My Trade Coffee Review
Is this Coffee Subscription Worth Trying?
Trade is a coffee subscription and online retailer that connects people with high-quality coffee from over 50 of the best roasters in the US. Whether you buy their coffee as a one-time order or via a subscription, it's roasted fresh and shipped directly from the roaster to you.
When you sign up, you’ll take a short quiz to pair you with the right Trade coffee and subscription. Receiving a coffee that was chosen with my preferences in mind was amazing. While the matchmaking process isn’t without flaw (it took me a couple of stabs at the quiz to feel confident in the coffee that was picked for me), the experience was excellent and even changed the way I approached making coffee at home!
Updated on 5/26/20 to reflect up-to-date subscription choices.
Pros & Cons
- All roasters carried are heavily vetted by the Trade team, so you know you’re going to receive amazing coffee.
- Coffee beans are roasted upon your order and shipped fresh, directly from the roaster to your door.
- If you don’t like your first match, you can have it replaced if you reach out to the Trade team within 1 week.
- You can customize the type of experience you want—a new coffee exploratory adventure or a consistent delivery schedule.
- You can “snooze” your subscription anytime if you need to pause for any reason.
- The coffee is invariably high-quality and often comes in a package with great design. (Fun bonus!)
- Their website has lots of how-tos to help you brew your best cup of coffee every day.
- With a regular shipment cadence comes a lot of notifications—they give a head’s up about your next order’s status every step of the way. While that’s obviously good info to have, it feels like a lot of emails comin’ in.
- The cheapest bag they carry is about $15, which could feel expensive for a coffee you’ve never tried.
- If you don’t like a coffee you received, but it’s not your first bag, it’s not covered by their guarantee. They do, however, encourage you to reach out to their Customer Experience team so they can “do [their] best to make it right.”
- Rather than choosing your subscription option, you are assigned one based on your quiz answers and have to retake the quiz to try for a different outcome.
Is It Worth It?
- If you’re willing to spend a few extra bucks for a specialty coffee experience, then yes!
I'd Recommend Trade If
- You want to drink amazing coffee at home but are overwhelmed by the seemingly endless options (Trade itself carries 400+ different types of coffee).
- You're an established coffee-lover who wants to make obtaining your beans easier.
About Trade Coffee
The Subscription: Trade Coffee
- Varies based on which coffee you’re matched with, but ranges from $15-$25.
- A 15% discount is automatically applied to your total when you place another order within 30 days of your last one.
- Ships within the continental US. They currently do not ship to PO boxes, APO boxes, Puerto Rico, Canada, or internationally.
- Shipping costs $2 per bag. Orders of $30+ are eligible for free shipping.
- Shipping is free for orders placed within 30 days of your last order (in addition to the 15% discount mentioned above).
- Orders ship directly from the roasters to your home.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out our review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
Trade Coffee offers a few different subscription plans:
- 1 bag of coffee arrives every 1, 2, 3, 4, or 6 weeks—your choice.
- You pay per bag, so each order will be $15-$22.
- It’ll be a different coffee each delivery, but will always apply to your preferences.
- 1-2 bags of coffee arrive every 1, 2, 3, 4, or 6 weeks—your choice.
- Receive 1 bag per delivery for $14.75, or bundle and save 15% with a 2-bag shipment.
- You can expect the same bag(s) with each delivery.
- You choose the coffee and the delivery schedule.
How It Works
Similar to clothing subscription boxes, you start out with a quiz to let Trade know about your coffee expertise, preferences, and how you make and take your coffee. Based on your answers, their system will generate a coffee suggestion for you, as well as a suggestion of which subscription they think would be a good fit. From there, you can choose if you’d like to receive your beans whole or ground and your delivery frequency.
Taking the Quiz
I really had to look within to answer the question about my relationship with coffee. I think we as a culture really romanticize coffee, and I had to stop myself from trying to seem more experienced than I really am! I chose the "intermediate stage" option. The questions that follow ask about the brewing method you use, whether you take any type of milk or cream in your coffee, what roast level you enjoy, whether you like to experiment with different flavors, and whether you buy ground coffee vs. whole beans. Similar to the 'Why It Matters" section above, they give tips and explanations for each quiz question.
And, ta-da! Here's what was chosen for me based on my answers. I thought this coffee looked and sounded pretty rad. The results page also paired me with The Hookup subscription. Even though it's shown up top in gigantic letters, I think it could be easy to miss if you weren't aware that one of their subscriptions is called The Hookup and aren't amazing about reading fine print; it might seem like that's just catchy copy presenting your coffee result. Note that the only way to change your subscription choice is to go back and change your quiz answers (which is what I did when I didn't like my original coffee pick).
Sealing the Deal
When you're happy with your coffee and subscription results, hit that red "Subscribe" button, and you'll be taken to a page where you can choose your grind and subscription cadence. I went with the default two weeks. (I would later be surprised at how quickly that time passes!) You can always go back into your account and "snooze" deliveries if the cadence is too rapid.
This page calls attention to a few perks of The Hookup subscription: free shipping (yay!) and Trade's commitment to setting you up with a coffee you love. This isn't entirely clear here, but The Hookup subscribers also get 15% off of every bag, not just the first one.
Trade gives you the option to move communication over to text. I think it was clever of them to design this opt-in option with an old school robot. Imagine this cute little dude texting you!
Boom, order placed. I appreciated how this confirmation page reminded me that my coffee would be roasted before it was shipped and that shipping will take 2-5 days.
My First Trade Delivery
I received an email right away confirming my order. I also received an email notifying me when the roaster was roasting my beans. I got my "Your Coffee Is Roasting" email about two and a half hours after my confirmation email came in, though the Trade site mentions that all the roasters make their own schedules and many don't roast on weekends. I might have just been lucky enough to get a coffee style that could be roasted more quickly. They do guarantee, however, that the roasters will ship your order within 24 hours of roasting it.
Here it is, my first Trade Coffee order! Oh my gosh, I wish I could tell you how good it smelled. Seriously so good.
With this first shipment came a welcome booklet. On the inside is a little bingo-style setup with the brand of your first bag already marked in the middle. They send along a small sticker so you can mark off future brands you receive, and when you get a bingo, you can claim a free bag. On the back are some fun facts about the brand and some information about my Trade membership, like reordering, rating, and accessing how-tos. I like that they don't overload you with info, they just tell you where to find it!
Trade absolutely nailed it with my first bag of coffee. I am so pleased. This Doma Guatemala Huehuetenango is accented with hints of milk chocolate, lime, and molasses; it's called "dessert-like" in its description. But, honestly, I didn't pick up on any of that. All my radar screen was saying was, this is a damn fine cup of coffee.
Trade also changed the way I make coffee:
Before Trade: “How hard is it to make a cup of coffee?”
- I brewed by the cup with a very non-fancy plastic pour-over cone.
- My husband or I would grind beans about 1-2 times per week using a single-setting blade grinder and store the grounds in a small mason jar to use over the next few days.
- To make my cup, I would put a dry filter in the cone, eyeball the coffee amount, and pour water in until my mug was full.
- I was brewing high-quality coffee but it wasn’t tasting amazing.
With Trade: “Dang, they want me to measure out grams? I should probably see what this is all about…”
- Same non-fancy plastic pour-over cone!
- I ground only enough beans for the cup I was about to make.
- Using a combo of tips from the Trade blog and the directions on the side of my coffee bag, I dampened the filter before placing it in the cone, set the cone on my mug, and placed the whole setup on a food scale. I then added the suggested amount of grounds in grams, and poured the water over using the scale, too.
- I literally made the most delicious cup of coffee my own two hands have ever made, and I took photos of myself drinking it to send to my friends. It was that good.
This was the first time I've ever whipped out the food scale to make a cup of coffee. I can't say I'll do it every single morning, but I do believe it's worth it for mornings when I have a few minutes to spare. Like I mentioned above, I took some tips on how to properly make a cup of coffee using the pour-over method, as well as following the directions on the side of the bag. Here's what it suggested:
"Ratio: Use a 1:16 coffee to water ration (40 grams to 640 grams or 2 tablespoons to 6 fluid ounces)."
I went for the grams approach, of course, but I did an approximate measurement using tablespoons/fluid ounces when adding the beans to my grinder and the water to my electric kettle. Oddly, I didn't have enough beans ground to make it to 40 grams and had to do a super-quick supplementation. Now I know to grind a little extra. When it came to adding water, I only got to 465 ounces before my mug was full. I'm still stumped on how that happened, but either way, the coffee was bold without being too strong. It ended up tasting like absolute coffee perfection.
My Second Trade Delivery
A few days after my coffee arrived, I received an email asking me to go online and rate it. When I bopped over to Trade's site, this prompt was waiting for me. I ended up waiting a few more days (after I got a notification that my next bag of coffee was roasting) to go in and do this, and the next coffee was already listed, ready for rating. FYI, Trade gives you the option to pick your next coffee from four options, rather than having Trade choose one for you.
Not long after that, my second box of coffee arrived! I was warned by one of our other reviewers, Andy, that Onyx might ruin all other coffee for me, which got me all amped up to try it! With my delivery came another tiny bingo sticker to add to the card I had previously received.
How incredible is this bag? I had to include a shot of the bottom. And I am thrilled that the bag reseals!
The directions Onyx gives are far less specific than what was on the Doma package—they didn't include grams, for example—so I just measured everything out with tablespoons and ounces. It felt like a sustainable way to make coffee daily. This coffee is the El Salvador Santa Rosa, a somewhat "modern" blend (not sure what that means, but I'm into it) with hints of green grape, pecan, strawberry, and sugar cane in it. Again, those specific flavors didn't jump out at me, but I found myself freaking out over how good it tasted. It did stand out to me, though, that when brewed, the coffee had almost a berry-ish tint to it, which you can kind of see reflected on the backdrop under my mug. Cool, eh?
Cancelling My Subscription
To cancel your subscription, I'm pleased to report you don't have to jump through too many hoops. If you go to the Manage Subscription section, which is a drop-down menu option that opens when you hover over the universal Profile icon, it'll take you to a page that shows you all the details of your subscription.
When you click "Cancel Subscription," this window pops up, offering a few options for getting ahold of the Trade team.
Trade Coffee gets two thumbs up from this gal! The sign-up process is simultaneously quick and thorough, their shipping is quick, their coffee varieties taste amazing, and they equip subscribers with the information they need to elevate their coffee-drinking experience. Their website is very user-friendly, too, so subscription details are easy to find and update. Trade is an all-around great subscription!
Have you tried a coffee subscription box yet? Learn about other coffee subscriptions worth trying in this helpful list!