I have been curious about coffee subscription boxes for a while. My point of hesitation for buying a subscription box has been that I like to pick beans myself, usually ones that stand out to me in some way. For instance, I recently bought a coffee from Full Court Press that went through extended fermentation.
Subscription boxes do appeal to me. I like the idea of random roasters turning up on my doorstep for me to try. There are so many special coffees available on the market that are worth tasting but I only keep a short list of roasters whose websites I regularly check for new products and beans. I started speaking with the Dog and Hat team about their subscription box, and graciously, the Dog and Hat team sent over a two-coffee box for me to review.
The Dog and Hat Project
Dog and Hat, run by the Morgan family in England, is a speciality coffee subscription service. The founders of Dog and Hat take pride in curating high-quality coffees, evaluating many coffees to determine those that meet their strict quality standards. To evaluate coffees, they use methods derived from the Speciality Coffee Association. This means that the coffees I receive should meet a certain quality standard as opposed to a marketing allure.
Dog and Hat are big on environmental sustainability, offering all customers the option to send their used coffee bags back for recycling. Unfortunately, a lot of coffee bags are not entirely recyclable in their current form, although I am seeing a few roasters going the extra mile to offer fully-recyclable packaging. Dog and Hat send the bags to a company called Terraform who can recycle the coffee bags in their subscription.
Their environmental practices are reinforced by the packaging in which the coffee comes: a cardboard box, some tissue paper, a paper information booklet, and the coffees themselves. This packaging is minimal but enough.
Unboxing the Dog and Hat subscription box, I was greeted with some red tissue paper and a booklet. The booklet, called "Dialled In," provides some information about each of the roasters who are featured in the box. Below the leaflet there were two bags of coffee. One bag was from Redemption Roasters and the other was from Neighbourhood Coffee Roasters, both based in the United Kingdom. 
The information booklet was a quick read, taking no more than fifteen minutes, and gave me some good background into both the roasters themselves and the coffees included in the subscription box. Starting with the roasters, a brief summary was provided featuring their roasting philosophies. Later, the booklet features short interviews with each roaster. While these interviews are limited in scope, I enjoyed the enthusiasm of each of the participants, as well as the section on the inspiration that encouraged each founder to start a coffee roastery.
The booklet also features recipe information for both Aeropress and espresso. Personally, these recipes are not useful because I have already dialled in my filter grind. Also, I am presently brewing with a pour-over device. With that said, if you are just getting started with speciality coffee—or are struggling to make the most of your coffees—then I can see this information coming in handy.
Lastly, the booklet includes some information about each roaster, featuring the general processing method, altitude, etc. information, as well as a more detailed description of each coffee and its origin.
My box came with two coffees:
- Altos de Saragullas (Espresso) by Redemption Roasters
- San Jose de Lourdes, Cajamarca by Neighbourhood Coffee Roasters
Altos de Saragullas is a blend of coffees from smallholder producers in Ecuador. This means coffee cherries from various farms were mixed together to produce this coffee. Despite this coffee not being traceable to a single farm, it yields a delicious cup. I got tasting notes of cherry and a hint of lemon with this coffee. Altos de Saragullas is sweet with a balanced acidity and has a lingering, cherry finish.
If I were to be looking for coffees, this is probably not one I would have chosen. I have had a lot of cherry coffees. But, I'm glad this coffee did arrive. It is smooth and easy to drink. This speaks to one of the big benefits of a mixed-coffee subscription box like Dog and Hat. You do not know what you are going to get and so you should expect surprises.
The second coffee I tried, San Jose de Lourdes, reminded me of blackcurrant juice. The coffee had a syrupy body, a prominent blackcurrant taste, alongside hints of toffee. The coffee was somewhat acidic and sweet which balanced well with the blackcurrant flavour.
I am left with a lingering fruity finish after drinking this coffee. This is more like a coffee I would have chosen for its "blackberry, sticky toffee" tasting notes. Although, I would probably never have discovered Neighbourhood Coffee Roasters, who roasted this coffee, if it were not for the subscription box.
I enjoyed tasting the two coffees from the Dog and Hat subscription box. While I do prefer to buy coffees individually, this box opened my eyes to two new roasters and encouraged me to try coffees I would otherwise not have tried. For someone who enjoys trying new speciality coffees, subscribing to a multi-roaster subscription box may be a good decision, even if you only purchase one box as a taster.
I like how the Dog and Hat box comes with everything you need to learn about the coffees you receive, from interviews with the roasters to some background information on each coffee. The fact the box and all of its contents is recyclable is notable. Dog and Hat will even recycle your coffee bags.
You can read more about Dog and Hat on their website at dogandhat.co.uk.
This subscription box was gifted by Dog and Hat. This, thus, presents an inherent bias in my review perspective. I have written this review from my personal perspective, with the feeling that I am not recommending this product rather sharing my thoughts and experiences.
: Dog and Hat do have an international subscription, featuring roasters from other countries. They also have a decaf subscription service for those who do prefer decaffeinated coffee.
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