Trade Coffee is an online matchmaker for coffee lovers and their coffee — here's how a subscription works and how you can get 30% off your first bag

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The Counter by Trade

  • Trade Coffee Co. is an online matchmaker for coffee lovers and their coffee.
  • In addition to lovingly grown and roasted beans, Trade also sells equipment from coffee pots and cold brew kits to filters and scales.
  • Subscriptions start at $12.50 per 12-ounce bag, so it's a step up in price from grocery stores, but for me, there's nothing more precious than a cup of good coffee every morning. 
  • There are frequent discounts; currently, you can take 30% off your first bag and get free shipping too.
  • According to Trade, it hasn't experienced any delays in fulfilling orders or deliveries, though its USPS partner might be. Its roasters are also following "health and safety standards, including mandatory handwashing practices, regularly disinfecting surfaces that come into contact with products and materials destined for customers, and employees being encouraged to stay home when feeling ill."

No coffee buying experience has ever led me through six web pages of consultative questions in order to pair me with a bag of coffee. After the folks (or algorithm) at Trade presented me with a suggestion, I gamely took it. Now, here I sit with my feet up, sipping from a soupcon that is surely delivering me ever closer — with each shot — to a time and place where I can confidently claim that I am, indeed, living my very best life.

Okay, I might be taking you for a bit of a ride here, but if you want to learn how to profile your ideal cuppa (and maybe self, while you're at it), there may be no better way than with the help of Trade Coffee.

Depending on your profile, Trade may match you with The Classics, which is their best value plan at $25 for two 12-ounce bags. Then there's The Hookup for those seeking something "surprising and unconventional" at $15 to $22 per 12-ounce bag. While the prices are more expensive than what you might be used to, Trade runs a good amount of discounts — right now, it's offering 30% off your first bag, and shipping is always free.

The process, intimidating at the outset, perhaps, is so thoroughly yet tidily detailed that it's a breeze.

What we like most about the selection and customization process is how unassuming it is. You don't feel like you're diving in headfirst with a sommelier who's just out to make you feel uninformed. Instead, you get a clean page layout with four options to identify your level of java snob-hood from newbie to nerd.

Here's what Trade's coffee matchmaking quiz looks like

The first question out of the gate is about your coffee experience. 

Then it's on to your preferred brewing method, which, depending on how much you care, could dictate the roast level and/or type of bean you want to be buying and why that might matter. And if you're using a pod machine, a support team is ready to chat whether you use a Keurig, Nespresso, or apparently, any other type of pod machine.

Next, you'll select what, if anything, you add to your coffee, because they've decided to factor in even that.

Then it moves on to your preferred roast level. This is a common question, but, like with wine, maybe something we don't all understand. Trade also offers a little explainer about roast levels and how each roasting brand uses its own "scale." Trade scores all coffees on their own scale so that there's no confusion within their service.

The fifth question is about how you prefer your coffee to taste, and this is where it all might get a little tricky because it's so subjective. Just the same, though, don't overthink it; you can always try more. Be bold.

Finally, the last is about how you prefer your coffee beans — ground, whole bean coffee, or both. This is fairly self-explanatory, though Trade makes a point to push grinding your own coffee for the best brew you can get, and we're with them. If we can offer a single piece of conjecture to you, dear reader, let it be this: If you're going to invest in good coffee, grind it yourself or you are missing the point of luxuriating in this splurge altogether. And if you're looking for a good place to start, we'd recommend any from our buying guide. 

Review of Trade Coffee Co.

Some of us on the team tested Trade's coffee, others tried equipment. Below is a short roundup of what each of us tested along with our findings and tasting notes.

Petunias Espresso by Revelator Coffee Co.

I went for the "surprising and unconventional" choice because you only live once, as they say. I'm rarely able to place undertones within things like coffee, wine, or beer. "Enjoyable" and "not enjoyable" are my usual descriptors, and to each our own, I always believe, but this was something I could savor, and did I ever.

A bitter, velvety dark chocolate tone was punctuated by hints of red stonefruit (cherry, I suppose) as vividly as any beverage ever delivered flavor to my palate. Okay, maybe it wasn't all that distinct (at least not for me), but it was different, and each and every morning, while the bag lasted, the thought of that thick crema greeting my tongue was enough for me to peel off the sheets and (almost) make it to work on time. Now that's something.

I'd be happy to wake with this sensation every morning for the rest of my life, and therein am seriously considering one of these subscriptions for myself. My benevolent overlords might appreciate this motion, too, should it continue to deliver me to work on time. — Owen Burke, senior reporter

Leftist Espresso by Gimme!

I rarely go a day without coffee but typically settle for the brew in our office. The Gimme! Leftist Espresso was a nice change to my routine and provided a strong and sweet batch of coffee. I received the whole bean bag and decided to grind it into medium grounds to use with my French press.

Since it's a light-medium roast, it was smooth and had a higher level of caffeine — meaning that I only had to have one cup to get through my morning to-do list. The actual coffee was a treat, plus I felt like it was made especially for me after using the "Get Matched" quiz on the Trade website. — Megan Foster, former editorial fellow

Cold Brew Coffee Bags by Trade Coffee Co.

Typically, I use this cheap, utility-first plastic cold brew bottle to make a quart of cold brew at home, so I decided to try this on-the-go option. One reusable Trade Cold Brew Bag can make up to five batches per 12-ounce bag of coffee (and $7.50 gets you 20 bags).

Pretty much all you need is the Trade cold brew bag, some coffee, and a glass on hand (the company notes that mason jars work well, and I'd agree). You'll still have to wait 12 to 18 hours for your cold brew, but it's easy, mobile, and the bags are made from corn-based fiber and blessedly compostable. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter

French Press by Yama

I used this French press for a few months before it sold out and was discontinued, but it's available on Trade for $36. 

I really enjoyed the French press, but I figure I should get this out of the way now: It's really only made for one or two cups of coffee, so if you're looking for a family-sized carafe, this is not it. 

If a small French press is what you're looking for, this one is solid, though not perfect. The superfine mesh filter does a great job of straining grounds, provided you have the top mechanism properly nestled on before you press the plunger down. But the grounds can get caught between the mesh and the metal pieces that hold it into place, making it hard to clean.

That said, there are a few other pros and cons. The base is rubberized, so it's hard to spill. Big pro in my house. But there are plastic parts to the press, which I don't love (though they are BPA-free). The metal handle and base come off in one piece for easy cleaning, another pro.  

Overall, I really like this French press. Is it the absolute best one you can buy? Probably not. Will it work and be relatively easy to clean and take care of? Absolutely. — Sally Kaplan, senior editor

The bottom line

If you're already spending $10 to $15 on a 12-ounce bag of coffee and you want to learn how to pull a better shot of espresso, make cold brew, or just learn a bit (or a lot) more about making coffee in general, then Trade Coffee might be for you. Coffee subscription services like this one are either for snobs and snobs-to-be or academics. 

But if you don't reeeaaally love coffee and coffee is just a utilitarian pick-me-up, then stick with what you've got. Whether it's the cheap pre-ground stuff off the shelf at a grocery store or the award-winning $17-a-bag, Fair-Trade-certified, all-organic beans from Trade, Atlas, or Driftaway, so be it —  we're just trying to help you keep doing you.

Subscribe to Trade Coffee Co. or explore single matches, starting at $12.50 per 12-ounce bag 

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected]

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