I’ve been a subscriber of Craft Coffee for a while now and was a champion of the company from day one. When I signed on with Craft, I was excited by the prospect of receiving three coffees, from different roasters, every month. I love coffee and I love exploring and trying new roasters (I get particularly excited at the prospect of populating My Roaster Map with more and more pins); so I was really excited by Craft’s business model of shipping out exciting new coffees from different roasters every month right to my doorstep. I could be constantly discovering and trying new roasters without even leaving my house!
Over time, as all most businesses do, Craft Coffee evolved. Their roster of roasters expanded, they introduced a customizable box algorithm to give their subscribers only coffees that they’d have a predisposition toward liking, they started roasting their own coffee in-house and including it in the monthly shipments… The first month I received a Craft-roasted coffee, back in September 2015, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t a great coffee, but it was a good one and an admirable first effort at roasting for the company. I was even a little excited about the possibilities for the company. Then they sent out another one of their coffees in the October box; then again in the November box; and the December box. And as Craft’s business model continued (and continues) tp evolve, so too did (and does) my opinion of the company and, more specifically, the service.
Let me start off by saying that I still love the concept of Craft Coffee. I still get excited when I come home from a long day at the office to find the latest Craft Coffee box resting at my doorstep, just waiting for me to rip into; I get a rush of anticipation when I peel the tape away and tear apart the packaging to find out which roasters I’ll be adding to My Roaster Map later in the evening, which coffees I’ll be cupping in the coming days. The changes that Craft has made to their service, though, are making me less and less giddy with excitement every time I receive a package, and there are a few reasons for this.
For one thing, I’ve noticed that the roasters they select for their boxes are getting monotonous. Every month, I almost expect to get a coffee from Kickapoo, Kuma, Toby’s, Sunergos, PERC, or Barrington… The variety has greatly diminished over the past half year or so, and even more so since Craft started roasting their own coffee. I don’t know what the reason for this is (and, of course, it might only be my own perception and not actuality). It’s possible that Craft is losing roaster accounts, and it’s possible that the same handful of roasters are ending up in boxes two or three times per year because their coffees really are that much better than all of the other submissions Craft receives. My guess, though, is that the box customization feature dramatically reduced the number of options available to subscribers.
Early last year (I believe), Craft asked their subscribers to partake in a survey that asked them their favorite brewing methods, how you drink your coffee, and how you grind it; Craft put the responses into their algorithm to come up with different tiers of “brew profiles.” Then they only ship you coffees that fit within your designated brew profile. This is a pretty nifty service. It was a pretty smart move by Craft, too; there is a much less likely chance of subscribers canceling their subscriptions due to receiving coffees they don’t like. For those of us who embrace experience in favor of the familiar, it’s not as exciting. I signed up for Craft Coffee, not because I want to experience three coffees that fit within the same profile month after month; rather, I signed up because I wanted to expand my horizons, discover new roasters, try different coffees, and have unique experiences. Whether I receive coffees I love or coffees that I don’t love, it’s all part of the experience that I signed on for. Again, I’m all for the Brew Profile customization feature – I really am; it’s a nice option for subscribers who want to have a consistent experience from month to month. However, I wish Craft would allow their subscribers the option to decline the feature.
Another change that reduced the number of different roasters I get to try is Craft’s inclusion of their own coffees in every box. This is the change I’m most upset about. Again, I signed up for Craft because I wanted to try a wide variety of coffees from a wide variety of roasters – not because I wanted to try one roaster’s coffees month after month. If that’s what I wanted, I would have signed up for a Tonx, or a Ruby, or a Compelling & Rich, or a Kuma subscription. Craft’s decision to decrease the number of different roasters represented in each box from three to two also decreased the aspect that made Craft such an attractive service in the first place.
I love Craft Coffee, and I have an enormous amount of respect for them and what they’ve done for the specialty coffee industry. And I’m going to stick with them, because I’m still pleased with the service overall. If these recent changes perpetuate and turn the company into something much worse, though, I may have to reconsider my loyalty.
What were your thoughts of Craft Coffee’s recent changes? Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome! Feel free to enter a comment below. Also remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!
Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.