Curated Brew Coffee Subscription – Reader Offer

10 May 2017
Curated T and J

So what type of coffee subscription service do people want? Curated Brew is the brainchild of former Imperial College computing graduate Ian Kissick. His vision was to create a monthly subscription service offering the world’s best coffees delivered to your door, utilising ‘machine learning’ understand and develop customer coffee preferences.


Curated Brew launched in March and having featured Assembly Roasters and Oslo’s Talor & Jørgen, they are currently featuring Swedish Roasters Koppi from Helsingborg. Berlin’s Five Elephant have been confirmed as June’s offer. These are roasters whose coffees you will seriously want to have in your cupboard.


May’s offering of coffee from Koppi will be available to customers signing up before 15th May. The great news is that Curated Brew have created a special discount code for our readers – LBC15 – which will give 15% off their first month’s membership with the coffee subscription service. You can read Ian’s interview with Anne Lunell of Koppi here.


Machine Learning


Ian Kissick studied artificial intelligence and machine learning at University before being employed by a large European investment bank where he continued his specialism.  Machine learning involves teaching computers certain behaviours or categorisation using large data sets.


Ian told us, “I believe that speciality coffee will greatly benefit from technology, and that a paradigm shift is on the horizon. In particular, I believe that the way in which consumers approach coffee will be radically changed as savvy app developers and product designers build systems and tools which will greatly reduce the coffee learning curve.”


When Curated Brew looked at other coffee subscription services, they noticed that generally a few simple generic questions were asked to help guide what to send to subscribers. As Curated Brew scale up, they aim to build something far more sophisticated. They are building up their membership base until it is large enough to facilitate multiple coffee offerings each month. Large member numbers also mean they build statistical models which inform their choice of coffee. This means that as they scale up, they actually become more personal rather than less, using their members’ preferences and feedback to deliver coffee to them that they know they'll love.


Ian illustrates this, “Lots of roasters have built quizzes for their users to ascertain which origins/flavour profiles they're most likely to enjoy, but Curated Brew's machine learning recommendation system will go way beyond that.”

“The best thing about it? As more and more people join Curated Brew, and as we gather more and more data, we will, in effect, train the system, making it more and more accurate.



Choosing Roasters


Back in January, Ian made a list of great European roasters who he wanted to work with. He outlined his plan for Curated Brew to them in an email, asking them if they’d care to be involved. Of the roasters who said they'd like to work with Curated Brew, Ian asked for samples, and cupped them blind. This cupping allowed him to benchmark the roasters initially, and three roasters were chosen to work with for the first three months.


Working with Assembly Roasters for the first month’s offer, Ian was able to visit the roaster and cup alongside the team in choosing the featured coffees for March. Talor & Jørgen were selected for a May feature and Norway based Australian Talor Browne let Ian know that she was going to be visiting London and they cupped coffee together at green coffee importers Mercanta. From 50 coffees, they chose a favourite - a Rwandan Musasa, which has gone down well with members.


Currently, Sweden’s Koppi are featured. Ian talked through the Helsingborg roaster’s current offering with Anne Lunell and, if logistics allow, they hope to send their members some of Koppi's first Kenyan coffee of the year. Each of the roasters is featured in an interview on Curated Brew’s journal.




Let Ian explain, “When I was planning Curated Brew, I knew that I wanted to build the kind of coffee subscription that I would actually sign up to myself. You see, I was always reluctant to sign up to a single roaster subscription, as I'm someone who loves variety. That's why we feature a different roaster every month.”


Ian also found that as a customer it was too difficult to find information on the roasters he was actually buying coffee from, which is why he works with the featured roasters to provide insight into the roaster's background and ethos. The coffees arrive with an eye-catching folded card presenting the interview with the roasters and colour coded business-card sized …err…cards give information on origin, producer, varietal, altitude and tasting notes as well as background on the coffee and the producers. The design aesthetic is particularly strong with Curated Brew making excellent use of colour, space and layout to make their information accessible and attractive.



Ian noted that he would never have signed up to a subscription which locked him in for a fixed period of time; this is why Curated Brew is designed to be as flexible as possible. Currently, Curated Brew gives members ultimate flexibility to opt-out, pause, alter or cancel their membership at any time. Rather than forcing users to lock themselves in for three, six or twelve months, they can just sign up, see whether they like it, and opt out if and when they please. 


Final words to Ian, “Curated Brew is building the world's best coffee membership, one member at a time.”