Angels' Cup Coffee Subscription Box Review
One of the joys of becoming a coffee aficionado comes from exploring new roasts and seeing if they meet your expectations.
For those of us who like the idea of sampling different coffee on a regular basis, it can be tough to keep finding new, quality beans that are worth trying. That's why a great coffee subscription box like Angels' Cup can be a gold mine.
This company takes an approach that does more than just deliver fresh, curated coffee. They focus on the tasting process, offering samples that you can try out blindly and review with a detailed app. They just might be the coffee box you've been waiting for, so read on to find out.
Buying from Angels' Cup
The buying process with Angels' Cup is relatively straightforward, providing options while not overwhelming you with choices.
Choose Your Box
First, you'll choose what type of subscription you want.
Gift or Personal?
If you're shopping for yourself, of course, choose personal. If your aren't the coffee lover, though, or if you want to introduce someone to the world of Third Wave Coffee, you can send a gift subscription.
This will be a monthly shipment, and you can choose to supply your loved one (and you really do love them if you're sending them coffee) with a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription.
Choose Your Grind and Frequency
Grind selection is straightforward. Hopefully, you are grinding at home, so you can choose whole bean. If that isn't an option, though, Angels' Cup still has you taken care of even if there aren't a ton of grind choices.
Your grind options are:
Then you can choose how frequently you want your shipments. For a personal subscription, you choose:
If this is a gift subscription, this is where you'll choose how many months the subscription is for. Otherwise, your personal subscription will continue each month until you cancel it (no contracts to worry about).
Choose Your Roast
Then you have to choose your roast preference. Here, again, you have the standard choices available:
Note that if you choose medium or dark, you will not be able to receive the shipments as often. For medium, you can stick with bi-weekly or monthly. For dark roasts, monthly is the only choice.
Most likely, Angels' Cup has a wider selection of light roasts, which is why they can send them more regularly. Of course, you can always change your preferences if you need.
Then you're on to check out. For customers in the United States, standard shipping is free. Canadian subscribers have a $6 charge.
On the next page, you'll need to create an account, enter address, and choose your shipping preference. There is a priority option for an extra few dollars if you just can't wait to get to the tasting.
Once you've ordered, you'll receive all the standard confirmation emails, and when your box ships, you'll get a tracking number that you can check obsessively while you wait for your coffee box to arrive.
Unboxing Angels' Cup (The Black Box)
I was able to try out the Black Box subscription, which included the larger samples (78g). I found that to be a great size for doing some side-by-side tastings and for sharing some of my favorite roasts with guests.
The elegant black box was a pleasant surprise coming in the mail. The light blue and white accents really present a clean, refined look that promises a treat inside.
The box is also easy to open and close again to keep in all the goodies between brewing. The "eject" label on the spot where you open is a nice touch too.
Inside, you'll find that black-gold goodness you've been waiting for. Don't expect flashy labels and fancy names, though. They point here is that all the samples look the same.
Accordingly, each black pouch has a simple roast number and a roasted on date. That last point is nice to ensure freshness, and I was pleased to get the coffee within a week of roasting.
You should also find four information cards and a guide explaining the Angels' Cup process. The cards are boldly colored and contrast nicely with the otherwise black interior.
Don't flip those cards over!
On one side, they just have roast numbers that correspond with your samples. On the other side, though, they contain information about the coffee's origin, processing, and tasting notes. If you want a truly blind taste test, you don't want that information to influence your experience.
So stamp down your curiosity for a bit longer and keep the roast number side up.
Tasting Angels' Cup Coffee
I received a selection of light roast beans, and I was excited to get to brewing. First, I downloaded the free app (more on that later), then I chose a pouch at random to test first.
I later did some comparison with each roast, which is possible if you spring for the larger sample size.
The coffee was all in great shape. I didn't see any deformities or issues with the roast or any damaged beans. They all fell in the cinnamon to city range, and they smelled great.
This is no surprise since they were so fresh. Three out of the four samples were roasted on the same day, just six days before delivery. And the fourth sample was actually roasted more recently, so I was pleased with how fresh they all looked.
One of the benefits of the Black Box experience is that you can run a true blind test and sample the coffees side-by-side or one after the other.
To keep uniformity, I tried every roast with a pour over brew (a Kalita Wave 185). The Handground Precision grinder worked well for a relatively quick grind, and I used an electric Bonavita Kettle to heat the water and keep it consistent.
I was pleased with all the roasts. They went through the grinder without any issues and performed well in the pour over filter. Waiting for the bloom provided a great opportunity to take in their different aromas, which is a part of the expert tasting section in the app (again, more on that later).
As you would expect from a hand-curated selection of coffee, these roasts provided complexity and variety. There was a nice mix of fruity, sweet roasts with some richer, earthier flavors as well.
My favorite from this sample was an Ethiopian bean roasted by Cafe Grumpy. I found it compelling immediately after opening the pouch because the aroma of berries was so strong. It was almost like opening a package of blueberries.
It was maybe even a little too sweet for a morning coffee, but I found it to be a bold option, and it stood out more than the others. (I later tried it as an iced coffee that really stood up well.)
In the end, I found something noteworthy in each roast. I might not buy a pound of each kind, but the sample size was perfect for a little adventure.
Once you've tried the coffee, you can take a look at the back of its roast card. That will give you details about the origin, roaster, and tasting notes even if you don't use the app.
Using the Angels' Cup App
As promised, here's an overview of one of the most interesting parts of the Angels' Cup experience. They have a free app (both iOS and Android) that can help guide your tasting and record notes for the future. You don't even have to be a subscriber to use it.
Choose Your Roasts
To begin a new tasting, you can search for the roast number listed on your coffee pouch. If you're testing more than one roast at a time, you can enter them all here.
Choose Your Tasting Level
Next, choose your experience level.
Record Your Brew Method
Speaking of brew method, that's what comes next. If you're recording an Angels' Cup roast, you'll actually get a recommended brew method from the roast master.
If you have the setup to match the recommendation, I say go for it. If not, you can try to mimic it as closely as possible or just stick with your favorite brewing options.
In the app you can record:
One handy feature is that the app will automatically calculate your water to coffee ratio from the numbers you enter. This should give you a good sense of whether or not you're keeping your brew ratio consistent.
There is also a results grid that helps you plot your results. You choose whether it was weak, balanced, or strong, and whether it was sour, sweet, or bitter.
I really like the ability to record the brew method because it allows you to experiment with your coffee without forgetting results or wondering if you adjusted just one factor like temperature or grind size the last time.
Fine-tuning your process is what makes manual brewing so much fun, and an app like this is a great resource. (Did I mention that it's free?)
Rate Your Experience
Once you've recorded how you brewed the coffee, you'll take note of what you thought about it. The beginner tasting covers the following areas:
If you choose the advanced option, you'll get 8 factors to rate instead of 4, and it's an excellent choice for seasoned coffee tasters.
After the charts, you can record any extra notes. This is a good chance to jot down whether a particular flavor stood out more than the others or what you thought about the roast overall. It's a great place to wax poetic about a brew that really spoke to you.
After you've recorded your results, you get to immediately compare them with others.
You can look to see if your roast profile matches the roast master's and find out if you picked up on the same flavors and aromas that they did. You'll also typically see a thorough description of the roast from the people who actually made it happen.
In addition to the roast master's evaluation, you can also see what the rest of the Angels' Cup community had to say about the roast. Discover other flavors you might have missed or see if you described the same notes as other coffee lovers.
Review Previous Tastings
After you're done comparing results, your tasting will stay around so that you can check it out later. By reviewing previous tastings, you can look at your notes to determine what brew methods and roasts you prefer.
You can also order full bags of a particular roast if it's available. Although, you'll be send outside the app to complete that transaction.
What Sets Angels' Cup Apart
With many coffee subscription boxes, the best angle they have is, "We'll send you good coffee." Granted, sometimes that is enough. If you want something truly different, though, an Angels' Cup subscription has a lot to offer.
The Blind Taste Test
With this subscription, the focus remains on the tasting experience. By giving you the opportunity to taste various roasts without any information, Angels' Cup helps you hone your coffee palette.
Over time, you will appreciate even more the complex flavors that great, fresh coffee brings to the table. And you'll do it without the help of roasters' notes that guide your tasting experience.
Much of this is possible because of the amazing Angels' Cup app. It isn't that hard to ship some unlabeled pouches of coffee out. But to pair that with a sophisticated tasting app is remarkable.
My favorite part of the app is that it provides a record for your coffee journey. It's a resource that you can use over and over to help craft your technique and expand your tastes.
Focus on the Experience
Yes, Angels' Cup souces great coffee. And you can taste up to 208 of them throughout the course of a year. It's really the experience, though, that puts them in their own category.
The blind taste test and the app create a genuinely exciting experience, one that you will want to come back to and share with your friends.
In the end, the Angels' Cup subscription box was delightful. It's a great option for seasoned coffee drinkers and for those just getting into the nuances of gourmet coffee.
On top of all that, it's an affordable way to keep new coffee coming through the door each month. At a minimum, I would recommend trying it out for a month to do just one blind tasting. But I can't promise that you won't get hooked.