Driftaway Coffee Subscription Review 2023
Are you overwhelmed by the number of coffee subscription services available? Does it feel impossible to choose? Well, you could sign up for a bunch of different ones to see which you enjoy most… But who has the budget for that?
I’ll tell you who: Home Grounds.
We ordered a bunch of different coffee subscriptions to bring you first-hand accounts of each experience.
This Driftaway Coffee review will look at everything you can expect from a Driftaway Coffee subscription box, including why you should or shouldn’t choose it over other popular options.
SUMMARY: Driftaway Coffee Subscription
- Subscription starts with a professionally guided coffee tasting kit test to determine your preferences.
- Freshly roasted single-origin specialty coffee or cold brew blends delivered to your door.
- The most impressive sustainability initiatives of any subscription.
Had a little coffee tasting this morning with Driftaway Coffee. Cool way to start the morning and learn a little more about coffee. They have a great business model, support small farms, and the coffee is great.– Customer
The Full Driftaway Coffee Subscription Review
This section will first break down the details of a Driftaway Coffee subscription by category, and we’ll then discuss how they compare with other coffee subscription services. Read the whole thing to get a well-rounded picture of Driftaway, or jump straight to the sections that are most important to you, like coffee quality or sustainability.
Coffee Selection – 3.5/5
Unlike other subscription services that source from various roasters, Driftaway Coffee offers a relatively small selection of coffees. They have five single-origin coffees, each defined by a flavour profile: Fruity, Classic, Balanced, Bold, and Extra Bold. There are also three cold brew coffee blends with flavour profiles for different taste preferences: Bright, Balanced, and Bold. Lastly, there is a single decaf option.
But what they lack in variety, they make up for in their ability to find the perfect coffee for you. It feels like Driftaway Coffee wants you to learn about different coffee flavours and which ones you enjoy. So while you won’t get to choose between hundreds of different coffees, you’re more likely to find something you love.
Except for decaf, each Driftaway Coffee subscription starts with a coffee tasting kit. The Explorer Kit comes with sample-sized bags of five different coffees, one for each taste profile. The coffee can be pre-ground or whole bean. I opted for whole bean coffee, as I have a great burr grinder at home, and they helpfully included a ground coffee sample so I could match the grind size.
The Driftaway experience is full of these sorts of thoughtful inclusions that suggest that coffee lovers are involved.
Upon receiving the first delivery of the coffee tasting kit, you’ll be given a link to sign up for a guided taste test with a coffee professional, which can be done solo or on Zoom. This is the only subscription to offer this service.
Along with the five coffee samples, you’ll receive five cups, a coffee tasting flavour wheel, and a chart for making tasting notes. There is also a sealed box to open after the tasting. It includes information about the coffees you tried, like origin, growing conditions, and flavour notes. It’s exciting to finally open it and see how closely your tasting notes match the pros. As a bonus, it also includes 2 ounces of each of the coffees!
Once you’ve finished with the tasting kit and established the coffee flavour profile that suits your taste buds, you’ll be sent similar coffees for your Driftaway Coffee subscription – or until you decide you feel like a change.
New coffees are released monthly, highlighting different farms, origins, and processing methods. Driftaway Coffee sources coffee from 91 different farms in 26 countries worldwide. So even though you’re getting the same flavour profile each month, you’ll never get bored.
Decaf coffee lovers won’t get as much out of this subscription. Driftaway offers only one decaf option, and while it is delicious, you miss out on the catered experience available to the caffeine fiends.
Coffee Quality – 5/5
The quality of coffee you’ll receive from a Driftaway Coffee subscription box is excellent. This is a real perk of opting for a coffee subscription service with fewer coffees – each one is given proper care and attention right from the farm until it reaches your door.
First of all, great coffee requires great coffee beans, and no amount of roaster skill can compensate for bad sourcing. Dirftaway sources single-origin coffees from many of the world’s best growing regions, but there’s more to it. They work directly with coffee farmers and farming cooperatives in each country.
Through these close relationships with coffee growers and paying well above average prices, Driftaway can buy the best coffee now and ensure its production in the future. Daniele Giovannucci, president of the Committee on Sustainability Assessment, explains the importance of economic stability for a coffee farmer (1).
Without an economic foundation, it is difficult to conceive of thriving farming communities that can be the basis for a diversified and growing industry.
Once the farmers source the best green coffee beans, it’s in the hands of the roaster. Unlike many coffee subscriptions that source from different roasters, Driftaway Coffee does all their roasting in-house, allowing for unparalleled quality control. Their skilled roasters know exactly what roast level best highlights the inherent character of the green coffee beans, which comes only with years of experience.
Driftaway roasts coffee beans twice a week, so you know you’ll constantly be receiving freshly roasted coffee from Driftaway. The roast date is displayed prominently on the package, so you can predict precisely when your coffee will peak, usually between 3 and 14 days after roasting (2). In my case, the coffee arrived just three days after roasting, which is especially impressive given that I’m based in Canada.
Even the decaf is given the same premium treatment as the rest of the coffee beans. The decaf I received was a delightful single-origin medium roast from Colombia, roasted on the same day as the caffeinated brews. A balanced brew with brown sugar and sweet chocolate notes, it’s a far cry from the stale decaf blends that used to be the norm.
Sustainability – 5/5
The Driftaway Coffee tagline is, “Coffee good for you and the planet,” and it is apt. While there are several excellent coffee subscription boxes for coffee drinkers who love quality fresh coffee, Driftaway is the best for those who also care about sustainability. In this case, sustainability doesn’t just refer to the environment and climate change but also the coffee farmers and their communities.
Driftaway has many initiatives promoting sustainability in every sense, starting at the farm and continuing to your door.
The relationship Driftaway Coffee maintains with coffee farmers is the foundation of the entire enterprise. It’s how they get the best coffee and how they keep getting the best coffee. They’ve signed a transparency pledge stating that they will reveal exactly what they pay farmers for their coffee, so you can see how it stacks up against Fair Trade standards (3). When I checked on one of my coffees, I discovered that Driftaway paid nearly three times what a Fair Trade Certification would require!
Their commitment to environmental causes is equally impressive. Notably, their coffee packaging is all 100% compostable (4). Compostable coffee bags are not cheap, and Driftaway is indeed eating into their profits by making this choice. Similarly, the postcards included with each coffee are printed on recycled paper. Even the padding around the glasses in my tasting kit was made from shredded scrap paper rather than styrofoam or bubble wrap.
They also strive to keep their carbon footprint small, which is not easy in a business that relies heavily on shipping. You can find the results of their comprehensive energy audit on their website, another example of the brand’s transparency. To reduce energy use, they avoid air freight and rarely travel to visit coffee farms instead of relying on trusted relationships within origin communities. They also use an energy-efficient Loring roaster. Driftaway Coffee purchases carbon offsets for any emissions produced to achieve complete carbon neutrality.
Finally, there’s their partnership with World Coffee Research (5). This non-profit organization conducts agricultural research to ensure the future of coffee. Driftaway donates 5 cents to World Coffee Research for every pound of coffee sold.
Overall Experience – 4.5/5
When you sign up for a Driftaway Coffee subscription box, you get the sense that they want you to have a coffee-drinking experience. They don’t just want to send you something to drink; they want you to learn, think, and feel while enjoying a delicious morning brew. They want to take you on a coffee journey.
An excellent example of this is the gorgeous postcards that accompany the coffees. The front of each has a photo taken at origin, so you can see the land and the people that produced your coffee. There are also basic details and flavour notes. The back is jam-packed with incredibly detailed origin notes, including the growing region, altitude, processing type, and bean varietals. It also offers notes on the coffee producers, commentary from the roaster, and other interesting facts. There is even a link that allows you to reach out to the coffee producer directly!
Becoming part of the Driftaway community
Another example is the virtual coffee tasting program, which is unique to Driftaway Coffee. As I already mentioned, new coffee subscriptions start with a blind tasting. But you can also order a tasting kit to experience with friends, family, or co-workers anytime. It’s an ideal way to introduce friends to your love of coffee or bond with your colleagues.
These private sessions are conducted over Zoom and led by 2013 World Brewer’s Champion James McCarthy (6). Because the tastings are private, you can cater them to your area of interest. Curious about processing methods and how they affect flavour? Want to know more about roast levels and flavour profiles? Just ask! James is chock full of coffee knowledge.
There are also weekly tastings on Zoom that are free to all subscribers. If you want to hear how a coffee connoisseur experiences your latest coffee delivery, then be sure to pop in to have your questions answered.
If you enjoy the blind tasting kit experience, Angel’s Cup is a coffee subscription service that sends you different unknown coffees to taste each month. But unlike Driftaway Coffee, they don’t offer personalized professional guidance via Zoom. To learn more, read our Angel’s Cup Coffee Subscription review.
Price – 4/5
Driftaway Coffee isn’t the cheapest coffee subscription box on the market, but they aren’t targeting a client base looking simply for low costs.
Driftaway is catering to the coffee lover willing to pay a little more for premium coffee and to know that everyone in the coffee production chain is being treated equitably, including the environment.
And while not the cheapest, the Driftaway Coffee prices are very reasonable – comparable to the cost of any high-end specialty coffee.
When signing up for a subscription, you can choose how much coffee you want to receive. There are four different shipment sizes (8 ounces, 12 ounces, 1 pound, or 2 pounds) and three shipping frequencies (every week, every two weeks, or every four weeks). The price per shipment ranges from US$17.40 to US$39.20, and it’s effortless to adjust your size and delivery frequency if you are receiving too much or too little coffee. You can also buy 12-ounce bags of each month’s featured coffees for US$19.
If you sign up for a 6-month subscription, you’ll get 5% off, and a year-long subscription nets you 10% off. All subscription prices include free first class shipping to Canada.
Don’t Choose a Driftaway Coffee Subscription Box if…
- You want to explore different roasters: If you’re looking for a subscription that offers a larger selection and lets you explore different roasters, consider Trade. They source from dozens of small, independent roasters around the U.S.A, and like Driftaway, they will cater your subscription to your taste. Read more in our Trade Coffee Subscription review.
- You prefer blends to single origins: Driftaway Coffee specializes in specialty single-origin coffee. If you’re more of an espresso blend fan regarding your morning coffee, then you’ll want to look elsewhere – for example, Mistobox. Mistobox partners with 60 different roasters to offer upwards of 600 coffees, and you can tailor your subscription to only blends, espresso-focused coffees, or even roast levels.
- You don’t want a catered experience: If you prefer not to have any say in what coffee you receive, check out our Atlas Coffee Club review. Each month, Atlas features a single-origin coffee from a different country. Because it’s not tailored to your established taste, you might discover a great coffee you never expected to like. And don’t worry, no matter what you get, it’s always top-quality coffee.
Driftaway Coffee subscription box is perfect for the coffee drink to whom coffee is more than just a drink. Many subscriptions will send you excellent freshly roasted coffee, this one included. But Driftaway Coffee stands out from the crowd in that they want you to learn about coffee – how it tastes, how it’s grown, and the people and communities that make it possible.
- Boydell, H. (2018, November 15). Sustainability in Coffee: What Are the Main Issues? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/11/sustainability-in-coffee-what-are-the-main-issues/
- Square Mile Coffee Roasters. (2020, June 25). Rest is Best. Retrieved from https://squaremileblog.com/2020/06/25/rest-is-best/
- Cadwalader, Z. (2019, July 8). Bringing Transparency to Coffee Transparency With “The Pledge.” Retrieved from https://sprudge.com/bringing-transparency-to-coffee-transparency-with-the-pledge-146255.html
- Fornero, L. (2020, September 2). How Sustainable is Your Coffee Packaging? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/09/how-sustainable-is-your-coffee-packaging-mtpak/
- World Coffee Research. (2022). Ensuring the future of coffee. Retrieved from https://worldcoffeeresearch.org/
- Brown, N. (2020, November 18). World Coffee Champ Leads Driftaway Coffee’s Private Virtual Tasting Parties. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2020/11/18/world-coffee-champ-leads-driftaway-coffees-private-virtual-tasting-parties/