Trade Coffee Review: Level Up your Daily Grind
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. We received compensation and courtesy product from Trade Coffee in exchange for our honest review only. All opinions expressed here are our own.
While we’d love to see a more choice-driven sign-up process, Trade Coffee is sure to win over plenty of new and old coffee enthusiasts in equal measure with its outstanding selection of coffee from artisan roasters and excellent customer service, all delivered in a convenient monthly subscription box package.
One time, three years ago, I forgot to drink my morning coffee.
My family sat me down intervention-style and said, “we want you to drink at least one cup a day. Please, think of the children.”
I kid of course, but I’ve never been as consistent about anything as I’ve been about making a hot pot of coffee in the morning. Just thinking about running out of coffee raises the hair on my neck.
So when I heard about the new coffee subscription and marketplace, Trade, I was excited to find out more.
I signed up for a subscription and picked up some extra coffee to give it a good and proper try. I’ll share a little info about the brand and the signup process before I dive into my review.
Let’s do it.
What is Trade Coffee?
They’re fairly new when it comes to coffee subscription companies, launching in April 2018. Even with tough competition from the likes of Mistobox and Moustache Coffee Club, Trade has been able to make a space for themselves.
Backed by global coffee powerhouse, JAB Holding Company, Trade has picked some of the top talent in the industry to bring on partners that are redefining what great coffee means.
They’re also an online market and education hub where you can pick up brewing equipment and learn about your new favorite roasting company.
When signing up for a subscription, Trade uses a simple questionnaire to personalize its recommendation for you. After you’ve got your recommendation, you can choose to receive a new bag of coffee every 1-8 weeks, depending on how much coffee drink.
After you try your first coffee, you rate it ‘thumbs up,’ or ‘thumbs down.’ Trade uses that information to send you coffee you’ll love every time.
Ways to Use Trade
Subscription Option #1 – The Classics
The Classics is part of Trade’s recommendation and subscription service. You get two 12oz bags of a specialty blend however frequently you want. These blends are on-hand year round, so you can choose to receive the same blend time after time.
This works for the person who wants consistency in the morning. The Classics come in at a lower price point per bag, but that doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing quality. The blends offered are still crafted by world-class roasters.
Subscription Option #2 – The Hookup
No, this isn’t some kind of coffee-infused dating service (how would that even work?). The Hookup is a single-bag coffee subscription that can run anywhere from $15 – $22 per 12oz bag.
Trade will send along coffee tailored to your tastes every one to three weeks depending on the frequency you choose.
The coffees offered in The Hookup tend to be more unique. This subscription focuses more on single-origin coffees, so you won’t see many blends. If you stick with the subscription long enough, you’ll pick up on differences between origins—like a sommelier but for coffee.
Trade offers over 400 different coffees through their site. One glance at the page and I pretty much had to take a deep breath and lie down on the floor.
If you already know what kind of coffee you like, you can filter their offerings down in several ways. You can choose by flavor profile, roaster region, coffee origin, roast level, etc.
Or you could do what I did and scroll through the offerings for an hour, occasionally whispering “ooh-la-la.”
I’ve seen many good men go down the coffee rabbit-hole. But who am I to judge? I’ve been living in that rabbit-hole for years.
If you’re looking to add a top-of-the-line brewing system into your morning routine, Trade has you covered. They don’t offer a huge selection of equipment, but what they offer is widely considered to be the best by coffee nerds around the world.
Getting My Recommendation (the Questionnaire)
For our review, I went through Trade’s recommendation process. The simple six-question form leads you to one of their two subscription options—The Classics, or The Hookup.
They start by asking where you’re at when it comes to coffee knowledge. I chose “I’m a total coffee nerd” because, well, I’m a total coffee nerd.
They follow up by asking how you make your coffee at home. Trade doesn’t offer single-use pods a la Keurig, but they do offer to have a one-on-one chat with you to figure out the best way to get into freshly roasted coffee.
Fair question. I take it black.
You may not have a clear answer about your favorite roast level if you’re just learning about coffee. A lot of people I know who thought they enjoyed dark roasts really prefer light. I like it all. I chose ‘I defer to you’.
Some people like consistency in the morning. Some people like an adventure. I chose ‘surprising and unconventional’.
Last, Trade wants to know if you like your coffee ground or whole bean. Some roasters don’t send out pre-ground coffee, so this helps narrow the selection.
After answering these questions, I was paired with (drumroll please)…
My first coffee was a light roast Ethiopia. This has genuinely been my go-to choice of coffee for some time, especially when I’m looking to impress someone. So I must say, Trade gave a great recommendation.
(Use code ADULTMAN for 50% off plus free shipping on your first box)
Unboxing & Review
For our review, I picked up three bags from Trade’s selection as well as the recommended Cuvee Ethiopian.
Being the type of person I am, I felt like I had to try all four coffees as soon as possible. The excessive caffeine caused me to lose control of my forehead several times during the past week.
Each coffee ships directly from the roaster in a signature Trade box.
The roasters Trade work with have their own packaging for the bags. It was interesting to see the level of detailed information each roaster included.
The bag from Onyx Coffee Lab was hyper-specific, detailing the origin, farm, processing method, elevation, variety, tasting notes, and importer.
Whereas the bag from Cuvee only noted the origin and gave general tasting notes.
Trade offers more information on their website about each individual coffee, though I don’t think I’d personally take the time to go online to learn more. And I’m a coffee nut. A simple card printout or a list of coffee facts would go a long way to make each package a learning experience.
When I drank the Onyx Colombian, I had a ton of information to pour over (pun intended) while sipping my morning coffee. With the Cuvee Ethiopian, there was much less information and I felt it was a lost opportunity.
Update (July 2019): Each Trade pack slip now includes information about every coffee and so it’ll be right there in front of you when you open the box. Awesome!
Coffee is best anywhere between two and ten days after roasting. Its flavor starts to dim after that and is just about gone after 30 days.
I’ve always been skeptical about coffee subscription companies because I didn’t trust that I’d get freshly roasted beans.
I was happy to see ‘roasted on’ dates with all four of my coffees. Even better, each coffee arrived five days after it was roasted. This freshness beat my expectations.
As far as Trade’s selection goes, there are some true gems. I’m talking about best-coffee-you’ve-ever-tasted type gems. But for every gem, there are about 25 other coffees as well.
Trade markets itself as “the Netflix of coffee.” And Netflix can be tough if you’re not feeling decisive. The list of 400+ coffees is daunting. Since I was on a mission, I had a game plan for choosing my coffees. But I can imagine this list being overwhelming for anyone just learning about coffee.
The Cuvee, Groundwork, and Intelligentsia coffees were all great coffees and I’d be happy to get them as part of a subscription. My coffee from Onyx was outstanding. I was blown away by the flavor and I loved all the information they included on the bag.
I’ll be keeping an eye on Trade’s selection to see if they trim down their offerings and highlight the truly exceptional coffee they have available.
Cold Brew Bags
Trade adds a set of 20 cold brew bags whenever you sign up for a subscription. I don’t make much cold-brew at home because it requires about four times the amount of coffee compared to a pour-over, but I was happy to give it a shot.
The bags are like deluxe large tea-bags. They have more filtering power than your standard tea-bag, so you don’t end up with a layer of coffee mud at the bottom of your glass.
The cold-brew was just as good as any I’ve had before, and making it was much easier. If you like cold-brew and you’re looking into signing up for Trade, this is a cool bonus.
Customer Service and Subscription Management
You can change your subscription or report any problems by calling, emailing, or sending a form message.
If you get a coffee you don’t care for, just rate it a ‘thumbs-down’ in your account and trust that Trade won’t send you anything similar in your next shipment.
In researching this post, I saw a lot of reviewers wishing for a company that sent out only certified organic, fair-trade coffee. Trade has the option to filter by certifications and their organic, fair-trade list is still too big to scroll through. So if organic and fair-trade coffee is a priority to you, Trade fits the bill.
How Does Trade Stack Up Against the Competition?
After taking a look through all the competing coffee subscriptions, Trade offers the best service. Trade’s strength is in the number of top-quality roasters they work with. The only other company that rivals Trade in sheer variety is Mistobox.
Trade beats Mistobox on two levels, though—shipping and customer service. Trade offers free shipping if you’re a subscriber and has an open phone-line during standard business hours. Mistobox has neither.
Trade is the only company providing top-quality coffee without tacking on shipping fees that cost one-third the price of the coffee itself.
It’s important to note that these coffees are more expensive than what you’d find in your supermarket. These coffees are also leaps-and-bounds better. You get what you pay for.
If a great cup of coffee is important to you, Trade offers fantastic value. Just a few months of having a subscription is pretty likely to turn you into a coffee nerd for life.