Trade Coffee Review: Worth The Subscription In 2021?
Do you ever get tired of being told what you should and should love? With so many trends constantly spinning around like the wheel on a merry-go-round, it’s getting harder and harder to find that personal touch.
If you can relate— enter the world of Trade coffee. The most personalized, customizable coffee subscription service there is.
Tell Trade your deepest darkest coffee secrets via their quiz, and they will match you up with a coffee subscription that is personalized to Y-O-U. Shipping out boxes of coffee from some of the best roasters in the United States, straight to your door.
Read our Trade coffee review to find out if this is, in fact, the world’s most perfect coffee subscription.
Who Are Trade Coffee?
Trade coffee is all about you. Their goal is simple: to put coffee that is delicious to you, into your cup, regardless of how you like it.
- A huge assortment of high quality coffees
- Loads of customization options
- Free shipping
- No real set pricing on the higher tier option
- Only available in the United States
If you’re a total coffee nerd, cool. Want to put milk or sugar, or maybe even a concoction of miscellaneous sweeteners into your cup of coffee? Trade will hook you up with the perfect beans to go with that. No judgment— just delicious, high quality coffee.
Freshly opened in 2018, Trade coffee has quickly become one of the most popular coffee subscription services in the United States. Unlike many coffee subscriptions that are run by coffee roasters themselves, Trade is more of a middle man. This means that they can offer their customers freshly roasted coffee from many of the nation’s top coffee roasters.
The Trade subscription is unlike any other. Allowing you to do things like choose the kind of coffee you enjoy, rate each coffee after you’ve tried it, and skip the upcoming coffee if you don’t like the way it sounds, the whole experience is completely individualized.
Trade coffee wants to make sure you love the beans you are buying. If you don’t dig your first bag, they’ll swap it out for something you do love. No questions asked.
Trade Coffee Review 2021
A Trade coffee subscription is an excellent choice for pretty much everyone. I know that is a broad claim, but let me explain.
Trade has designed their subscription in such a way, with so many choices, that it’s hard to think of a scenario where one might be let down.
If you like to explore and be adventurous with your coffee, tasting a new coffee every week, you can do that. If you find something you like and you want to stick with it, receiving your one true love brew every time, you can do that too.
By offering two different subscriptions, Trade can offer both rare, exotic tasting coffees, as well as more traditional ones.
Trade run with some of the biggest names in the United States specialty coffee market, currently working with 54 different roasters. Onyx, Mad Cap, and Verve are all signed up, among plenty of other well-known coffee roasters. With this many great roasters under one roof, if you can’t find coffee you love here, you’re unlikely to find it anywhere!
Every coffee that passes through Trade is subject to strict quality control. Each of the 400+ coffees is cupped by the team before being placed into one of Trade’s ‘taste types’. These are basically subcategories like ‘sweet and tart’, ‘sweet and smooth’, or ‘roasty and smokey’— a way of quickly identifying a cup of coffee that you might enjoy.
In addition to the subscription service (which we’ll dive into much deeper within this Trade coffee review), they also run a complete online shop.
Peep in the online shop, and you’ll find coffee grinders, cold brew coffee makers, and manual brewing equipment, as well as a wonderland of coffee, to suit any taste. These beans can be purchased as the first bag of an ongoing sub, or on a one-off basis.
If you go the al a carte route and follow up it up with a second bag of coffee within 30 days, Trade will hook you up with 20% off— the same discount you’d get on a subscription.
How it Works
Setting up a subscription with Trade coffee is a little more complicated than most subscriptions, and the sign up process can take some time. But because it’s all about making sure the right beans end up in your cup of coffee, the extra time spend is well worth it.
First, take a short quiz. Asking you a bunch of questions about your coffee drinking habits and taste preferences, Trade can more accurately match you with coffees that you’ll love.
Depending on your answers to the aforementioned questions, Trade will set you up with one of their subscription tiers. Either ‘The Hookup’, or ‘The Classic’.
Having different membership tiers is an excellent way of catering to all coffee lovers. Those who like funky, rare, or experimental lots can go with The Hookup, while more vanilla folk can choose the classic.
If you dig rare, exotic coffee, this is probably the tier for you. You’ll be shipped the finest coffee that each roaster has to offer. Some may be beans that were processed using experimental methods like carbonic maceration and lactic fermentation. Nothing is too wild.
With single origin coffees only, this option is a great way of tasting the individual flavor characteristics of each producing country.
Going with ‘The Classic’ tier, you’ll receive coffee that is rich and well balanced. Sometimes it will be a blend, and other times single origin.
They will most likely be washed coffees from classic origins like Colombia and Guatemala— nothing too crazy. No anaerobic fermentation, carbonic maceration, or the funky flavors that come as a result of the two. These beans would also work excellently for cold brew coffee as they are rich and full.
Coffee nerds or the seasoned pro barista can skip the quiz if they so desire, jumping straight into the online store. From here, you can choose to simply buy a bag or two of coffee, or you can select the first bag of your subscription service.
Once you’re all set with your tier, pick your order frequency, amount, and whether you want whole bean or ground coffee.
Trade Coffee Assortment
The range of quality coffee available through Trade’s subscription and web store is legitimately dizzying. There are so freakin’ many!
At the time of writing, Trade coffee has some 54 roasters and 463 different coffees listed on their web store. With names such as George Howell, Onyx, ReAnimator, and Madcap, there are some bangin’ coffees available.
As I review the list, I spot at least a dozen noteworthy coffee gems. A double fermented Kenya Peaberry with notes of blackberry and watermelon roasted by Verve makes my heart dance, as does Onyx’s washed Rwanda Kanzu. A coffee of the bourbon variety with notes of apricot, plum, and maple syrup. Tasty, tasty stuff.
Whether you want washed, natural, honey, or beans fermented using carbonic maceration, chances are you’ll find it here.
Coffee selection is one of the key things that makes this subscription better than those run by a single roaster. You get so much more variety.
See, every coffee roaster has their own style. Each roaster chooses the coffee beans they roast with a specific taste preference. In choosing a single roaster subscription, you only get one roaster’s style. One roaster’s choice of coffees. But with a multi-roaster subscription like Trade, you get to taste the unique styles of 54 different roasters from across the country.
Trade Coffee Ordering & Delivery Experience
The most unique thing about Trade, other than the ridiculously awesome amount of coffee they offer, is the way you set up your subscription. It has to be the most thorough coffee buying experience that has ever existed. Let’s take a good look at the ordering process and how it contributes to Trade sending you the perfect bag of beans every month.
You’re basically going to let Trade in on your deepest, most personal coffee secrets.
It all starts innocently enough, with your first name and postcode. This is followed by your proficiency in the world of coffee. You can be anything from a beginner to a total coffee nerd. There is no judgment here and no shame in being a beginner and only had grocery store coffee before. We’re all beginners at something!
Then we dive straight into the dirty details.
How do you like your coffee? How often? What you do while you are enjoying your coffee? Do you watch tv, read a book, just chillax or perhaps listen to a podcast…We’re getting deep. This is all about getting to know you.
Now the tech questions are coming— brew method and roast style.
Select your primary brewing method from a list of ten choices. We have all the major brew methods here, including drip, pour-over, AeroPress, espresso, cold brew, and even refillable pods, just to name a few.
Next, pick your roast level preference, anything from light to dark. If you are unsure, you either choose the medium roast or check the ‘I’m not sure’ box.
Generally, the lighter the beans are roasted, the more acidity and fruity flavors you’ll taste. If you love a bright, fruity coffee with no roastiness, go for a light roast. If you enjoy a deeper fruit, closer to stewed or dried fruits, with some chocolatey flavors, a medium roast might be good. If you like those smokey, roasty vibes, check the dark roasts.
The following questions are the most unique part of Trade’s ordering process.
Trade ask about how you like your coffee to taste. While this does seem like an obvious question, many roasters don’t do this. They feel their way of roasting is the best, so you should like it if you know what’s good for you!
They are sort of asking how adventurous you are when it comes to coffee. Do you like coffee that’s classic and traditional’? Maybe ‘hints of something different’, or ‘surprising and unconventional’? Or you can let Trade pick for you.
Picking classic will present you with rich, comfortable, easy-to-love coffee with nothing too odd. Mostly washed coffees with traditional flavor profiles. We’re talking notes of chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit with some mellow acidity.
Choose a hint of something different, and you might start to see a couple of naturally processed lots thrown in the mix. We still won’t see anything too crazy like lactic or anaerobic fermentation, but the coffee style will stray a little and explore the fruitier side that coffee can offer.
Wild children, those with an adventurous spirit (and palette) should choose the surprising and unconventional option. This is the no-holds-barred check box— anything goes. Carbonic maceration? Good. Experimental fermentation and uncommon processing methods? Even better.
The questions thus far are all about finding the perfect caffeinated match!
Lastly, choose what you want to brew— whole bean coffee or pre ground coffee, regular or decaf. In this very last section, you can also add the name of your current favorite coffee roaster. I guess they use this to refine even further what you might like by understanding what you are already drinking.
Hit continue, and the wheels start a’ turnin’!
Trade takes all of your coffee info, pump it into some kind of superintelligent quantum computer (probably), and you’ll see the first of your three recommended coffees. Choose the match that sounds the best by clicking ‘start now,’ and Trade will reveal your subscription tier.
The personalization doesn’t end upon finishing the quiz— oh no! You can even log into the trade website and rate each coffee you receive. The way you rate each coffee, love it or hate it, will help Trade refine your subscription to suit you.
Order Frequency and Quantity
Once you’ve got your subscription tier picked out, you can go ahead and choose how much coffee you want and when.
Having one bag of coffee in each shipment, you can receive a delivery every 1-3 weeks.
Choosing two bags of coffee per shipment, you can receive a box every 1-6 weeks.
All of these high quality beans are shipped out fresh, direct from the coffee roaster themselves.
Having subscription options to receive either 1 or 2 bags at various frequencies is another factor that makes Trade a sub that might work for every coffee lover.
If you love your coffee fresh, just a few days post-roast, you can have that. If you like your coffee well-rested, perhaps 3 weeks post-roast, you can set that up, too.
Let’s review the pricing of both tiers available on Trade coffee.
The Hookup tier covers rarer lots, while The Classics covers blends and the less rare single origins.
Both offerings include free shipping, and both offer 50% off your first coffee!
Let’s break down the pricing:
With the Classics subscription, you can choose to receive 1 or 2 bags in each delivery.
- Receiving 1 bag of coffee per delivery costs $14.75 per bag.
- Receiving 2 bags per delivery, the price drops to $12.50/bag.
The Hookup tier works a little differently. Because the beans on this tier are usually rarer and more expensive, they are priced within a range of between $15 and $22 for a coffee bag.
- Receiving 1 bag per delivery, you’ll get a 15% discount on the price of each bag.
- Receiving 2 bags per delivery, you’ll get a 20% discount per bag.
So on The Hookups tier, you might be charged $16 for a bag one month, then $21 the following month, depending on the coffee.
If I had one issue with Trade coffee, it is in the pricing of ‘The Hookup’ tier. I totally understand some coffees are more expensive than others, but it would be nice to have a set price, so you know exactly what to expect every month.
Having this variance in price is more than likely linked to the fact that they work with 50+ roasters, and of course, each roaster charges different prices for their rarer coffees.
If, after reading this Trade coffee review, you decide to give the subscription a pass, you can order a la carte from the web store. The prices of the coffees are all listed. Place two coffee orders within 30 days, and you’ll receive the 20% off subscription discount on the second order.
If you order more than $30 worth of coffee in one order, you’ll get free shipping. Otherwise, each bag will be charged a $2 delivery fee.
Trade Coffee Isn’t For You If…
Who should avoid the Trade coffee subscription?
Choice Makes You Anxious
Well, an issue that some people might have with Trade is that their coffee selection is simply too large.
Because the roasters that Trade works with are spread across the entire country, there will be a huge variance in styles.
While the initial quiz and Trade’s ‘taste types’ minimize the risk of getting a bag you don’t like, some might get tired of the coffee always being so different.
You Want Surprise Tastings
Ask any coffee pro the best way to sharpen your tasting skills. I’m willing to bet most of them tell you to taste coffee blind. And I don’t mean you should blindfold yourself while drinking your coffee.
Blind coffee tasting is when you either cup or brew coffee blindly, without prior knowledge of the coffee beans. You taste the coffee and take notes.
When you’re done, you find out what the coffee is and where the coffee beans are from. The idea is to refine your tasting skills without the origin, varietal, or roaster clouding your own judgment.
This is one of the key features of the Angel’s Box coffee subscription. Receive a tasting box of nondescript sample bags of coffee and taste them blind.
The Final Verdict
To wrap up this trade coffee review – If you want a totally personalized coffee subscription, you have to give Trade coffee a go!
The ability to tell them exactly what you like from the start and rate each coffee moving forward makes this subscription feel like a goosebumps book with a ‘choose your own scare’ ending.
It’s all the excitement of a coffee subscription, but with very little risk. And that’s something I think most people will love about it.
Coffee Extraordinaire & Writer
Hey! I’m Beau, a writer and coffee professional with over 10 years experience in specialty coffee. If I’m not brewing coffee, writing about coffee or roasting coffee, I’ve probably gone skateboarding!