Writer, consultant and coffee goddess, Emily McIntyre, was one of the first people to really help me out when I first started KCcoffeegeek.com. At the time she was working for one of my favorite coffee roasters in Portland, OR and Emily helped pave the way for me to work with a bunch of other roasters out there. Since then she and her husband have started Catalyst Coffee Consulting and she is also the director of operations for the relatively new coffee subscription service, Crema.co. Emily recently asked me to check out Crema.co and see what I think and what I found is well worth sharing with readers!
TLDR Version: Crema.co is one of the best laid-out, easy to use and functional websites I’ve seen. The shipping was great and the selection of roasters and coffees is awesome. Couldn’t ask for anything more and it’s an A+. Crema.co sets a high bar for coffee subscriptions!
It seems like these days you can’t throw a rock without hitting a coffee subscription service! Almost every roaster has some subscription option, and there is certainly no shortage of subscriptions that handle multiple roasters, too. So what, if anything, makes Crema.co stand apart from the others? Let’s find out!
Crema.co was founded by Tyler Tate, who imagined a coffee marketplace that facilitated getting great coffee into drinkers’ hands but would also tell the important story behind every coffee and farmer. With help from software engineer, Bryan Rahbein and my friend, Emily, they turned Crema.co into a Kickstarter campaign, raising over $25,000 in April 2015. After a private beta to test things out, Crema.co officially launched in December of 2015.
In full disclosure, Emily gave me a $20 credit so I could try out Crema.co without any out-of-pocket expenses, so armed with my 20 bucks I headed for the Internet! Actually, the “you have a gift” email from Emily that alerted me to the fact that I had a credit at Crema.co was the only hiccup in the whole process. I use Gmail and the email went directly into my “Promotions” tab. I don’t know why, but I almost never check my Social and Promotions tabs in Gmail (don’t even get me started about the Spam, Junk and Clutter folders on Outlook, which I have to use for work!) and so my only concern would be people missing a gift from Crema.co’s website because of this.
The Crema website has a nice, clean, modern look that will look very familiar to anyone who peruses coffee websites once in a while. The top menu is well-organized and simple, allowing you to link to coffees, roasters, or give a gift. In the upper right corner you have your login and your Brewlist, which is Crema’s way of organizing your coffees, sort of like your playlist for bean juice. If it matters, I did all my playing around on the website on a fully updated Apple Mac Mini using Safari as my browser.
Once I log in, the site takes me automatically to the page that would open if you clicked the “Coffees” link in the top menu bar. I’m able to explore coffees by roast level (light, medium, dark), geography and even certification (USDA Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Direct Trade) and, of course, the original links I mentioned that allow me to go to roasters and coffees are still live at the top of the page. The coffee selections are nicely laid out in a grid and the whole site is beautifully responsive, so as I make my browser window bigger or smaller, the photos and layout change accordingly, too. Awesome, really! Each coffee in the grid has a photo of the farmers or the farm, a clearly marked name, a few flavor descriptors, the price and size of the bag you’d get, an “add to brewlist button” and a very clear logo in the corner of who the coffee roaster is. I couldn’t ask for a cleaner interface or a better layout for this part of the site!
There are even little touches like on the above page, when I hover my mouse pointer over a coffee, the selection background darkens, and the roast level pops up under the roaster logo, just so you know which coffee you’re hovering over. The screenshot below shows what I mean, where the first coffee on the left of the screen is the one my mouse is hovering over in the photo.
Finally, on this page, coffees that have particular certifications also have special icons (two-way arrows for direct trade, USDA Organic logo for organic, and what looks like a little human for Fair Trade) so you know what, if any, certifications the coffee carries. Anything that has already been added to my Brewlist is also indicated clearly as such.
The Roasters link at the top menu bar takes you to a page of logos of all the current roasters on Crema.co. The current roaster list is awesome… Bold Bean (you know I love those guys!), Nossa Familia (whose coffee I just reviewed yesterday), Toby’s Estate, Paradise Coffee Roasters, One Village Coffee, Villa Myriam, Onyx Coffee Lab (you know I love those guys, too!) and James Coffee Co.
Clicking on a roaster opens the link to the roaster’s page within Crema.co and it is so well thought out I can hardly stand it! For an information addict like me, this is perfection! You have a nice photo of the roaster’s place, the logo, links to their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other social media outlets, location on Earth, contact info. Oh my! There is some back story on the roaster and then a quick scroll down shows you all the coffees currently available from that roaster. Want something from Onyx, but you’re not sure what all they have available through Crema right now? This is your first stop!
Now, let’s talk about this Brewlist! At least on my Mac and using Safari, when I find a coffee that looks interesting and click the “add to Brewlist” button for that coffee, a little animation shows the coffee being dragged and dropped into the little Brewlist icon in the upper right corner. Clicking the Brewlist icon causes the site to shift to the left while a sidebar opens up on the right side of the screen, revealing my current list.
There is sooooo much I like about the Brewlist view above, too. As you can see, I don’t have enough credit to get my next coffee, so my list is in suspension and I can add my preferred payment method right from here. As you would expect, I also received an email from Crema.co telling me this was happening, which is a nice reminder. You can see my list, when each coffee in the list is scheduled to ship and, also very nicely, at the bottom you see “Ship Every…” with a drop down menu for 5 days, Week, 10 days, 2 Weeks, 3 Weeks, Month. There is also a “pause” button there in the event that you want to pause your shipments. Let’s say you’ll be in Bora Bora for a couple weeks, just pause it and leave, when you’re in the airport to fly home on your private jet, just open the site, unpause and the shipments will pick up where they left off. Sweet!
In case you were wondering, yes, you can drag and drop each selection in your Brewlist to easily rearrange it, so if I decide I want James Coffee’s Honduras next instead of the Nicaragua Santa Lucila, I can just drag it to the top of the list. I can also remove coffees from my list with the click of the “remove” link. Everything you need is right there.
I get occasional emails from Crema when new coffees and/or roasters are added, and I also get alerts via email when a coffee is sold out. These are automatically removed from my Brewlist, so I don’t have to manage anything along those lines, it’s all done by Crema. Even the emails are well thought out and the subject line has most of the info you need so if you’re the kind of person who reads a subject line and then deletes an email before you even open it, you can be “that guy” and not lose any sleep over it! LOL
Adding shipping info, credit card information, claiming a gift, etc are all clear and easy to do. I cannot overemphasize how well designed and implemented Crema’s interface is. Emily’s storytelling for each coffee and farmer is wonderful and the only challenge to any of this is figuring out which coffees you want next!
The shipping is prompt and fast and the boxes are a nice presentation, even, too. I truly liked everything about my Crema.co experience.
Without overstating one bit, Crema.co sets the benchmark for what a multiroaster subscription service should look like, what information the website should have and the functionality of using it all online. They have set the bar very high and I love it!