OK, you got me. Trücup doesn’t actually have a subscription service and shouldn’t really be on this list. But it’s also missing something else: acid. The low acid content of Trücup makes it a great option for coffee lovers with sensitive stomachs who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or heartburn. If you’ve been diagnosed with GERD, talk to your physician before you try Trücup, though.
Trücup is still worth your time even if you’re fortunate enough to have a stomach that can handle normal coffee. It’s mellow and a top pick for drinking in the afternoon and evenings, as it’s easier on the stomach. There is no way to subscribe, but you can order grounds or biodegradable single-serve pods to your door.
Subscription Beans vs. Locally Roasted Beans
These subscription services all produce killer coffee beans, and they all taste great. But none of them taste better than coffee roasted locally. For the most flavorful coffee that has a direct impact on your community, you’re best served by looking up local coffee roasters–whether that’s a café in the same city, state, or geographical region.
Coffee is at its best shortly after roasting. The longer it stays on a shelf or on a delivery truck, the less flavorful it’ll be. Plus, ordering coffee locally minimizes the environmental impact of having stuff shipped from across the country (or across the continent). The best way to do that is by heading to your local coffee shop and having a look at what coffee they serve. (They might even roast and sell their own!)
How We Tested, and How You Should
To test these subscriptions, we brewed each bag in different ways to see which beans were best suited to which brewing method. It’s worth doing the same if you have access to different brewing methods, especially if you opt for a subscription that offers a lot of variety. A roast that makes a great shot of espresso does not necessarily make the best pour-over coffee.
In the same vein, take notes on what you like and dislike. Several of these services have very nice websites where you can record your notes and mark particular coffees you liked. Take advantage of these features, because you will probably forget. The coffee never stops coming with these subscriptions, which is both a blessing and a curse. If you’d like some more pointers, be sure to read our guide to brewing better coffee at home.
Let’s Destigmatize Decaf
Coffee aficionados are a fickle bunch, and they tend to like dunking on people who drink decaf. But here’s the thing: Decaf can be good. Yes, the decaffeination process changes the flavor, and yes, you often miss out on delicate floral notes. It’s unfair to exclude people from enjoying coffee, period, and talking smack about decaf coffee can also be ableist. Drinking caffeinated coffee all day can seriously impact your sleep, and some people can’t tolerate caffeine for medical reasons or just don’t like the way it makes them feel or the way it interacts with certain medications.
Coffee is for everyone! There is such a thing as good decaf, and two of our favorite services on this list offer a selection of decaffeinated coffee. Even if you’re a caffeine fiend, it can be nice to unwind with a cup of decaf in the evening—it’s especially well-suited for mixed espresso drinks, where typically bold chocolatey and smokey notes can really bring a mocha to life. Even in a French press or pour-over context, decaf (or a blend of decaf and caffeinated beans) is a good pick for afternoon coffee service. No need to worry about afternoon jitters or insomnia.
Be sure to read our guides to the Best Coffee Grinders, Best Espresso Machines, Best Portable Coffee Makers, Best Portable Espresso Makersand Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers for our favorite brewing tools. Also, have a read through our guide to making better coffee at home for more tips.
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