Have you found it's simply too hard to find the highest caliber selection of elite, internationally roasted coffees where you live? Do you have some way of receiving mail? If so, Collected Coffee, a subscription-based start-up out of New York City, may be just the solution to your woes.
In an era where fancy coffee companies have recognized subscription sales as key to their businesses, the multi-roaster, custom curated, bespoke mail-order boutique coffee landscape seems flooded. Highbrow Collected Coffee aims to set themselves apart not simply by offering great coffees, but greater access. The service offers a monthly rotation of roasts from decidedly wide-ranging locales for $25 per month within the USA.
“We don't think international coffee's necessarily better than domestic, it's just a different experience, and our role is facilitating that experience, making it easier for people—more affordable,” says Lynette Lee, who helms the business end of Collected Coffee.
Andrew Ho is the company's coffee director, helping select and dial in upcoming coffee offerings and providing customized brewing instructions for each month's offering based on his coffee lab results. In the future, he hopes to be able to include information on how to attenuate one's brewing water at home to closer replicate the water used in the region where each coffee was roasted and originally brewed. You know, for that local feel.
The Collected Coffee model is reasonably simple. Unlike some subscription-based coffee resellers who (re)bag their own coffee, Collected sends empty bags to the roaster who then fills them in-house and ships the coffee back to Collected. From there, coffee is packed up with a detailed booklet full of information on the coffee's pedigree and brewing preferences, and shipped to subscribers via United States Postal Service two-day mail. Beyond selecting the coffees themselves, navigating the logistics of how shipping—and reshipping—would work was the hardest part, says Ho.
“Logistically figuring out shipping, customs, learning how the economies of different countries operate—I didn't realize that had such a huge impact on the pricing,” Ho told me in the company's sleek offices in Manattan's Flatiron neighborhood.
“When we were putting together our list of roasters that we wanted to work with, we first looked at roasters that we really admired, like Taf in Greece, White Label in Amsterdam, Small Batch in Melbourne,” says Ho. “From there we had to narrow it down based on ‘can we really logistically do this?'”
Though in a city like New York, one can turn up the occasional interesting coffee from faraway lands at shops like Joe Pro Shop, Budin, or Black Fox, the pursuit requires both footwork and timing. Collected Coffee hopes to take the effort out of gaining a global coffee education for its customers.
“The cafe is so much part of every city and every country's culture that I feel like it's a natural destination,” said Lee. “If you really want to understand a place, you go to the cafe and see what the culture's like there, and through the taste you kind of experience that.”
The subscription service launched this spring with a coffee from the Huila region of Colombia roasted by The Barn in Berlin, followed by coffees from Small Batch, White Label, and Denmark's La Cabra. Collected Coffee also stocks an unsurprisingly well-curated range of home brewing equipment, as well as stylish international magazines, through its online store, including Berlin's mono.kultur and The Happy Reader from London. Art journal Even, with whom Collected shares an office and at which Lee also works, is available as well.
For Collected Coffee, while brewing and sourcing are indeed fine arts of their own, Andrew Ho sees their goal as a little more approachable.
“I think what I find really cool about this is it's making this coffee world a smaller place.”
Liz Clayton is the associate editor at Sprudge.com. Read more Liz Clayton on Sprudge.