12 September 2013

The Caffeine Chronicles: Delivering Us from Crap Coffee

Ever since I unsubscribed from Glossybox, I've been having serious mail envy at work. I don't like shopping online and my co-workers always seem to get better post than me. Enter Pact, a new coffee subscription service, which aims to bring good coffee to the UK, including to those whose only option is a packet of Lavazza in the supermarket. For £6.95 (including postage), Pact will send you 250g of really good coffee, ground or not, according to your needs, as often as you want (weekly and fortnightly are the default options).

Their goal is a worthy one, but initially, I was hesitant. I live five minutes away from Monmouth's Bermondsey outpost, and part of the fun of coffee-drinking is choosing my own coffee bean adventure. I didn't want to be tied down to the default frequency options, although you can skip as many deliveries as you like. Given the chance to switch to a monthly delivery and armed with a code for a free 100g sample bag, however, I hit the button. Actually, this wasn't entirely intentional; beautifully designed as the website is, it's also a little trigger-happy, so be careful where you click.

I was sort of hoping that the first batch wouldn't be any good — adequate for those who don't have easy access to London's wealth of premium coffee suppliers, perhaps, but not anything special. No such luck: the single-origin Brazilian Rodomunho beans I received were excellent: a light roast (AKA more caffeine) with the honey and milk chocolate notes promised by the description. I usually brew with an Aeropress for which I felt like the Rodomunho was a good match.

Rodomunho beans in the Pact package.

My second batch, and first full-size bag, was from El Salvador. This variety is apparently particularly well suited for an Aeropress, but I actually preferred the Rodomunho. The coffee is still very good, but you can definitely taste the fruity acidity and I prefer my coffee a little smoother.

The packs come with the date of roasting, the name of the person who packed the coffee and a little feedback checkbox, where you can Tweet whether the coffee was "life changing," "smile inducing" or "not my cup of tea." A nice idea.

My first Aeropress brew with the Rodomunho coffee. Cup from Joe.

I was even more pleased when I found out that the Pact office is just down the road from me, next to where I went bouldering. It's a lot harder to cancel a subscription when you have local loyalty to take into account! But I plan to keep my subscription active for now, although I might skip a month or two if I'm, say, going to New York and want to bring back my own beans. Even though I can get hold of good coffee easily, there are still weeks when I don't have time to go to stock up. Which is where Pact steps in. You usually get your coffee the day after ordering and the package fits through "90% of letterboxes" — unfortunately, not including mine, which is too narrow, although I usually get packages sent to my office.

If you're a coffee geek or just love great coffee, give Pact a try; you won't regret it.

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