Everyone has that one friend who influences them to go deep on a random hobby. For me, that friend is also my neighbor, Mark, who turned me from someone who enjoys a nice latte into someone who is ferociously snobby about coffee.
Since we started hanging out, I’ve started watching coffee YouTube, debating the nuances between different pour over drippers, and developing strong opinions about washed versus semi-washed beans. I now own no fewer than 12 brewing apparatuses, keep multiple bags of beans on rotation, and would rather go without caffeine than brew grocery store coffee. Keeping up with this level of enthusiasm can be exhausting, so when I found out about Trade, a coffee subscription service that sends beans directly from craft roasters to your door, I was pretty excited. Plus, your first bag of coffee is free when you sign up at Trade — a pretty nice bonus.
How It Works
There are a few factors that can take your home coffee from fine to great. The single most important one is starting with high-quality, freshly-roasted beans. This is where Trade’s model really gives it an edge over other subscription services, because when you order through Trade, your beans are roasted on-demand before being packed and shipped, ensuring that you’re getting the freshest possible coffee.
To get started, you’ll take an online quiz about your coffee preferences. It starts off by asking about your experience level with coffee, which ranges from “I’m pretty new to all of this” to “I’m a total coffee nerd” (I chose the latter). Next, you’ll add your favorite brewing method, whether or not you add cream or sugar, and how light or dark you like your roasts.
I love a good online quiz, and the fact that this one actually has options that reflected my preferences made it even more enjoyable. Many coffee quizzes start with roast level and end with whether you’d like whole or ground beans, and that’s about it. Trade’s quiz gave me the options to indicate that I take my coffee differently depending on the varietal and that I tend to favor “surprising and unconventional” brews to “coffee that tastes like coffee.”
Once you’ve completed the quiz, Trade will match you with three different coffees from three different roasters. My trust in the process was bolstered by the fact that two of my initial matches were with brands I already know I love — Madcap and Verve — as well as Anodyne, which I’d never heard of, but was excited to try based on the tasting notes of cherry and dark chocolate.
Before you check out, you have the opportunity to fine-tune your subscription by selecting the quantity and frequency of your coffee deliveries. Plans start at $12.50 per bag, though that can vary. You can also purchase one-offs of individual beans that you weren’t matched with if there’s something specific you want to try. The hardest part? Waiting for your first bag to arrive.
One of the things I love most about Trade is its curation of roasters. You’ll find some bigger names like Stumptown and Joe’s on its roster, but the selection is much more focused on smaller, regional brands.
Whenever I travel to a new city, my first order of business is always finding the best local craft coffee spot, so I was psyched to see some favorites from recent trips, like Portland, Maine’s Tandem Coffee Roasters and Denver, Colorado’s Huckleberry Roasters. The fact that I can easily buy my favorite beans from previous trips through Trade is a huge bonus.
Trade works with more than 55 roasting companies to supply over 400 unique coffee varietals to their customers. What’s particularly great about their selection is that it really does cater to coffee drinkers of all experience levels. If you’re a beginner, you don’t have to worry about trying a bunch of beans you don’t actually like — Trade does the legwork to find your new favorites for you. And if you’re a more experienced coffee drinker, you have the opportunity to try new beans from all over the country without actually having to travel.
Beyond actual coffee beans, Trade probably has one of the best curations of gear and accessories on the internet. If you’re looking to buy a gift or upgrade your own brewing setup, it has a small but expertly curated selection that has pretty much everything you need. Trade stocks compatible filters for all of its brewing methods, as well as the scales and grinders you need to up your brewing game.
The Cold Brew Bags
Trade’s cold brew bags are among the best I’ve used — they’re perfect for making a large mason jar-sized batch of cold brew concentrate, and it’s the method I use more often than not. This is a great option for anyone who likes to experiment with different beans for their iced coffee since you don’t have to commit to making a large batch.
The Cold Brew Carafe
If you want to make cold brew for the week, the Mizudashi pot from Hario is hard to beat both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. It has a reusable fine mesh filter, a slim profile, and an ergonomic handle for easy pouring.
The Pour-Over Dripper
I recommend the Kalita Wave to anyone who wants to get more serious about their at-home coffee brewing. The flat bottom takes the guesswork out of pour-over brewing, so even if your technique isn’t perfect, you’ll still get a great cup of coffee. It has a durable stainless steel design that’s easy to clean.
The Only Grinder You Need
If counter space is not an issue, and you’re only going to invest in a single piece of equipment to make your at-home coffee taste better, you should buy a Baratza Encore. The gold standard in burr grinders, this is the one you’ll see in most craft coffee shops. It can be adjusted for French press, espresso, and everything in between.
The Best Coffee Maker In The World
The Moccamaster is the only drip coffee maker that’s approved by the Specialty Coffee Association, and even baristas who swear that a pour over dripper is the only way to make great coffee won’t turn their nose up at this machine. Its design hasn’t changed much since it was released in 1969, because it’s pretty much perfect the way it is. If you’re looking for a splurge-y gift for a coffee nerd in your life who has everything, this is the thing to get.
Whether you’re already pretty serious about coffee or are just embarking on your journey toward becoming a “coffee person,” Trade has pretty much everything you need. I love that you can purchase single bags of any blend from any of its roasters, even if you don’t have a subscription, and the equipment selection is pretty much perfect. Subscriptions start as low as $12.50 per bag, so it’s also a good way to dip your toes into the world of craft coffee without spending a fortune.
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