From Nuggets to Fuzzy Warbles, who doesn't love a box set? The concept has been wholeheartedly embraced by some of the best brands in specialty coffee. In fact, we contend that the box set format offers an unparalleled way for quality-focused roasters to honor their coffee producer partners, while educating consumers on the extraordinary stories behind these coffees. There's more room for things like tasting notes, brewing guides, and compelling collaborations, and the multi-product format offers the opportunity to present a variety of verticals: single coffees expressed in different ways, multiple varieties from across an individual farm, or even collections that celebrate several different producers throughout a region or country. There's space to play, inform, and delight.
Box sets show us specialty coffee at its aspirational best. We hope you find the selections below inspiring.
One of the sweetest box sets we've ever featured on Sprudge, this remarkable box set from our friends & partners at Madcap Coffee is a coffee gift home run. Featuring 8 different producers from micro-regions across Colombia, this box set is a collection of tins containing 45 grams of coffee hailing from the departments of Huila, Cauca, Tolima, and Quindio. It's a remarkable opportunity to taste your way through coffees from quality-focused individual Colombian producers like Luis Reinoso, Elkin Echeverria, and Danilo Caro. Take our sincere recommendation and make this box set part of your holidays.
Here's another highly recommended box, from our partners at Berlin's Five Elephant Coffee. Custom designed for Five Elephant by Sunst. Studios, only 100 of these birch wood holiday boxes have been made. Each one comes packed with three bags of Five Elephant coffee, including Kenya Kamwangi AA and Ethiopia Bifdu Gudina—coffees that just so happened to have earned first and second place wins at the recent German Brewers Cup championship. These coffees are delicious, and the box itself makes for an attractive piece of art for your home. Act quick—they're shipping worldwide now.
Inspired by Transformers, decoder rings, and secret transmissions, Intelligentsia's Tres Dimensiones box set is a unique look at a rare variety of coffee from Bolivia. “Java” is an island in Indonesia, and a slang term for all coffee, but it's also an individual variety of coffee, like Bourbon or Caturra. At Finca La Linda in Bolivia, producer Pedro Rodriguez cultivates this uncommon variety, and working with Intelligentsia he's composed a three dimensional look at his product. Your box set contains roasted Java coffee beans (sure, cool), along with Java cascara (hey, nice) and Java variety coffee flowers for steeping into coffee flower tea (wow). Coffee flower tea is deeply delicious and could be a big new trend for specialty coffee enthusiasts, but only a tiny bit of the stuff makes it outside origin countries. This is a rare and frankly exciting opportunity to get your paws on some.
And the box comes with 3D glasses, a 3D poster, and brewing/steeping instructions for all the included goodies (plus more info about the farm & producer). Box sets, man—they inspire greatness. This one is something special.
We featured this tasteful box set in our Hanukkah gift guide, but we're showing it off here again out of completist impulse. This is three beautiful coffees from the same region of Honduras, including coffee from El Ocotillo, a farm seen previously on Sprudge helping Charles Babinski win the United States Barista Championship. Read more about the coffees in this box set from 49th.
A very special limited-edition box set from Gimme, featuring three coffees from Finca San Luis and producer Omar Arango. The box itself is hand-stained using coffee concentrate, and it includes a series of special-edition postcards featuring a hand-written message from the producer himself.
Gesha gesha gesha! Coffee's it-variety is on display in this handsome box from Onyx Coffee of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Granja La Esperanza is a household name in coffee nerd circles, and Las Margaritas is that farm's project dedicated to special and experimental coffees. That's where Colombian agronomist Rigoberto Hermos decided to plant much sought-after Gesha variety coffees, and the farm has supplied Onyx this gesha coffee in three distinct processing methods: washed, natural, and honey processed. Add to that a lot of even-more-rare peaberry Gesha, and well…whomever you buy this for is going to freak out.
When it comes to Calgary's Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, there's not really a weak spot in the roster. You can put your trust into them when it comes to decision-making time, and that's what this sampler box is all about. Just let P&S know which part of the planet they're shipping to, and they'll handle the rest. With current coffees like Ethiopia Mekuria, Honduras Margarito Herrera, and Costa Rica Miguel Rojas, we predict you will enjoy the results.
Stumptown's holiday offerings are all about collabs. We featured their Mazama mugs in our essential mug guide, and we're recommending their box set with Mast Brothers Chocolate here. Get a bag of tasty Ethiopia Nano Challa and a bar of chocolate in an under-the-tree-ready handsome red box. At just $27 it's an agreeable price, and we hereby grant you chocolate dunking privileges.
The Estate Series is PT's Coffee's chance to highlight and amplify some of the best work being done at origin by their producer partners. This box celebrates the efforts of producer Juan Diego de la Cerda, whose Finca El Soccoro in Guatemala offers a bevy of varied microclimates, terrain slopes, and planted coffee varieties. In the box you'll find Pacamara and Maracaturra variety coffees, plus a special selection of Yellow Reserva, a single-estate blend of high-grown Yellow Caturra and Yellow Bourbon coffees. Much more information about this box and PT's Direct Trade relationship with Finca El Soccoro can be found on the PT's website.
Dogwood's commitment to unique, memorable branding and flavor notes continues to amaze us, year after year, and this year's holiday offering is no different. Snow Emergency is a blend of washed coffee from Tolima, Colombia and natural processed coffee from Ethiopia; the Dogwoods say it's “the perfect thing to be drinking out of your thermos while you’re driving around aimlessly for hours trying to find somewhere to park on the side of the road where you won’t get towed.” Pick your bag up with a charming Dogwood Coffee be-logo'd enamel mug, all boxed up in a tasteful set.
Here's a different take on the idea of a coffee box set, from LA's Bar Nine Collective. They're pairing three of their favorite coffees—Kayu Peaberry from Kenya, plus two Ethiopian offerings—alongside everything you need to learn the coffee flavor and aroma evaluation process known as “cupping”. The set includes cupping bowls by Espresso Parts, a silver-plated cupping spoon with Bar Nine's logo engraved, and helpful how-to instructions. This is a great gift for the burgeoning coffee pro in your life!
A love letter to the Menendez family of Finca Las Delicias in El Salvador, this box comes stocked with three 6oz. bags of washed, honey processed, and natural processed Pacamara coffee. Throw in one of Water Ave's classic diner mugs and you're set. At just $30 this is a reasonably priced way to taste your way across one of El Salvador's best coffee farms, run by a multi-generational family of producers.
La Colombe's boutique Workshop brand is featured in this box, highlighting coffees from Ethiopia, Colombia, and Mexico. If you want to dig deeper, La Colombe's website has more gifts for the coffee enthusiast, with selections from some of the brand's very own baristas. Check out their gifts hub for more ideas.
We profiled the Blue Bottle x Dick Taylor collab when it launched back in November, and we're including it here because the box set version of this pairing makes a lovely holiday gift. Dick Taylor Chocolate is the bomb, basically. Let the Guatemalan chocolate in this box be a gateway to the brand, and do not, repeat, do not sleep on their fig bar.
Once upon a time only certain things—like wine and certain spirits—were aged in barrels. But now it's game on: pre-mixed cocktails, all manners of beer, cider (for the gluten-free crowd), bitters, Worcestershire sauce (it's true), soy sauce, and yes, coffee. The folks at Dillanos Coffee are getting in on the action with this here box set, which offers two different glimpses at two unique coffees. First try their Guatemala Rio Azul, then try it aged in a freshly used whiskey-porter barrel. Then check out Costa Rica Las Lajas, first on its own, then after it's been aged in a French oak barrel previously used for red wine. If you've got some kind of coffee snob on your shopping list who thinks they've seen it all, this box set will blow their minds.
Jordan Michelman is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge.com. Read more JM on Sprudge.
This feature is part of our 2015 Festival Of Guides.