This Company Uses An Algorithm To Match You With Your Perfect Coffee
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As a parent of three young children, every day begins with the urgent question: Coffee, when? On good days, I take my first sip before the chaos ensues. But more often than not, it’s a frantic charge — how much of the coffee-making process can I get done before the hangry littles turn against me? When I do find my way to a warm cup, it is a moment of zen that I genuinely savor. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you need Trade Coffee in your life. Trade is a coffee subscription service on a mission to make your morning cup better. Think: roasted-to-order beans delivered straight to your front door on a schedule of your choosing.
What Is Trade?
Trade partners with the best craft roasters across the U.S. to ensure that the beans you get are of the highest quality. (There’s even an in-house Q grader). But there’s more to the subscription than just great beans showing up at your house. Trade uses a sophisticated algorithm to ensure that the beans arriving are exactly in line with your coffee tastes and preferences.
To do that, you first have to take a super-simple quiz — there are just eight questions that you answer via infographic. As someone who is always short on time but long on tasks that need to get done, I wasn’t that excited about taking the quiz. But it turns out, it’s kind of fun and incredibly accurate. Case in point: my top “coffee match” had roast notes that completely catered to my current at-home barista aspirations.
How Does The Subscription Work?
Once you have your coffee matches, you get to customize to your heart's content. You select the bag size that you prefer, the delivery cadence you want, and whether you want the beans whole or ground (per your preferred brewing device). You then select the number of bags you want to get started with, and boom, you’re ready to check out.
I’m the kind of person who sets calendar reminders to cancel free trial subscriptions and I have a fair amount of existential dread when I see the phrase “auto-renew,” so I was relieved to see that, with Trade, you can change or pause your subscription at any time.
I also liked the idea that you can rate the beans you receive so that your preferences keep getting updated and fine-tuned. Essentially, the more data you give Trade’s algorithm, the more refined the results, so you are always moving towards coffee nirvana.
But How Much Does It Cost?
In terms of pricing, there are two tiers: Select, which is your entry-level craft coffee and it will run you around $15.75/ bag, and Premium, which delivers an even more curated selection of hard-to-find beans and costs roughly $19.50/bag. I did a quick back-of-the-napkin price breakdown and I think $15.75 per bag is basically on par with what I’m paying now for beans. The fact that I have to physically go to a coffee shop to pick up my order, and that sometimes that order is ground to the wrong fineness or the wait is interminable, swayed me towards Trade’s model even if I might be paying a buck more, give or take.
What’s more, with Trade you know that the coffee is ultra-fresh and responsibly sourced, and it’s supporting small to medium-sized roasteries across the country.
The Roasters By Region
Maybe you’re not ready to go full-tilt and sign up for a subscription. Trade also sells beans by the bag. You can shop the roasters by region, which allowed me to get a better geographical sense of Trade’s partnerships — and I liked what I saw. There were roasteries in the coffee meccas you’d expect, like Portland, Oregon, and foodie hubs, like Austin and Brooklyn, but there were also roasteries in places like Canton, Georgia, and Topeka, Kansas, that piqued my curiosity. I wanted to taste what they had going on there; see if my palate could detect regional nuances in technique.
Whether you’re from the Northeast or just have an affinity for the area, it’s worth checking out Trade’s impressive roster of East Coast roastery partnerships. I lived in New York for 12 years so I’ll always seek out Brooklyn coffee when I can. (I especially have eyes on the City of Saints roastery in Bushwick.) But the offerings extend well beyond New York, to more unexpected places like Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Portland, Maine. Trade also serves up travel guides for cities all around the U.S., like this one for Philly.
I now call Madison, Wisconsin, home and I was impressed with Trade’s line-up of Midwest roasters. A good friend of mine turned me on to Wonderstate Coffee, the first solar-powered roastery in the nation, and I can vouch for the quality of their beans.
I admittedly don’t know much about the South, but perhaps that’s why I was most excited to learn more about what’s happening there. What are the good people at the family-run Red Rooster Coffee, in Floyd, Virginia getting up to? (For starters, providing subsidized onsite childcare for their workers.)
And after reading about Common Voice Coffe Co, in Nashville, Tennesee, I’m utterly pining for a trip to explore that coffee scene.
The West Coast has a reputation for churning out some incredible coffee, so I knew Trade’s Western line-up of roasteries would be on point. And the incredible backstories of each and every business — like the female-run Mother Tongue in Oakland, California — had me wanting to support all of them.
Final Verdict: Is The Subscription Worth It?
If you’re ready to get a little more serious about coffee, then yes, the subscription is worth it. Trade’s focus on fresh beans alone is sort of a game-changer (roasted to order instead of beans that languish on the shelf — yes please). Plus, the fact that you get to explore new roasters and continuously expand your coffee horizons is what really makes it worth trying.
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