Few coffee subscriptions and roasters focus on coffee quality to the point of elevating drinking coffee to an art form.
That’s where Blue Bottle Coffee shines.
Blue Bottle is known for their quality, giving you sophistication in a cup. So it’s not surprising that they have a passionate following, people around the world who love their coffees, mission, and style.
Keep reading for our Blue Bottle Coffee review will help you understand if it’s for you before you click subscribe.
Who Are Blue Bottle Coffee?
Blue Bottle Coffee got its start in Silicon Valley in the early 2000s. James Freeman was a classical musician who was getting tired of the world of classical music.
His love for coffee, however, was taking off. He wanted something better than the over-roasted beans available in the market back then.
So he took action. He bought a small coffee roaster and experimented in his garage. Shortly after that, he opened a roastery.
Now, almost 20 years later, Blue Bottle has locations around the world, including Japan, China, and Korea.
Blue Bottle is not trying to provide the cheapest coffee out there. In fact, they’re a bit expensive per cup.
There’s a good reason for that. They strive for excellence, with keen attention to detail, quality, and aesthetics. They have a minimalist vibe that lets the good in each coffee shine through.
Blue Bottle is a coffee company that doesn’t drown the beans in syrups or whipped cream. They don’t make coffee into an elaborate dessert.
They want you to enjoy coffee, the kind of delicately handled, high-quality coffee that makes it nearly a crime to add sweetened syrups or flavorings.
They work directly with farmers and cultivate long-term relationships to create even better coffee.
They pay premiums for quality coffee, and their prices meet or exceed Fair Trade prices. They pride themselves on coffee that’s traceable.
Much of their selection can be traced back to single farmers or groups of farmers with whom they have long-term relationships.
Blue Bottle’s exclusive focus on high-quality single-origin coffee beans has not gone unnoticed.
The indie brand is so well-known and respected that Nestle purchased a majority stake in Blue Bottle in 2017 for a staggering sum of money.
But that hasn’t changed their indie feel, and you can still get the quirky vibe and dedication to excellence that Freeman started the company with.
Blue Bottle Coffee Club Subscription Service
Whether you want innovation in your cup or you prefer the comforting tastes you’re used to, Blue Bottle tries to make it happen for you with its subscription service.
Blue Bottle at Home, as Blue Bottle calls its subscription service, starts with the basic (and now popular) promise to send out coffee within 24 hours of roasting.
Where does Blue Bottle become different? As we noted before, it’s in the quality.
Every coffee Blue Bottle offers is professionally cupped or tasted. Their coffee sourcing team is composed of certified Q graders.
Yes, all of them are certified. Each coffee exceeds specialty coffee standards, so you can expect cupping scores of 84 or above.
Sounds like perfection? It’s as near to it as you’ll get in a subscription service.
After Blue Bottle sources those coffees they love, they roast in small batches (at most, 70 kilos).
This is often called hand roasting, although it’s done in a machine. Each coffee gets a custom roast that preserves the flavors of origin and specific characteristics of the bean.
Then they ship right from the roastery, packaging the beans in compostable bags that are part of that high-quality approach.
With all this perfection, it’s not surprising to see how Blue Bottle has expanded. Their subscription service started small at just a few bags of coffee dropped off at people’s doorsteps. Oh, how they’ve grown since then.
Coffee Quality & Assortment
When talking about Blue Bottle quality and their selection, we come to two extremes that some subscription services try to avoid.
The quality is high. The selection is limited.
That attracts some coffee lovers and repels others. First, let’s talk about what Blue Bottle has, then we’ll get to what they don’t have.
Talking about quality, you can see it when you take a first look at the website.
You can buy the exceedingly rare Yemen Hayma Kharijiya Aljidan XI with exotic flavor notes like tamarind, black cherry, and vanilla. Or a Kenya Nyeri Kiawamururu with flavor notes of pomegranate and thyme.
You’re getting the idea. These beans are unique and memorable, not the kind of coffee you want to drown under a double shot of caramel syrup.
Where else will you find such a unique assortment?
Certainly not at your neighborhood coffee shop, unless you live in a fascinating neighborhood. Blue Bottle aims for those high-quality and rare coffees that are difficult to find.
But their offering is small. Only 20 options seem meager compared to other subscription services that offer hundreds of options from a variety of roasters.
Of course, if you drink a fair amount of coffee every month, you can subscribe to several companies and order the best coffees or blends from each one.
Whether you buy one bag or a subscription, you need to choose which coffees you want. Blue Bottle has blends and single origins, with new offerings popping up frequently. This includes regular brew options such as espresso, cold brew, or decaf.
Their New Orleans iced kit is so popular that it has its own category. (What makes it New Orleans style? That distinctive flavor of chicory).
What’s the process to choose your favorite coffee from Blue Bottle? On Blue Bottle’s main product page, you can browse through all of their coffees. The easiest way to get to what you truly want, though, is to use the filters.
Here are the steps to filter the choices:
First, choose the region. They give you the broad choices of Central or South America, Asia, or East Africa.
Then narrow your search down by processing type: natural, washed, honey or experimental.
From the last option in the filters list, choose a product type. You can get to the nitty-gritty of what you want by choosing decaf, blends, espresso, single-origin coffees, or organic.
So as an example, if you want to see just the options for Asia, natural process, and single-origin beans, you can set the filters and then make your choice.
Coffee Ordering and Delivery Experience
When I order coffee online, I’m looking for quality. I want the coffee to reach me fast, freshly roasted for peak flavor.
If they roast and ship the same day, I’m happy. A company that sends me coffee that was clearly roasted a couple of weeks ago gets slashed off my list.
I’m also looking for flavor. Sometimes I want bright flavors that knock my socks off. At other times I want a comforting, sweet cup of coffee.
Blue Bottle’s focus is on both the freshest coffee and optimal flavors. The freshness of Blue Bottle is impeccable.
After roasting the beans, Blue Bottle sends out the shipment fast, so you’ll get your coffee just when it’s degassed enough to be ready for a pour-over brewing method.
How does Blue Bottle help you choose the best option for you and your coffee mood?
Finding your coffee match
To choose the best coffee for you, first take their coffee quiz.
They want to understand your tastes so they can match you with the best coffee. And just as important, they want you to understand what you’re looking for.
That makes the selection process easier and the satisfaction levels higher.
They start with the brewing methods you most often use. French Press, pour-over, espresso, cold brew, Chemex, AeroPress, coffee maker (they mean a drip coffee maker).
Choose as many as you like – I chose them all, except for the drip coffee maker.
Then let Blue Bottle know how you take your coffee: black, with sugar or cream, or decaf. Again, you can select several. So if you like your morning coffee with sugar and cream and your afternoon coffee bare and beautiful, they’ll show you options for both.
Then you select how much coffee you drink. Unfortunately, they only go up to 20 cups in a week, which is a small amount for me.
You can choose how light or dark you like your brew. Also, they ask you to examine what you look for in a coffee.
Do you love a delicate cup? Juicy acidity? Syrupy sweetness?
Then pick how bright you like your coffee and your favorite flavors. Up to that point, the quiz is already more in-depth than many companies, which settle for asking about your preferred method, grind, and roast level.
With Blue Bottle, from there, it gets almost weird. They ask which herbs and spices you like. What kind of chocolate you prefer.
And get this – they ask what’s your favorite salad dressing. And yes, your preferred taste on your salad does help define the taste you’ll prefer in coffee.
Then Blue Bottle gives you your selection, and for rarer coffees they tell you when it roasts.
Coffee subscription service
You can pop onto the Blue Bottle website and buy just one bag of coffee. That’s probably a dangerous idea, though, because you’ll want more.
When you buy through their subscription model, you ensure you get the coffee you need when you need them.
When buying a Blue Bottle subscription, you can control how much coffee you want and how often you want it shipped.
Pick from single-origin assortment, blend assortment, espresso, or what Blue Bottle calls their New Orleans iced kit coffee.
Of course, you can also choose from different roasts: for a light roast, go for the single-origin coffees.
Related Read: Best Coffee Subscription Service
If you’re into the dark and comforting stuff, pick their espresso assortment or their blends. You can pause it, accelerate it, or eliminate it later too.
For the subscription, pick your bag size: half bag (6 ounces), standard bag (12 ounces), double bag (24 ounces), or a triple bag (36 ounces).
Then choose how often you want to get that size bag. Pick by weeks: Every week, every other week, or every 3 or 4 weeks.
Single-origin assortment – with these beans you get lighter roasts, higher quality, innovation in processing. They change them up every two weeks.
Espresso assortment – these blends and single origins are chosen and roasted to make life easier for you. Well, at least when you’re pulling espressos. They send you one of their four blends and one origin bean.
Blend assortment – they concentrate on comfort with their blends. These have a darker roast which makes the blend sweeter, less challenging to the palate, and more comforting. They mix blends up every week, so you’ll get any of their five top blends.
One of their most popular roasts is Three Africas, with fruity flavors. If you’re more into the comforting route, try the Giant Steps blend, which tastes like a Smores in your cup – toasted marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers sweetness. Ideal for a morning cappuccino.
And if you like smoky coffee, pick the Hayes Valley Espresso. They also have buttery espressos and fruity coffee.
The Roaster’s choice box is selected by Blue Bottle roasters. They’re single-origin beans that are short-time deals, coffee that they feel you should try right now. You get three 6-ounce bags of whole bean coffee, roasted twice a week and sent out right away.
For the few ground options, they grind it for your brewing device (pour-over, French Press, drip coffee maker).
With a coffee subscription, you’re not locked into just one choice. You can skip a shipment or pause it altogether. You can bail out and cancel the subscription at any time.
If you’re hesitant about it, you can sign up for a free trial. When you sign up for the normal coffee subscription, the first one is a free bag (you just pay for shipping). If you don’t like the subscription, you can cancel it.
If you’re new to Blue Bottle, you can start out with their welcome kit. Twice a month for three months, you’ll get a 12-ounce bag of whole bean coffee sent to you. Shipping is on them.
The welcome kit includes their coffee dripper brewing method, filters, and a cool paper tote that feels like leather. That way, you’ll be prepared for brewing coffee wherever you are.
Now let’s get to what is, for some people, the deal-breaker. Pricing.
Some of their coffee prices seem quite reasonable if you look fast. A closer look might reveal that the bag is smaller than other companies, just 6 or 12 ounces.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it – those prices might still be ideal for a rare, delicate, complex, or memorable bean. After all, quality is the main driver of Blue Bottle’s prices.
A large part of the higher prices for Blue Bottle is its stance on sustainability. While other coffee companies might just talk about sustainability, Blue Bottle is there for coffee growers.
They pay premiums for all their coffees, engage in long-lasting relationships with growers, and partner with organizations that are making a difference.
If you’re not interested in sustainable coffee, there are plenty of other companies that don’t make it a part of their company story.
The Blue Bottle Coffee Subscription Service isn’t for you if…
When should you look elsewhere for a coffee subscription?
You want to select from hundreds of coffee options
Blue Bottle sources select high-quality coffee. Part of maintaining the quality of their delicious coffee is providing a limited amount of options. For many coffee lovers, having some twenty choices with different roasts is enough.
But if you literally want to tour the entire world of coffee in your morning cup, there are other subscription services that can take you there.
For instance, the Atlas Coffee Club gives you that world tour of coffee. But keep in mind that you get no choice over what coffees they send you in the subscription, and they’ll send you bags from a different country each time. Check out Atlas Coffee Club.
You want inexpensive coffee
If you’re looking for cheap coffee, Blue Bottle is not the place. While the prices seem low, starting at $11 a bag, those bags can be as small as 6 ounces.
Take a good look at the amount you’re ordering before you decide if the price is right. If you’re searching for a less expensive subscription, look into Mistobox, which starts at $10.95 for a 12-ounce bag.
You want ground coffee
Many of Blue Bottle’s selections are available in whole beans.
If you’re looking for ground coffee, plenty of other coffee subscriptions give you all their bean choices in ground coffee, such as Bean Box.
The Final Verdict
When it comes to getting fresh coffee delivered to your door, there are plenty of options. But when you want high-quality coffee that takes care of everyone along the coffee chain, the possibilities dwindle out.
Blue Bottle will satisfy the most demanding coffee lover with delicious, fresh roasted coffee that not only tastes good but creates memories.
You’ll become part of a coffee community that truly cares about growers and everyone else in the coffee-producing chain. And Blue Bottle will initiate you in a coffee experience that will help you grow in your love of coffee to reach expert levels