Disclosure: This is a sponsored review. As always though, all opinions are 100% my own.
Trade Coffee is a coffee subscription company that offers 450+ coffees from dozens of roasters from around the country with a robust set of personalization options. Through a quiz during signup, Trade pairs you with pre-selected coffees you can work through in a queue or allows you to select coffees of your own.
Note: I received 3 shipments from Trade for this post, however, as always, all opinions are 100% my own.
Delivery 1 – Ethiopia Limu Organic Natural (PT’s Coffee)
I selected the first coffee via the manual selection option.
I’ve wanted to try PT’s Coffee and always really enjoy naturally processed Ethiopian coffees, so I thought this would be a good coffee to start with. It was a medium roast and was just a bit darker than my preferred roast style. It was listed as “Funky & fruity,” but was much more chocolate-toned and approachable than I was expecting and hoping for.
Delivery 2 – Colombia Carnaval (Maquina)
The second coffee was a recommendation from Trade based on my answers from the quiz at signup (learn more about the quiz in the User Experience section below).
The coffee had the promise of being “super sweet with a crisp, clean acidity and pleasant notes of pear, white grape, and vanilla.” It wasn’t as sweet as I was hoping given the description but definitely was clean and crisp. I tasted some notes of chocolate in the mix as well, but overall it was a very good coffee that aligned well with my drinking preferences.
Delivery 3 – Bank Gotiti – Gedeb, Ethiopia (Mother Tongue)
The third coffee was another recommendation from Trade based on my answers from the quiz at signup.
The final coffee was another naturally processed Ethiopian coffee from a new-to-me roaster, Mother Tongue. The coffee was extremely bright with some wonderful berry notes. It was quite sweet and rich with some nice chocolate and citrus undertones. It was likely my favorite coffee of the set I received.
Trade offers a variety of discounts at signup and during your initial few orders. The prices below are reflective of non-discounted prices at the time of review (January 2022).
Trade does allow you to purchase one-off bags, which range from $17-34 per 12oz bag (includes free shipping). The main offering from Trade though is their subscription, which comes with a variety of options. Depending on the answers to your initial questionnaire (see User Experience section below), Trade will off you two options:
- Lower Tier (~$14.75/bag): A selection of mostly blends and more affordably priced single origins
- Higher Tier ($15-22/bag): A selection of more premium coffees, including rare and unique offerings
These price ranges are estimates depending on which bundle option you select and include free shipping that is part of every subscription order. There are some initial discounts if you subscribe to 3- or 6-bag bundles, but after the promo the cost per bag is $14.75 or $22. Here is a more detailed price breakdown:
- Lower Tier (1 Bag): $14.75 / shipment + free shipping = $1.23 per ounce
- Lower Tier (2 Bags): $25 / shipment + free shipping = $0.96 per ounce
- Higher Teir (1 Bag): $15 – 22 / shipment + free shipping = $1.25 – $1.83 per ounce
- Higher Teir (2 Bags): $30 – 44 / shipment + free shipping = $1.25 – $1.84 per ounce
This pricing model is nice because it allows you to find the style and price range of coffee that you are comfortable with. They offer coffee at the lowest end that is likely one of the most affordable subscription options all the way up to the more specialty coffees that is still quite affordable compared to other subscriptions. I don’t love the initial promotional pricing though, which makes it difficult to know what the cost of the coffee will be long term after the initial promotional period ends.
Note: All of the coffees I received above were from the higher tier.
Trade offers a variety of support methods including a robust knowledge base and the ability to contact their support directly via email or phone (Monday – Friday 9-5pm ET). The knowledge base is searchable and has over 100 common questions in it, including many about managing your subscription. Their email and phone support also offer higher-touch options for support, if needed.
The Trade subscription experience really is seamless from beginning to end. The process begins at signup with a seven-question quiz about how you make coffee (see image 1 below). The quiz focus on the brewer you use, your experience level with coffee, if you drink your coffee black or with cream, and more. Your answers impact the coffees Trade recommends for you after signup (see image 2 below).
While the signup process is incredibly simple and helpful with Trade, once you are a member, there are some other really nice user experience elements as well, including:
- Emails: They send you emails at each step along the way. You receive an email at signup, a few days before your next coffee sends (with the ability to change coffees), when your coffee arrives, etc. You are informed at each step along the way.
- User profile: The user profile area is offers a lot of information about your subscription. You can see past coffees (with the option to review), the status of your current order, future coffees, recommended coffees and have the ability to edit all of it. The design of the subscription area is quite clean and makes it easy to consume the information.
- Coffee catalog & recommendations: With so many coffees offered, it could be overwhelming for some to find the coffee right for them. Trade helps avoid this by both making it incredibly simple to filter the coffee catalog by roast type, style, taste type, etc. They also offer recommendations based on your initial quiz, which allows you to avoid finding coffees yourself altogether.
Being able to easily customize your coffee subscription (how often coffee ships, the size of your shipment, what’s included, etc.) is one of the most important features a coffee subscription can offer. Trade Coffee offers a lot of great customizations with their subscription and is one of the more robust options available. Here are some details about the customizations:
- Pause Subscription: You can pause your subscription for three, six, or nine weeks. It is a bit confusing because the only way to pause is through the cancelation flow though. You also have the option to pause for a longer period of time by contacting their support.
- Shipment size: All of the bags are 12oz, but you can easily add additional bags to your subscription or one-off bags outside of your subscription at any time.
- Shipment frequency: You can choose between the frequency options of: 1 week, 1.5 weeks, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks, 5 weeks or 6 weeks.
- Grind: You can select in your subscription settings if you prefer whole bean or ground coffee. Within ground there are even specific options for the type of coffee maker you use (automatic drip, French Press, Chemex, pour over, espresso, AeroPress, and percolator/cold brew).
- Coffee: Trade offers 450+ coffees in their subscription. You can either select a coffee manually for your subscription or allow Trade to select coffees for you based on your coffee preferences.
- Roasters: There are 50+ roasters that have coffee within the Trade coffee catalog.
- Origin: The coffees available are from origins around the world. They are a mix of single origins and blends.
- Additional customization: At any time you can update your taste preferences (pulled from the initial questionnaire) in your profile. These answers impact the coffees Trade suggests for your “Up Next” area.
Across their 450+ coffees, Trade offers a wide range of quality in their coffee catalog. That said, even their “lowest quality” coffees are quality specialty coffee and come from some of the top roasters in the country (they may just be their more affordable blends, etc.). At the high-end, Trade offers some more exotic and unique coffees that are some of the best coffee you can find in the specialty market.
All coffees from Trade are shipped directly from the roaster and within 24 hours of roasting. Most are shipped USPS and should arrive within 2-5 business days of shipping. How quickly the coffee arrives depends on your location compared to the roaster, but even cross-country you should receive a coffee within a week of the roasting date. This cadence is about as good as can be expected from subscriptions and aligns with the shipping/delivery times of most other subscriptions I’ve tried.
With hundreds of coffees from dozens of roasters ranging from light to dark roast, funky to classic flavor profiles, regular and decaf, and more, Trade has one of the most robust selections of coffees of any subscription service. Regardless of your coffee preferences, you’ll be able to find coffee that would meet your style with Trade.
Coffee Sourcing Standards
Because Trade acts as the middle man between the roaster and the consumer, they don’t have a lot of influence on where the coffee is sourced from. They do allow you to search for coffee by different certifications (Fair trade, Kosher, organic, and rainforest alliance) and have a robust selection for each certification.
All of the Trade coffees come in a 100% compostable, plant-based red bag. It is simple but effective. Within the bag is the coffee and a simple page with information about the coffee. In your first package, you receive a guide to coffee and directions on how to compost the red bag.
The branded material about the coffee is a bit more minimal than other coffee subscriptions but does provide you with the necessary information.
While Trade follows the setup of many subscription services available, there are some ways in which it differentiates itself from others, including:
- Coffee Selection: Trade likely has the largest, most diverse coffee selection of any subscription service. With 450+ coffee options at any given time, you will certainly find a coffee you like in their offerings.
- Onboarding Quiz: The onboarding quiz Trade has each member fill out when beginning their subscription is fairly robust and helps impact the coffees recommended by Trade.
- Free Shipping: Trade offers free shipping on all subscription orders, which is unique from many other subscription services.
The Bottom Line
Trade Coffee is one of the more robust coffee subscription options available. They offer a wide swath of coffees and customizations. It would be a great option for a wide range of specialty coffee lovers.