Website User Experience7.0/10
- Excellent coffee
- Extensive information cards for all coffee that is shipped
- Relatively inexpensive
- Access to Scandinavian roasters' coffee
- Shipping/tax included in pricing
- Slow shipping
- Not enough flexibility in shipping dates
- No decaf options
- No blends
- Simple package design
For the past few months I've been trying out Kaffe Box, a coffee subscription service that sends 2 bags of single origin coffee per month from top micro-roasters in Scandinavian countries.
This has been a particularly exciting experience for me, since I had heard so many great things about the Nordic coffee scene over the years, but never previously had a chance to experience any of it (mostly because I live halfway across the world).
While KaffeBox definitely isn't the most practical way for U.S. residents like me to get their Specialty Coffee, there still may be enough reason to give KaffeBox a try over one of its many competitors.
Please note: I received 3 free months of KaffeBox 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. You can review my affiliate disclosure here.
What Makes KaffeBox Different from Other Coffee Subscriptions?
KaffeBox is very similar to other multi-roaster subscription services in that they send you Specialty Coffee from a different coffee roaster every month. The main distinction, however, is that all of their coffee comes from Scandinavian coffee roasters.
So why does this matter and what makes this an important distinction?
Scandinavians take their coffee very seriously, particularly Specialty Coffee. One could even argue that there is a greater appreciation for things like origins, processing methods, and growing altitudes in Scandinavian coffee culture than there is in American coffee culture.
Micro-roasters and light roast single origin drip coffees are abundant in Nordic coffee, and this is what KaffeBox subscribers get access to.
If you had been meaning to try out some of the excellent coffees from these otherwise inaccessible micro-roasters, Kaffe Box serves as one of your best options.
What Comes in the Box?
KaffeBox is exclusively about the coffee, so you shouldn't be expecting much more than this when signing up for a subscription.
Unlike Boxo, which I previously reviewed, KaffeBox is relatively barebones.
You get two bags of distinct coffees (in terms of origin) from one micro-roaster. In addition to this, the coffee comes with a small card with coffee specs like variety, processing method, and growing altitude that you can geek out on.
Aside from this, there isn't much more inside the box.
Tyler from KaffeBox did let me know that they do include some extra goodies (chocolates and these temporary coffee geek tattoos, for example) in their boxes in some shipments. I didn't personally experience this though.
So if you're expecting to receive anything more than Specialty Coffee in your shipments, you should probably look to another subscription service.
Before I write anything else here, I should make it clear that all of the coffees I received through my KaffeBox subscription were light roast, single origin coffees.
Despite this, as a subscriber you do have the choice of receiving an “espresso” roast instead of the default “filter” roast.
Although I never ended up ordering the espresso roast, I imagine it is similar to what a medium roast in the States would be. Of course, this is a complete guess based off of the limited discussions I've had with those who know Scandinavian coffee culture better than me.
As far as the coffee's quality goes, the bags I received were for the most part, very good. In total, I received 6 different coffees from 3 different roasters:
- La Cabra Coffee Roasters – Kenya Karimikui
- La Cabra Coffee Roasters – Ethiopia Konga
- Solberg & Hansen – Yeni Ramos (Colombia)
- Solberg & Hansen – Jule Kaffe
- April Coffee – San Alberto (Colombia)
- April Coffee – Mayazo (Rwanda)
Of the 6 coffees that I received, I thought that 4 of them were excellent. These were the Yeni Ramos, Kenya Karimikui, and both coffees from April Coffee out of Copenhagen.
The other 2 coffees however, were pretty forgettable given a very high level of acidity and minimal complexity.
Fast shipping is pretty much out of the question if you live in the U.S. Even though KaffeBox says shipping should take anywhere between 4-8 days worldwide, the coffee I received in my first shipment was 16 and 14 days off-roast respectively. Considering KaffeBox's roasters are supposed to ship the coffee 1-2 days off-roast, this was slower than I anticipated.
If we're going by Specialty Coffee's somewhat arbitrary guideline of brewing your coffee within 2 weeks of the roast date, then I basically had not-fresh coffee on my hands.
Hard to complain with “free” shipping though. Plus, I take this freshness guideline with a grain of salt considering some of the best coffee I ever had was more than 2 weeks old.
There are 4 different pricing options for KaffeBox, 8 if you count their “espresso roasts”:
- 1 bag of 250g (1/2 lb) whole bean coffee, billed monthly at around $20
- 2 bags of 250g (1 lb) whole bean coffee, billed monthly at around $34
- 3 bags of 250g (1.5 lbs) whole bean coffee, billed monthly at around $48
- 4 bags of 250g (2 lbs) whole bean coffee, billed monthly at around $60
To be honest, I was actually super confused about their pricing when reviewing the table below. Must be because I was focused on the per bag cost instead of the total cost.
All pricing packages include worldwide shipping and tax. So you're basically paying $1.75 per ounce of coffee at most (if subscribed to option #1), and $1.71 per ounce of coffee at least (if subscribed to option #4).
This is pretty competitive pricing compared to other coffee subscription services, but I wouldn't say that a .04 cent difference between the most expensive and least expensive option is enticing enough to get anyone to order 4 bags of coffee instead of 1.
If you don't care about flexible delivery or getting the freshest coffee possible, KaffeBox is an excellent value for the price alone.
Summary: is KaffeBox the coffee subscription service for you?
Light roast lovers will love KaffeBox, as the Nordic Specialty Coffee scene is known for producing lighter roasts than most U.S. coffee roasters.
KaffeBox is simply Specialty Coffee from Nordic coffee roasters, delivered right to your doorstep. The coffee spec cards that come with the delivery are the most thorough I've seen of the subscription services I've tried so far, which includes Angels' Cup, MistoBox, and Boxo.
Still, there are a few things that will likely keep me from continuing as a KaffeBox subscriber:
- Shipping speed and flexibility
- All of the coffee is delivered at the same time every month, for all subscribers. I think it's important to customize the deliveries to the customers' individual needs. Still, I understand why KaffeBox does this from a logistics perspective.
- The coffee arrives up to 2 weeks post-roast for West Coast U.S. subscribers like myself. This is leaps and bounds slower than many of KaffeBox's competitors. Though, to be fair, all of these competitors are located her in the States.
- Coffee customization
- Currently, you can only choose between light and “espresso” roast. I'd like to see the option of choosing blends vs. single origins, or even decaf.
- More flair/better presentation
- There's something to be said about the coffee subscription services that include a little bit of extra pizzaz with their shipments. Boxo, for example, includes a custom coffee-related print in every box. To me, this makes the subscription a better option as a gift.
If you're just looking for great-tasting light roast coffee, delivered consistently at the beginning of every month, then KaffeBox will definitely tickle your fancy. I was impressed with almost all of the coffees that I tried, despite the relatively slow shipping speeds.
Tried KaffeBox? Have Questions?
As always, if you have any questions about KaffeBox or another coffee subscription service, leave them in the comments section below.
I'd also love to hear about your experience with KaffeBox if you've already tried it. Just leave a comment or review in the same comments section below.