07 February 2018

Coffee Subscription Review: Dog & Hat

Sampling outstanding coffees, discovering new roasters and trying coffee varieties or origins that I might not otherwise have chosen are three of my top criteria when considering a speciality coffee subscription service. With a dapper, doggy sigil and a focus on high-quality, ethically sourced coffee, Dog & Hat Coffee is a multi-roaster speciality coffee subscription service run by the Morgan Family in York. I had heard good things about the company, including from fellow coffee bloggers Bean There at, who reviewed the November box, and my first Dog & Hat box easily met all three criteria.

Su from Dog & Hat kindly offered to send me a complimentary box for review, although I wasn't obliged to post anything, and as always, receiving a review product influences neither my decision to review it nor my opinions of it in any reviews I do write. I received the February box, which included three bags of coffee beans, one roaster for filter, one for espresso, and one that would work equally well for both. And overall, I was very happy both with the service and the coffee — two of the three coffees were truly excellent, and the third allowed me sample some very good coffee from a country still in the early stages of its speciality-coffee journey.

The box arrived towards the end of January. Very few coffee (and other) packages fit through my letterbox at home (and the three-coffee box is unlikely to fit through many people's letterboxes) so I had it delivered to my office. I was impressed, however, with the minimal and completely recyclable packaging — no plastic and no bumf, just the coffee and Dog & Hat's concise but detailed coffee guides.

When you sign up for a Dog & Hat subscription, you can select whether you'd like two bags of (usually) 250g coffee beans per month (£17) or three (£24), and whether you'd prefer espresso-roasted beans, filter-roasted beans or an assortment. Delivery is free within the UK, which makes the service very good value, especially given the quality of the coffee. The coffees also arrived soon after their roast date, which is particularly important for people like me who live alone and who sometimes take a fortnight to get through a bag of beans. My box featured three new-to-me, UK roasters (previous Dog & Hat boxes have featured roasters from other European countries):

I started with the Pharmacie coffee (not just because the packaging coordinated so well with my Acme cup). I ground the coffee in my new Wilfa Svart grinder and brewed a cup using my Kalita Wave dripper. Dog & Hat's coffee guide includes a suggested water:coffee ratio, which was a very helpful starting point. When you've got an outstanding coffee, the specific flavour notes hit you as you stand over your brewing device; in this case, I left my mug in my kitchen and I could smell the apricot and creamy strawberry notes from the hallway. Needless to say, this coffee extracted beautifully, both at home and in my less precise, kettle-free, scales-free office kitchen. What a super coffee! Pharmacie are one of my favourite UK roasters and they have a knack for finding really special coffees, sourced from farms around the world and often showcasing rarer origins.

The honey-processed coffee from the Don Chico cooperative in Costa Rica, was roasted by London-based Long & Short for espresso and although it made a nice enough pourover, it really shone as an espresso. My home espresso brewing lags behind my filter-coffee efforts, but even my inexpert shots tasted very good as espresso with chocolatey and nutty notes shining through. When I made a flat white, my latte art proved more recognisable than usual — another good sign that the coffee was extracting very nicely.

Finally, I turned my attention the Fuyan — not the first speciality coffee from China I've tried, but my sample size is pretty small. Although coffee production in China continues to grow (with China now ranking among the world's top 15 coffee-producing nations), after its introduction in the Yunnan region in the 19th century, speciality-grade coffee hasn't been as common thus far. As such, I was very interested to try this Django coffee from Yunnan. At the heart of the Fuyan cooperative are a group of farmers who are passionate about raising the quality of the coffee that they grow. In this case, the coffee comes from the Catimor varietal, a particularly hardy Arabica varietal. I brewed the coffee through the Kalita Wave, and got various complex, fruity flavours, including raisin and plum, and it has really opened my eyes to a coffee origin to which I hadn't given much consideration until now.

You can sign up for a Dog & Hat subscription here. They are taking orders for the March box — which includes coffees from Hoppenworth & Ploch, Dear Green and Moonroast, as well as a sample from The Girl in the Cafe — until 20 February.

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