Tonx Coffee Review.
Tonx is a coffee subscription service, delivering freshly roasted coffee right to your door. I was aware of Tonx through various mentions on Twitter, but was able to give them a try through their Starbucks gift card exchange program, as I had received a Starbucks gift card from Christmas.
The service is pretty straightforward; Tonx offers three levels of subscriptions: 6 ounces for $12, 12 ounces for $19, and 24 ounces for $34. Beans are roasted every other Sunday and shipped on Monday. They source and roast the beans themselves, providing tasting notes and information about the people and farms growing the beans in each batch. The emphasis is on making better coffee from better beans, freshly roasted.
My gift card allowed me two shipments, so my data sample is admittedly small. The beans were good quality, lightly roasted, and single origin.1 Lightly roasted seems to be the trend for high quality beans and seems to result in brighter, fruitier flavors.2 Single origin coffees are supposed to be purer expressions of the coffee’s terroir.3
The theory of roasting on Sunday, shipping on Monday, and receiving freshly roasted coffee beans a few days later sounds good. The reality is that, for the coffee to ship from California to Georgia, the coffee didn’t arrive until Thursday,4 unable to use until Friday morning’s coffee, so the coffee was 4–18 days old during its course in the house. Compared to Starbucks or Supermarket coffee, this is extremely fresh. For home espresso,5 though, it gets on the old side toward the end.
On a user experience note, the website is fantastic. It is a pleasure to use, with a wonderful aesthetic. It houses a wealth of relevant information in addition to the basic functionality of account and subscription management. Kudos to the designers and developers there.
My main hangup with Tonx had nothing to do with Tonx and everything to do with the fact that I have convenient access to great, locally roasted coffee within three miles of my house. I can get great coffee roasted yesterday, so I didn’t want to continue my subscription.
When it came time to cancel, finding how to do so was no problem. Tonx lets you pause a subscription for several weeks or cancel your subscription altogether. When I went to cancel, I had not yet been billed for the difference between my gift card balance and the cost for the last shipment. They gave a little notice by the Cancel button that I owed $6 and they would be collecting that even after I cancelled. I figured that I would just wait for that to get settled and then cancel. When I came back to cancel, I had been charged for the next month’s subscription, and when canceling, the little notice said that my subscription would be cancelled after the paid shipments have shipped. To be fair, this is exactly how they state that the payments and deliveries are done, but, having funded my subscription with a gift card, this was my first experience with it. I was particularly irritated by the automatic shipment of the remainder of my charges instead of refunding, or giving the option for a refund. I sent a message to their customer service and within a few hours I had a notice saying that my account had been canceled and the balance refunded. I didn’t have to fight or argue my point. It was good customer service.
Overall Tonx provides a great service. If good quality, freshly roasted coffee is unavailable locally, I definitely recommend Tonx as a means to obtain it. Their product and customer experience are excellent.
- Single origin means that the beans come from a single geographic region. The first batch was the from two farms in the Quilanga Cantón of Loja, Ecuador. The second batch was from a single coffee processing mill in Nyanza, Rwanda. ↩
- Or perhaps brighter, fruitier beans tend to be more lightly roasted. Chicken & egg. ↩
- Give me a shout if I’m off-base on my impressions of light roasts and single origins. ↩
- In reality reality, the beans didn’t arrive for me until Friday. They were schedule for Thursday, but we had Snowjam 2014 and Snowjam Pt II the two weeks that the beans were shipping, so they got delayed. ↩
- Which I’ve really gotten into lately. ↩