Running a Coffee Subscription Business: A 5-Step Guide

What could be possibly better than running a coffee subscription business? Perhaps…having a coffee subscription business run for you!


Working at home wasn’t an option when the pandemic hit; it was necessary.

People were used to waking up early, catching a cup of coffee on their way to work, and filling their office mugs multiple times during the day. And then, well, everything changed.

If you’re a coffee-lover, you’ve probably heard of Driftaway Coffee. Run by Anu and Suyog, Driftaway Coffee started the coffee subscription business in 2012. Despite doubling its sales every year, Suyog highlights March 2020 as their growth curve. Thousands of new subscribers signed up, and more than 15% of previous customers increased the size or frequency of their orders. The pandemic has ever since created a new attitude and a new method of coffee drinking that remained.

According to Bluecart, today, 79% of Americans drink their coffee at home. Drinking coffee has become a routine, a lifestyle. It’s highly demanded and never off-trend.


Are you selling coffee? Ever considered selling subscriptions?

We believe you’re ready to sell not only a product, but an experience; a routine, and a lifestyle.

And today, Subify is here to help you have a subscription business that runs itself!


How Can a Coffee Subscription Business Benefit You?

Subscription plans for coffee were rapidly adopted by consumers as they sought to relive the cafe experience at home, during the pandemic. In fact, over the past five years (2017-2021), the market for coffee subscriptions has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 11.5%.

There are several advantages to joining a coffee subscription business, both for the seller and for the consumer. Personalized coffee subscription plans provide subscribers with a convenient experience, while also giving shop owners flexibility to sell directly to the customers.

Using bulk roasting instead of per-unit roasting will reduce your roasting costs if you are a roaster, and if you’re a provider it also guarantees upcoming purchases that will deal with the risk of having stock left on shelves. Subscribers, on the other hand, receive discounts and rewards for becoming loyal customers. Not to mention that besides being fresher, the coffee could usually reach them within a few days of roasting!


A Coffee Subscription Business: 5 Steps To Launch

Coffee subscription businesses are open to anyone, whether they are roasters, distributors, retailers, or individual entrepreneurs. However, in terms of your coffee subscription program, the way in which your weekly/monthly/yearly boxes are organized is most important.

It is important to consider both your strengths and weaknesses and at this point, you’re probably asking yourself a number of questions. The good news is, we’re gonna be giving you all the answers you need:


1. Which types of supplements do you want to sell?

There are many consumers who can't help but be enthusiastic about coffee, not only because they like to consume it, but also because they enjoy its concept, history, and origin. A single-origin subscription, for instance, is one option. Bags can be sourced from specific growing regions and emphasize the culture and geography related to each one.

There is also the option of blend subscriptions. Every blend can include a list of tasting notes and is precisely mixed to reach the right flavor. People who are more interested in the flavor than the background of the coffee tend to enjoy this style of subscription.

The reasons we use single-origin and taste as examples of a coffee subscription business are that these factors are important to coffee drinkers today, according to national coffee data. However, there are many different types of coffee and subscription themes to choose from.


Depending on the subscription, the focus can be on:

  • Coffee beans (like Arabica)

  • Coffee drinks (Like Americano)

  • Iced coffee (Like cold brew)

  • Coffee makers (Like French press)


Remember Driftaway Coffee? In order to put the right subscribers in touch with the right product types, they have chosen a creative approach. You receive a tasting kit when you subscribe to Driftaway, which features four different types of coffee. After rating the fruity, classic, balanced, and bold flavors online, Driftaway will customize your future packaging for you. Fun, isn’t it?


2. How About Grinding the Coffee?

Have you considered grinding your coffee? Or do you prefer to leave that part to the customers?


  • For those without a grinder, ground coffee is more convenient. However, even the nicely sealed, ground coffee only lasts about a week or two at its optimal quality.


  • Whole beans are a better choice if shipping takes more than a few days or if you're a serious coffee enthusiast who grinds his or her own beans. As a store owner, if you have quick shipping or if the majority of your customers aren't crazy about drinking coffee that has been really freshly roasted, ground coffee should be fine for you.


However, in an ideally-shaped coffee subscription business, customers should be able to choose from both types of subscriptions.

Both ground and beans are suitable for a coffee subscription business
Both Ground and Beans Can Be Included in Coffee Subscriptions

3. What Is the Best Size for Coffee Bags?

Now it’s time to ask the important questions: 12-ounce bags or 16-ounce ones?

First, look at ounces from another perspective: imagine them as cups. A bag of 8 ounces has about 41 cups of coffee, a bag of 12 ounces has 62 cups, and a bag of 16 ounces has 82 cups. Take a moment to think about the items you're currently sending to your customers (most likely, they’re gonna be your first subscribers). Are 16-ounce bags of ground coffee a good choice for your casual coffee drinkers? Not likely. However, a 16-ounce bag of whole beans may be just what your typical customer needs if, for example, they drink five or more cups of coffee every day. You can even run online surveys on your store or social media accounts before making the decision.


4. Are You Ready for Packaging?

You will have a lasting impression on your customer through the packaging of your coffee subscription business. Your boxes and measurements, design, and printing methods must be just right to delight your subscribers.

You can attract new customers and retain existing ones with a great packaging design that helps you raise brand awareness.

However, a coffee package that works effectively does more than simply attract customers. To ensure your coffee stays fresh and of good quality for as long as possible, it should be protected on its journey from the roasting warehouse to the customer's hand.


  • Based on your coffee type and size, check the different package shapes and choose the best (e.g. side-folds, qual-seals, stand-ups, flat-bottoms, etc.)

  • Establish a logo and color scheme that is consistent with your coffee subscription business. Choose colors and printing that match your brand's personality; for instance, dark colors will make a shipping box appear elegant, whereas lighter colors will give the box a more spirited appearance. (You may also want to speak with Subify's Customer Success Specialists about these choices; they can provide a lot of useful information or suggestions.)

  • Once your beans are roasted, they undergo chemical and physical changes that must be taken into account when packaging them. Choosing the right material for your packaging can help a lot with getting your product to the subscribers, as fresh as possible.

Make sure to consider environmental factors as well. Driftaway Coffee, for instance, is using 100% compostable packaging. Every single component of the Driftaway package you receive can become soil through composting.


5. What Is Your Ideal Delivery Frequency?

Monthly coffee subscription plans are the most common type of subscription operation, and we believe they can be a great starting place for you. A proven delivery system and flowing subscriptions will allow you to add weekly/biweekly options after a few months too.

Give your customers options that you can be faithful to, within the limits of your shipping and inventory management, and remember that, Subify will always allow you to update/remove/add a delivery frequency to your pre-existing subscription products.


Ensure your coffee subscription business with an efficient delivery system
A Reliable Delivery Service Will Ensure Your Product Reaches Your Subscribers Safely

Long Story Short!

You don't need a lot of experience or knowledge to start a coffee subscription business. Especially if you’re already working in the coffee industry. A subscription model can help almost any store, but not every product works well with a monthly delivery service. So why not make the most of this opportunity?


Once you've decided what you want to offer, and how you'll deliver it, it's time to build the store. Choosing the right Shopify subscription app will help you get even closer to your goals.

It will automate your orders and billings for you and will give a professional look to your brand; a business that runs itself!

Anu Menon & Suyog Mody launched Driftaway Coffee with a team of two. Subify, on the other hand, has a big team of people that will help you get your magical drink to as many customers as possible.

So…what do you think? Your new coworkers are just a click away!



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