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[Photos: Liz Clayton]
One of coffee's finest simple pleasures is the act of having someone make you a cup of it. Though Craft Coffee—a New York startup offering subscriptions of specialty microroasted coffee delivered to your home, won't actually come over and brew it for you—what they're doing is almost as good.
With bajillions of artisanal coffee roasters firing up the gas each day, only the most obsessive coffee travelers get the chance to taste even a fraction of what different roasters are doing. Entrepreneur Michael Horn, who first slipped down the coffee rabbit hole while attending college in Ithaca—the home of Gimme! coffee roasters—is jumping on the boom in microroasting, and repackaging the fruits of the fruit-laborers to help introduce people to new roasters, and in some cases, to good coffee in general. Horn positions his curated boxes, which are selected monthly from roasters nationwide and mailed out to subscribers in a carefully coordinated acrobatic balance of bagging and shipping to preserve freshness, as vessels for education.
"We discovered that [what] most coffee drinkers wanted was more guidance and convenience in engaging with coffee," said Horn, whose hope is that easier access to conscientiously sourced, artfully roasted coffee will begin and continue to elevate coffee, and how it is considered, to the status of beverages like wine.
In our Craft shipment were three four-ounce minibags of coffees from geographies as diverse as Portland (Water Avenue Coffee), Ithaca (Gimme!) and Grand Rapids (MadCap)—selected, Horn says, from the relentless stream of samples they receive and cup "blind" (i.e., in unlabeled bags to avoid any bias or trend-hopping). The company takes a super-active role in their redeployment of the coffees, offering their own tasting notes from the labs. (MadCap's Las Aguas Altas coffee from Guatemala, for example is said to have a "red grape acidity with a peanut-buttery sweetness".)
We particularly loved Gimme!'s plumply flavored Linda Vista from Honduras, but the tasting experience (and indeed, the sizes rather nicely force the feeling of a considered tasting, rather than a pure caffeine-guzzling experience) itself was the best part of the box. Though the price point may seem high for the quantity—Craft's $19.99 a month for 12 ounces of coffee makes the beans feel prized indeed—it's the opportunity you're really buying: a chance to really compare and think differently about what's being done out there in coffee, and fly around the world from the comfort of your own kettle.
Craft Coffee offers 12, 6 and 3 month subscriptions (or gift subscriptions) to seasonally rotating coffees via their website at craftcoffee.com.
About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs, and writes about coffee and tea all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is bad at keeping up her coffee-world blog at twitchy.org