Coffee Subscriptions Are Booming: Here’s How They Connect Roasters with Customers Near and Far 


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The pleasure offered by a coffee subscription is simple yet gratifying for both consumers and roasters. For consumers, a subscription provides ease: coffee is taken care of, you don’t have to worry about ordering more, and you can set the delivery frequency to receive your favorite coffees as often as you need. For roasters, subscriptions offer a stable stream of revenue and predictability—you know just how much coffee you need to roast for your subscribers.  

Today, coffee subscriptions account for approximately 2% of global coffee spending, about $685 million annually. That market share is expected to grow and reach 5-7% of total coffee spending by 2032. While their popularity grows, roasters still have to find ways to make their subscriptions stand out. 

Some are finding success by really honing in on their customers. Folks who live near your roastery or cafe have different needs than those far away, and offering perks and experiences that speak to where your consumers are at (literally) can help build your subscription’s appeal. 

A New Era of Coffee Subscriptions

Coffee subscriptions hit their stride as the internet became a more widely used sales platform. While subscriptions continued to gain market share in the 2010s, the COVID-19 pandemic drastically accelerated their growth. 

With consumers stuck at home, the need for coffee to make at home grew alongside cafes’ need to boost sales while their stores remained empty. Coffee subscriptions became a way for businesses to deliver familiar customer experiences while folks stayed home.

“We knew that people would need an easy solution for getting coffee that they may have been going to [cafes to] get before,” says Mike Schroeder, co-owner of Oddly Correct in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Today, coffee subscriptions account for approximately 2% of global coffee spending, about $685 million annually. That market share is expected to grow and reach 5-7% of total coffee spending by 2032.

Oddly Correct began their No Fuss subscription during lockdown—the idea was to offer regulars who were used to buying drinks made at the cafe with a simple whole-bean option as they adjusted to making coffee at home. At $14 a bag, with the option to receive coffee weekly or every other week, the subscription offers coffee at “the price-point of grocery store coffee,” according to their website.

Even as lockdown restrictions were lifted, No Fuss remained popular. Oddly Correct has other subscription options, but as the name indicates, No Fuss offers a simple option for people who want a reliably tasty cup of coffee. “We’re known for sourcing and roasting so[me] wild and unique coffees,” their website states, “but if you just like the simplicity of a good solid cup in the morning, this No-Fuss subscription is for you.”

Going Local

Focusing on local customers is one of the first steps to building a solid coffee subscription program, according to Tony “Tonx” Konecny of YES PLZ. YES PLZ is based in Los Angeles and runs as a standalone subscription service: they don’t have a brick-and-mortar store or wholesale roastery business. They provide users with a few subscription models to choose from but notably offer an option called The Mix, where subscribers get a new coffee, selected by the YES PLZ team, weekly.

Konecny—who previously operated another coffee subscription service called Tonx Coffee before selling it to Blue Bottle in 2014—says YES PLZ built its popularity by focusing on LA’s coffee culture and being early movers in the coffee subscription space. About a third of YES PLZ’s volume comes from subscribers who live in the LA area. “I think that a lot of that [is because] we’ve done lots of projects with coffee and coffee-adjacent stuff in LA and gotten lots of press. So I think there’s a built-in brand recognition here,” Konecny says. 

According to LA-based Nice Coffee Roasters owner Elliott Lau, part of building local subscribers is making sure they feel appreciated. “[We’re focusing] more on [a] gifting and gratitude-showing strategy,” he says. 

Lau and his co-owner, Doug Meils, designed their new subscription program, called Locals Only, to tap into the energy of getting a bonus when buying a bag of coffee. “Doug and I are old-school enough to remember a time…when you bought a bag of coffee from your local coffee shop… you would get a cup of coffee [for free],” Lau says. 

Locals Only was designed to bring back that feeling and incentivize subscribers to visit Nice Coffee’s brick-and-mortar space. “Anyone who signs up for [Locals Only] gets a $15 gift card to the cafe every month,” says Lau.  

Long-Distance Relationships

Most subscriptions cannot rely entirely on local consumers subscribing, and giving away benefits like gift cards to your brand’s physical space doesn’t work for subscribers who live far away. Building ways to connect with consumers who don’t live locally is a critical part of a subscription strategy. 

Schroder estimates that Oddly Correct subscribers are about 50% local and 50% national customers. They make their subscription unique by offering exclusive coffees that are only available to subscribers and featuring new and unique handmade artwork on each bag. 

“The hand drawn packaging is a new way to engage people in their semi-mundane processes of making morning coffee,” Schroder says. “If you have this weird, interesting, engaging art on your coffee bag to check out and ponder, it just adds a new dimension of interest for the customer.” He likens it to doing the puzzle on the back of a cereal box. 

Lau and Melis also offer a subscription called Local Distance Relationship (LDR), which includes a quarterly gift, like a t-shirt, mug, or tote bag—all designed by Melis. “It’s a way to help us get artistic, do some low-key R&D on what kind of merch people are vibing with at home in the LDR,” Lau says.

Building Interest

Schroeder saw something interesting with No Fuss subscribers. While during the early days of the pandemic, many consumers signed up for subscriptions to maintain a semblance of normality and support local businesses, No Fuss had more staying power than many lockdown-era initiatives. The subscription found a niche with “people who are…trying to support a local company,” Schroeder says. “Or they like good quality coffee, but they’re looking to spend a little bit less money.” 

Although the subscription still fulfills its initial goal, today, No Fuss now serves a new purpose: introducing coffee lovers to specialty coffee. “It’s affordable. We do that on purpose,” Schroeder says. “It’s a gateway coffee for a lot of people [to] introduce people to the world of specialty coffee.” 

Nearly every coffee roaster has a subscription service, so roasters must intentionally create experiences and connect with local and national subscribers. As the market for coffee subscriptions continues to grow, knowing what a consumer down the street needs versus someone thousands of miles away will help brands curate subscriptions that meet all their consumers’ needs.

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Veronica Blaine

Veronica Blaine has been writing about coffee for over six years. She is passionate about issues of equality in coffee. She is based in Baltimore, Maryland.

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