So I came across this little fairly new coffee by post service on Facebook the other day. It’s called eightpointnine (the number of grams of coffee required to make a good 160g cup) and it’s essentially a mash up of Graze (the people who make the cool little snack boxes delivered to your door), and some of the coffee-by-post subscription services offered by the likes of Has Bean and Square Mile Coffee Roasters. They had (and still do) have a free trial thing going where you get the first box for free, so I figured that I should give it a go. Here’s what I thought.

I received this box in the post yesterday morning. My first thought was how ‘graze’ of them. It’s almost the same dimension packaging. I guess because it does fit elegantly through letterboxes. Though considering this is coffee, perhaps all this packaging, for just 150g of beans is maybe overkill. Would a more rigid bag with similar dimensions not suffice? It just seems like a lot of waste.

Opening the box reveals a bag of beans and an info card hidden under it with the details of my blend. The general aim with eightpointnine is customisation of the blend of beans, and I think they attempt to do that well. You can choose how you like your coffee on a scale of spicy to fresh and another scale from light to rich. What I perhaps have a issue with, is that focussing so exquisitely on the blend is a losing proposition. There are obviously other factors, that probably outweigh this. Namely the beans, and their origin/background and the roast.

There’s even a blend date?! What conceivable difference to the coffee is blending on a different date going to do? Old beans blended with old beans are still old beans, even if they were blended yesterday. Roast date is what you want to be focussing on. Ideally you want the freshest beans possible, and by freshest, I mean those with the most recent date of roasting. Perhaps changing the focus of the product to reflect this could be beneficial. I would prefer having a single origin coffee with a recent date of roasting than a personally tailored blend roasted an indiscriminate number of weeks or days ago.

And the price too. I’m not wholly convinced. You’re paying £5.89 a box normally, for 150g of coffee. At Has Bean you’re paying between £4.00 and £9.00 for 250g, and £1.96ish for shipping. That’s pretty much the same price for more (definitely fresher) coffee at the cheap end of the scale. Square Mile goes for £7.00 to £10.00 for 350g, and £2.45 shipping. This is again pretty much the same price per gram, and it’s likely to be fresher. If you then factor in the subscription coffees that these companies do, then you’re likely to save even more.

So overall, I do think the idea of having a custom blend appeals, and the manner of the subscription service is great, but there are far more fundamental things that they could focus on. Ahem, roast date. And perhaps the packaging could maybe be redesigned and reduced.

I really shouldn’t have a pseudo review of coffee without mentioning the actual coffee. It’s quite dark roasted (especially as I chose light), it doesn’t smell amazingly fresh, and it’s just distinctly average brewed as espresso through my La Pavoni. Sadly (and I mean that honestly, I would have liked to like this), it’s nothing on Artisan Roast’s Janszoon, which I really rather enjoyed.

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