10 best coffee subscription services that are way better than instant
Sign up to these, and you'll never be without your caffeine fix again
For a nation of tea drinkers, we haven’t half got on board with a decent cup of coffee.
The independent coffee scene is rightly thriving here in the UK, giving growers a better deal for their beans and the consumer a better brew in the process.
Now we’re keener than ever to brew ourselves top quality caffeine at home too: enter, independent coffee subscription services.
With most models allowing you to select your favourite bean profiles, grind and frequency, subscription services are a boon to coffee aficionados who no longer have to source their own fresh bag of beans every month (coffee is best super fresh!) but receive a delicious dose through their letterbox instead.
Whether you’re looking for gourmet gift for the coffee fan in your family or simply want to treat yourself to some of the best beans going, we’ve rounded up our top independent coffee subscription services for your perusal.
From challenging single origin coffee beans to light and bright house blends, seasonal specials and boxes that go above and beyond simply making great coffee: there’s a subscription service for everyone.
In testing we looked for responsibly sourced beans that were fairly traded, sustainable packaging, with a good story behind them – and that made truly brilliant coffee. Take your pick…
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Manumit house roast subscription: £6.75 / month for 250g bag, Manumit Coffee Roasters
Manumit is a Cardiff-based coffee roastery with a difference. Yes, its coffee is top notch with beans coming from farms and collectives aiming to improve communities (anywhere from Brazil, Uganda and Congo) but the real story here is the brand’s antislavery work. Manumit coffee is roasted, packaged and shipped by survivors of modern-day slavery and human trafficking; there are some extremely harrowing stories from its staff on the website. Manumit pays above the living wage and supports its employees to re-enter the workplace, plus the coffee profits are then ploughed back into local antislavery projects. As a bonus, its monthly house roast subscription package features delights like the gently festive Brazilian variety we tried: all sourced ethically, fairly traded and delivered straight to your door.
Coaltown seasonal espresso subscription: £15 / month for two 227g bags, Coaltown Coffee Roasters
Based in the small town of Ammanford in south Wales, Coaltown Coffee Roastery was born out of a desire to bring an industry back to the ex-mining town experiencing high unemployment. Today, locals are employed across the Coaltown Academy, a father and son run business which educates people on the third wave coffee movement (which includes direct trade, sustainability, flavour profiles) and provides new career paths.
Coaltown’s coffee beans are sourced only from small farms and sustainable growers and are committed to being waste-free: even the caffeine removed from decaf blends is sold to the soft drinks industry. The subscription model sees two delicious seasonal single origin coffees from around the world freshly roasted and ground to your requirements. Look out for an expansion of the service in the new year which will feature a different producer each month and a book featuring a profile of the farm showcasing sustainability and transparency.
Hundred House two bags a month single origin: £14 / month for two 250g bags, Hundred House Coffee
Coffee from this award-winning roastery in Shropshire is responsibly sourced from small-holdings around the world, roasted in a converted barn and packaged as single origin or blended into espresso blends. The popular two bag subscription offers two single origins a month, like the honey scented Colombian sugarcane or the light, bright and citrussy Kenyan mwira which we thought made a perfect morning filter coffee. Hundred House is committed to supporting the arts via its coffee sales and run a series of non-profit programmes that give back to the creative community particularly focusing on design-based projects in inner city schools.
Origin feature coffee subscription: From £8.50 / month for 250g bag, Origin Coffee
Origin by name, origin by nature it seems as here, coffee is directly traded which means Origin pays at least 50 per cent over and above the Fairtrade prices, which goes straight to farmers. Origin visit the farmers and mills across El Salvador, Nicaragua, Brazil and Colombia at least yearly to learn more about the coffee in order to deliver perfect, interesting cups to its customers.
All coffee is environmentally responsible and sustainable, so treat yourself to this through-the-mailbox subscription where two bags of specialty beans are freshly roasted and ground to your liking with full information on country of origin, farm, processing methods and flavour notes to help you learn and discover your favourites.
Dog and Hat assorted subscription: £17 for two 250g bags, Dog and Hat
If variety is your spice of life then take a look at Dog and Hat’s subscription. This husband and wife duo are committed to sourcing incredible coffees from some of the UK and Europe’s best and most passionate coffee roasters and delivering them to its members. Past roasters include well-respected outfits such as Caravan, Climpson & Sons and The Gentleman Baristas so you can rely on a different high-quality experience each month. With high ethical sourcing standards and laudable environmental credentials (all materials used are recycled), a subscription to Dog and Hat also includes access to its members area where you can discuss coffee tasting notes and current blends with other well-caffeinated fans.
Extract Coffee subscription: From £6.95 / month for 250g bag, Extract Coffee Roasters
From humble beginnings roasting coffee in a garden shed, Bristolian Extract Coffee Roasters now operate from a series of old roasters which the team salvaged themselves from scrap. They’re not big fans of waste as you can tell, recycling coffee waste into bio-fuels (equating to carbon savings of driving a car for 6,000 miles), using 100 per cent recyclable cups and diverting coffee chaff into a local farm for mulching.
The coffee, too, is just as sustainable and the brand prides themselves on choosing beans that promote good practices, helping grower communities to achieve better incomes and opportunities. We thought its famous Strong Man espresso (from the Kopakaki Dutegure cooperative in Rwanda) was exceptional: notes of blackcurrant jam and discernible mint chocolate make it a great winter choice. Sales of this particular coffee help to provide barista training to vulnerable or homeless people in London through Extract’s Grounds Up initiative. The subscription model offers a choice of eight remarkable coffees with regularly changing seasonal styles all in a handy letterbox package.
Pact coffee plan: From £6.95 / month for 250g bag, Pact Coffee
Pact has been sourcing gourmet coffee via the Direct Trade model since 2012; Direct Trade pays the farmers, on average, 55 per cent more than the Fairtrade rate and makes coffee farming a profitable career rather than a means of survival. There’s 13 varieties of coffee, which are all arabica, from nine different origins and are available in five different grinds in their flexible subscription service whereby you can pause, decrease or increase your deliveries at any time.
All coffee is roasted, ground, packed and delivered within seven days and boasts varieties such as the Honduran El Campanario micro-lot we tried, which was a medium roasted bean with hints of raisin and cocoa and extremely drinkable. Pact also offer fully recyclable Nespresso-compatible coffee pods if that’s your coffee bag.
Cricklewood Coffee Roasters subscription: From £7 / month for 250g bag, Cricklewood Coffee Roasters
North West London may not be the first place that springs to mind when it comes to great tasting coffee, but it should be one of them. For the past two years, the Cricklewood Coffee Roasters van has been parked outside Cricklewood station each morning ready to caffeinate hordes of happy commuters. The coffee made people sit up and listen and this year its own specialty coffee Community Blend (made up of natural and fermented coffees from a family farm in Brazil) was awarded two Great Taste Awards in two categories: read, it’s amazing. You can now enjoy Cricklewood Coffee via subscription – no trip to NW2 required.
The now-famed Community Blend is a delicately malty light roasted coffee but we also loved a fruity Myanmar number. Cricklewood Coffee uses the Direct Trading model where possible, but also believes it is important to praise ethical importers like GE Imports who ensure the benefits of growing, sourcing and drinking great coffee like the Community Blend reach everyone.
Independent Coffee Box monthly subscription: From £18.99 for two bags, Independent Coffee Box
The Independent Coffee Guide series has long been a champion of the best indie cafes across the UK and now there’s a subscription box of speciality coffees from roasteries that meet its high standards of quality coffee, fairly and ethically traded with an eye on environmental impact: think Extract Coffee, Dear Green and Hundred House. The brand says it’s seen a rise in demand for ethical, artisan coffee over the past few years and that most small brands can’t reach through the market; this box then connects independent roasters and coffee fans via the best barista-approved beans going.
All coffees are delivered as whole beans – as it feels strongly that coffee loses freshness once ground – within days of roasting and is packaged in the roasters’ own packaging to avoid waste. Subscribers will also receive a monthly copy of Brew with tasting notes and features on the caffeine scene. Bag weights change depending on that month’s brand.
Café Direct handpicked coffee subscription service: From £7.95 / month for 250g, Café Direct
As the first coffee brand to be Fairtrade certified, Café Direct has been supporting smallholders and farmers producing outstanding coffee for more than 25 years. Up to 50 per cent of Café Direct’s profits are invested back into these farms and grower-led programmes, ensuring the trading model lives on and raises the quality of livelihoods and communities. Aside from that, the coffee it sources for its subscribers is exceptional, interesting single origin microlots which are then roasted in east London, checked by its expert Q Graders and sent out within seven days.
The verdict: Coffee subscriptions
With so many independents doing good things and making even better coffee, it’s hard to choose our winner but the team at Manumit have our vote this time thanks to its awe-inspiring work helping to rebuild the lives of people trafficked and forced into slavery or sex work. The house roast is utterly delicious and full of nutty, chocolate character and tastes all the sweeter for knowing who is roasting it and why.
We were also super impressed by the fun and variety involved with the Independent Coffee Box and Dog & Hat subscriptions and would happily gift these to friends, family and ourselves. Our advice? Find a cause you’d like to help support and do so by drinking their fabulous coffee to your heart’s content.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.