Coffee Subscription Review: Boxo Coffee
Boxo Coffee Subscription$28.99
- Excellent Specialty Coffee
- Discover new roasters every month
- Every box comes with a cool print
- Thorough coffee info cards
- Not customizable
- Coffee typically arrives more than one week post-roast
- Espensive at $1.81/oz
These days, there are seemingly hundreds of coffee subscription services that coffee lovers have the option to choose from. One of these subscription services that is newer to the scene is known as Boxo, and I've been testing it out for the last 3 months so I can bring you today's review.
So what makes Boxo different? Why would you try it over the hundreds of other coffee subscriptions on the market, if at all? Let's find out!
Please note: I received 3 free months of Boxo in exchange for an honest review. I always do my best to not let free coffee or product influence my reviews. I also do not accept compensation to write reviews. I publish reviews for coffee and products that I enjoy (at least partially), and seldom publish reviews for coffee or products I don’t enjoy.
What is Boxo Coffee?
The premise of the Boxo coffee subscription is that every month you will receive 2 bags of single-origin coffee from two different specialty coffee roasters in one of the 50 United States. Every month, the coffee that arrives in your mailbox is from a completely different state.
For example: in September, I received a bag of coffee from Treeline Coffee Roasters and a bag of coffee from Post Coffee Company. Both coffee roasters are located in the beautiful state of Montana (fun fact: this is where Boxo's founder, Derek, is from).
The end result is that you get to try some of the best coffee across the country, from roasters you otherwise would have never heard of or had had the chance to try.
And this one bit is my favorite part of the Boxo coffee subscription service.
You see, most coffee subscription services are simply after the best coffee, from the most well-known coffee roasters. The problem with this model is that the well-known roasters continue to grow and thus, become a part of a growing number of multi-roaster subscription services.
What this means is that if you're subscribed to a subscription like Mistobox, you may receive multiple coffees from the same roaster.
Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're simply looking for great coffee. However, if you are interested in discovering as many new roasters as possible, a subscription from other services won't get you there as quickly as Boxo.
From my understanding, Boxo's goal is to give you access to as many roasters across the U.S. as possible, and this is largely what sets them apart from other coffee subscription services.
Coffee, Art, and Brew Notes
Obviously, when you sign up for Boxo you are not looking for anything but coffee. However, unlike most coffee subscription services, what you get in each box goes beyond the coffee itself.
In each box you receive a small hand printed card designed by Normal Human out of Kansas City, MO. Additionally, you receive a small card with recommended brew methods, roaster notes, Boxo notes, and the coffee's specs like growing altitude and processing method. Finally, there are 2 bags of 8 oz coffee from two different coffee roasters, located in the same state.
Of course, what you're probably curious about more than anything is the quality of the coffee that Boxo selects for its subscribers. Keep in mind, once you sign up you have no control over the coffee that is sent to you. Instead, you have to trust that the team at Boxo will select some damn good coffees that the majority of its subscribers will hopefully approve of.
First off, if you're a dark roast lover you'll likely be disappointed. The coffee Boxo ships is almost exclusively Third Wave/Specialty, which means lighter roasts and single origins make up most of the boxes (in my experience, at least).
To me, this is awesome, because I obviously have an affinity for these types of coffees. For you, however, this might be a little bit too limiting or a reason to stop reading this review altogether and move on to the next subscription.
Regarding the coffee quality, it was mostly excellent. In total, I received 6 different coffees from 3 different states:
- Post Coffee Co. – NDIA-INI AA (Kenya) – Lee's Summit, Montana
- Treeline Coffee Roasters – Panama Camiseta Estate (Panama) – Bozeman, Montana
- Rev Coffee Roasters – Alexis Badilla Cruz (Costa Rica) – Smyrna, Georgia
- Firelight Coffee Roasters – Boa Vista (Brazil) – Atlanta, Georgia
- Vigilante Coffee Company – Gathiruini (Kenya) – Washington, DC
- Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters – Monticello Sunrise (Ethiopia) – Arlington, VA
The Montana coffees were pretty disappointing overall, and I was worried my remaining experience was going to be more of the same. Fortunately, 3 of the last 4 coffees I received were excellent, 2 of which (Alexis Badilla and Gathiruini) were in the top 10 best coffees I had in 2016.
The 4th coffee, the Boa Vista from Brazil was also good, meaning that I received good to great coffee more than 66% of the time I spent with this subscription.
Boxo's Achilles heel is the shipping speed of each box and in turn, how fresh the coffee is by the time it gets to your doorstep.
Each of my boxes arrived a little more than a week past each coffee's roast date, which was comparable to the shipping speeds I experienced when I was subscribed to Angels' Cup. Compared to roasters' with their own subscription services and those bigger multi-roaster subscription services like Mistobox, this isn't egregiously slower shipping, but it's still worth pointing out.
Since the coffee is coming from two different roasters and because Boxo has to throw in their own brewing notes with the artwork from Normal Human, it makes sense that it takes as long as it does for each box to arrive.
I imagine that the fulfillment isn't handled by a third-party provider, so in a way this makes each box a little bit more personal, albeit a little bit more aged.
There are 4 different pricing options for Boxo, and they are relatively straightforward:
- 2 bags of 8oz (1lb) coffee, billed monthly: $28.99
- 2 bags of 1lb (2lbs) coffee, billed monthly: $48.99
- 2 bags of 8oz (1lb) coffee per month, billed yearly: $299.99
- 2 bags o 1lb (2lbs) coffee per month, billed yearly: $509.99
All pricing packages include shipping and tax. So you're basically paying $1.81 per ounce of coffee at most (if subscribed to option #1), and $1.32 per ounce of coffee at least (if subscribed to option #4).
This certainly isn't the cheapest coffee subscription service on the block, but since they're still relatively new, I imagine it will take some time before they are able to get costs down.
I will say that if the coffee was consistently as good as it was in my last 2 shipments, I'd happily be an ongoing subscriber. Considering so much is left up to chance though, it's hard for me to assess the overall value of Boxo at this time, especially as someone who drinks more than 2 lbs of coffee a month.
Summary: is Boxo the coffee subscription service for you?
I really enjoyed my time reviewing Boxo, especially because each box provided that element of surprise that you experience when opening a gift from a friend or family member. To me, the mystery of what will be in the box is what makes this subscription really fun.
As a gift option, I think Boxo is the best coffee subscription service of those I've tried to date. Meaning, I'd be far more likely to give the gift of a Boxo subscription to a friend or family member than I would a Mistobox or Angel's Cup subscription, because every box has a seemingly personal touch to it (even though every subscriber receives the same box). I think the artwork from Normal Human also really helps with this.
For coffee though, I won't remain a regular subscriber until the Boxo team improves a few things:
- More customizability, especially with shipping frequency
- It would be nice to have the option to receive more than one box per month
- Would also be nice to choose general coffee preferences (e.g. light or dark roast)
- Lower prices for the monthly subscriptions
- I think they priced the boxes as best as they could during the start-up stage, but it's still more expensive than some of the competition I've already tried, namely Mistobox ($1.27-$1.83 per ounce).
- Faster shipping
- If they could get the coffee to me in fewer than 7 days off-roast, I'd be more likely to stay subscribed
Otherwise, Boxo is a fantastic coffee subscription service that I'd highly recommend to those who are looking to give the gift of coffee to a friend, family member, or stranger.
Tried Boxo Coffee? Have Questions?
As always, if you have any questions about Boxo Coffee or other coffee subscription services, leave them in the comments section below. I'd also love to hear about your experience with Boxo, just leave a comment or review in the same comments section!