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We tried 3 coffee subscriptions – Pact, Grind and Kiss the Hippo. From super fresh roasts to millennial pink boxes, here’s what to expect.

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  • Subscriptions tested by insiders in London by Pact, Grind and Kiss the hippopotamus coffee brands.
  • The market is growing rapidly. The director of Grind said about 75% of his followers joined him this year.
  • Every brand Insider tried was refreshing – because of its marketing, as well as its taste.

During lockdown last year, Martin Gausby, a Danish developer living in London, subscribed to a cafe delivery service and discovered that the arrival of the bean became a weekly highlight.

“I get my Coffee of Square Mile Coffee, a business founded by James Hoffman right here in London, ”Gausby said a few days ago. “He has a YouTube channel on all kinds of coffee related stuff, and I like that, so I like to support him by having a subscription to his coffee.”

Over the past few weeks, Insider has been testing a few coffee subscription services in London to see how they work. Our picks were Pact, Kiss the Hippo, and Grind.

Two days, three cans of coffee

The first two packages – Kiss the Hippo and Grind – arrived three days after placing the orders. Delivery of the Covenant arrived the following afternoon.

The boxes of Pact and Kiss the Hippo were thin enough to fit through the letter slot. The first shipment of Grind came with a tin box, so it was a bit thicker, but the company said the following packages are letterbox compatible.

Deliveries from Pact, Grind, Kiss the Hippo.

Kevin Shalvey / Insider

Many friendly emails arrived over the next few days. Every business wanted feedback on the coffee.

Of the three companies, Kiss the Hippo sent the most emails. “Pay attention to the postman,” said a subject line when the coffee was shipped. The next day, before the coffee arrived, another email said, “Do you have everything you need? with a range of coffee brewing products for sale. When the coffee arrived the next day, an email said, “Something great is here! “

We tried 3 coffee subscriptions - Pact, Grind and Kiss the Hippo.  From super fresh roasts to millennial pink boxes, here's what to expect.
Grind the coffee beans.

Kevin Shalvey / Insider

In the month following our order, over a dozen chatty emails from Kiss the Hippo arrived, against a few each of the other brands. Insider has contacted the company for comment.

The pact promises “rare” coffees

Each of the three roasters had similar ordering routines. Their websites looked like flowcharts, with each answer leading to another. Pact had the most questions.

We tried 3 coffee subscriptions - Pact, Grind and Kiss the Hippo.  From super fresh roasts to millennial pink boxes, here's what to expect.
Pact in purple packaging. “Micro-lot is very focused on the coffee veteran with rare coffees that we have purchased, often in some of the more remote places, but where the conditions and terrain are ideal for growing the best coffee beans,” said CEO Paul Turton.

Kevin Shalvey / Insider

Pact first asked for a choice between regular or decaffeinated. Then asked how the coffee would be brewed – Aeropress, Chemex, espresso machine, etc. After choosing the Hario V60, a pourer, the site asked if the order would be whole grain or medium grind. Whole seed for us.

And the last step was to choose your coffee from three options for 250 gram bags. A £ 6.95 house blend, a £ 7.95 Select roast or a £ 9.95 Micro-lot, which were said to be “rare, high-scoring coffees.”

Our La Pederogosa “Micro-lot” beans were grown in Colombia by Mauricio Vega. The packaging indicated that they had been roasted on the day of the order and packed the next day in London by Emily, whose last name was not given.

Last year, Café du Pacte CEO Paul Turton told Insider his subscriber list is growing rapidly amid lockdowns in the UK. Many of those subscribers have stayed, he said a few days ago.

“The ‘covid cohort’ as we call it – or those who joined us after March 2020 have stuck with us despite the easing of restrictions, especially now that everyone has had a chance to fully experience Pact’s proposal on quite a long time, ”he said via email.

Grind is compatible with Instagram

Shoreditch-based Grind had the most eye-catching packaging and the most followers on Instagram. The brand debuted in 2011, making it the oldest of the three.

“We had been quietly working on our home coffee project for about a year when the pandemic forced us to shut down all of our cafes,” Ted Robinson, director of Grind, said a few weeks ago.

Between February and May of last year, orders increased by a multiple of 30, he said. Growth continued, with more than 75% of the company’s subscribers joining in 2021.

The house roast costs £ 13.50 per delivery, but the plan price for each brand was based on how many cups you drink per day. Our first order from Grind included a reusable box in Millennial Pink.

We tried 3 coffee subscriptions - Pact, Grind and Kiss the Hippo.  From super fresh roasts to millennial pink boxes, here's what to expect.
A delivery from Grind Coffee in London. “We’ve had pink for a long, long time, even though it feels like it’s everywhere now. There’s no real story – at one point someone wrote that we made it up. the millennial pink color – but I don’t ‘I don’t think we’d go that far,’ Robinson said.

Kevin Shalvey / Insider

Grind did not specify where the coffee was grown or roasted, but said it was “shipped climate neutral”.

“We have offset the carbon emissions of all our deliveries for almost a year, protecting more than 40,000 trees in the Jari Pará forest conservation project in the Amazon,” the company said on a small card slipped into the box.

Robinson said the company had “helped more than 100,000 people make better, more sustainable coffee at home” during the pandemic. Many of those buyers, he said, have stuck around even as the city reopens.

Kiss the Hippo promotes its farmers

Like Pact, Kiss the Hippo used its packaging to promote the small farms where the beans were grown.

Our slim bag with a little red hippo logo was full of coffee from El Salvador. A label on the back stated that the red beans from Pacamara were grown by the Diaz family.

The family – Jose Efrin, Jose William, Arnulfo and Santos – work in a few farms “close to each other, where they pool their resources and grow up through a collective family bond”.

We tried 3 coffee subscriptions - Pact, Grind and Kiss the Hippo.  From super fresh roasts to millennial pink boxes, here's what to expect.
Kiss the Hippo cafe.

Kevin Shalvey / Insider

The coffee itself is accompanied by tasting notes: acidity at 4/5 and body at 3/5. It was touted as having notes of “elderflower, apricot, lemon”. Our single-origin whole grain option costs £ 12 per delivery.

Three cold beers, all very good

Each of the brands had their own distinct flavors. Kiss the Hippo had a lemon zest, light and airy, as its tasting notes put it. Grind was richer and darker. Pact was somewhere in the middle, balanced and a little earthy. The beans appeared fresher than those at an upscale grocery store in London, in part because they had been roasted over the past few days. They were all very good.

What came out in the end wasn’t the beans, but the marketing – especially how Pact and Kiss the Hippo both promoted local farmers. The messages of the three leaned heavily on domestic, ecological and agrarian messages, even though the farms that grew the beans were on another continent.

“Most of these small farms have been in the family for generations and we are fortunate to share their amazing coffee with the Pact community,” said Turton of Pact.

Did knowing that the Diaz family grew our Kiss the Hippo beans in El Salvador make the coffee taste better? No, probably not. Did this give us anything interesting to think about when we took our first sip of coffee? Yeah, honestly.

We tried 3 coffee subscriptions - Pact, Grind and Kiss the Hippo.  From super fresh roasts to millennial pink boxes, here's what to expect.
Brewing with a Hario V60 ceramic dripper in London.

Kein Shalvey / Insider

The coffee that Danish developer Gausby gets delivered from Square Mile is also fresher than he was used to at the grocery store, he said.

“I will be moving to Denmark at the end of next month,” he said, “but I will strongly consider purchasing a subscription with a local roaster.”

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