Reviews of coffee services that appear online only.

Queen of the Hill: Time Tested Roasting Meets Ordering Online

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My favorite part about reviewing coffee is coming into contact with family roasting companies that have been around for generations. When I’m able to review or buy coffee from a shop that has been around for decades, passing recipes and roasting techniques down as they go, I know I’m in for a treat. Mills Coffee is one such company, having been founded by Thomas Mills in 1860. The roasting company is currently being run by fourth and fifth generation Mills who recently launched, their online retailer that sells their signature roasts and blends.

The Snapshot

After Thomas Mills emigrated to the United States in 1860 from Scotland he opened Mills Teas and Butter. Eventually he decided to expand to include his new favorite beverage: coffee. In the late 1800s Thomas began roasting his own beans, beginning a tradition that would continue for over a century. Today, Mills Coffee is run by Susan and her brother David. David took on the role of master roaster while Susan handles financial and creative dimensions of the company. Susan’s son Dave now works in the family business, being an all around go-to man and stepping in to roast when David is away. Her daughter Nicole handles online retail through their new website. Mills Coffee is a family company through-and-throug and they carefully select their coffees from high quality, sustainable, eco-friendly, socially-conscious environments. One of the places they get their beans is La Cotorra farm, located in a remote portion of the Dominican Republic. They helped La Cotorra get out of a tight financial spot, simultaneously contributing to the local DR community.

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David Mills visiting a farm in Costa Rica

Their online store is easy to navigate, with coffees in the $20/lb range (upwards with shipping). The “coffee 101” and “about” sections of their website are fine, though they don’t give nearly as much information as the handout they included with my coffee. Their story is fascinating to read, and I think it would benefit them greatly to include it on their website. Additionally, the art on their shopping portion of the website is a bit much and doesn’t tell me a lot about the coffee, besides the name. The rest of the website has a lighthearted yet still professional feel, while the art seemed to stick out as being not entirely cohesive with the rest of the site. Perhaps determining a consistent theme and then departing from that according to the specifics of each coffee would help. Ordering coffee is a breeze, though the descriptions of their roasts and blends are hit and miss. Some are great – offering flavor profiles and specifics about where the coffee was grown. Others are more general and could use some more details about what makes that coffee unique. I’m probably a bit oversensitive here: I really like to know what coffee I’m getting and where it came from. It could be that this simply isn’t as big of a deal to the average consumer. Overall, I’m excited that they decided to open up an online store this year, and I think Mills Coffee is taking steps in the right direction.

The Coffee

Mills Coffee sent me two coffees: their Dominican and El Salvador roasts. I ended up enjoying the Dominican more, but both brought interesting flavor profiles to the table.

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The Dominican is a lighter roast with strong, earthy notes and mild acidity. Brewing it in my v60 created an expected clean cup of coffee, and I found the aftertaste to be almost sweet. The flavor is strong and present throughout each sip, never wavering. It reminded me of a macadamia nut – smooth, yet bold all at once. It kept me coming back for more, and the steadiness of each cup increased my trust in this coffee.

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The El Salvador, conversely, is more citrusy/chocolatey in flavor. It reminded me almost of a chocolate covered peanut, which is welcome to be sure. My only qualm with this coffee was that each sip finished extremely dry. While it wasn’t inherently bad, I found myself desiring no more than one cup in a sitting, followed by a glass of water.

Final Thoughts

I absolutely recommend buying Mills Coffee. Their family origins and their passion to make a great product is evident. Their coffee is delicious, and their website is a very capable medium to purchase from. My experience with them has only been positive, and it is evident that they really do care about the quality of their roasts.

The Coffee Guy

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Mills Coffee Social Media Links:

Twitter: @QueenBeanCoffee
Facebook: Like their page

Java Bean Plus Review

Java Bean Plus describes themselves as “Wholesale custom roasted coffee” with “freshness guaranteed.” Their focus is to offer the highest quality product with the most informative customer service currently available.

One of the banner’s from JBP’s website

I’d like to start off by saying that my experience may have been unique due to two factors: first off, I’m not a customer. Java Bean Plus generously sent me three samples of their coffee for this review. The great thing is that they were kind enough to send them for free. Unfortunately, this means I didn’t get to interact with their customer service department – I’ll talk about that in a bit. The second reason my experience with Java Bean Plus was probably unique is due to the fact that this review is long overdue. Being a part-time blogger and a full time student, it’s taken me far too long to get to this post. I’d like to publicly thank Java Bean Plus for their patience with me!

Those two points aside, I feel as though Java Bean Plus is worthy of a quality review because of their clear dedication as a wholesaler.

On their website they list three points that set them apart from competitors:

1) Unlike many other coffee and tea suppliers, we don’t compete with our customers. We will not sell to individual consumers for home use

2) We aim to ship all orders within 24 hours. We understand the importance of your order and your need to maintain a fresh stock of coffee and tea for your customers

3) We are dedicated to quality and service. If you are not satisfied with your order please call or e-mail us and we will be sure to refund your purchase

The Snapshot

Java Bean Plus’ website feels cold and calculating to me, robotic even. There’s not a sense of community here – it’s simply an online store. Browsing around and looking for various coffees feels like a generic experience. “Freshness guaranteed” doesn’t sound like a rallying cry to me, it’s actually the bare minimum of what I would hope for from a quality coffee supplier. That being said, their promise of providing information to small business on a case by case basis seems like it would be indispensable to a local coffee shop trying to get on their feet.

What JBP lacks in the overall feel of the website, they make up for with their clear focus on the customer. Small businesses reign supreme: JBP will allow you to pick bag colors, use a label you design, and customize a variety of other factors. “Customer Service” is a link that appears on the top right of every page on the website. You can contact them by phone, email, form on the website, or even by sending a letter to their address. In small business little things make a huge difference, and it seems like Java Bean Plus hit the nail on the head in this regard.


The Coffee

Java Bean Plus’ website is full of different headers and menus used for shopping for different regions, roasts, and types of coffee. They sent me three coffees: the Guatemala Antigua, Mexico High Growth, and Costa Rica Tarrazu.

The Guatemala Antigua had a rich flavor, but not a very full mouthfeel. It was definitely the most mild of the three, with a low acidity. The flavor was constant, and each sip provided wave after wave of deliciousness. While I’ve never licked a tree in my life, the word “dogwood” came to mind as I sipped the brew. Take that for what it’s worth!

The Mexico High Growth was straight up bitter the first time I brewed it. High acidity gave it a poor aftertaste that I wasn’t a big fan of. After using both my Aeropress and Clever to brew various cups, I realized it was actually a very complicated coffee. Something must have been off in the brewing process for my initial taste test that muddled the notes and caused the coffee to taste bad. I gave it a chance and came away with another opinion. The coffee itself smells fresh, like tilled soil with hints of fruitiness and some flowers. In that sense the acidity definitely peeked through and gave it a  unique zing. While I initially didn’t like the coffee at all, I ended up appreciating it the most out of the three.

The Costa Rica Tarrazu had a rich, carmel-esque smell when I brewed it. On my initial taste, the first word that struck me was “depth.” The coffee had an earthy mid not with a bright aftertaste, leaving your tongue dancing and waiting for the next sip. There were definite hints of oak.


Final Thoughts

Java Bean Plus isn’t something I would recommend to the average consumer – which is a good thing. They aren’t trying to cater to the average consumer. Instead, they are trying to bring good, quality specialty coffee to businesses that will cater to the average consumer. And quite frankly, they are perfect in that regard. Their website may not be the flashiest on the web, but it is functional, and it is easy to find coffee in. I found their coffee to be delightfully delicious.

The thing that I love most about a great cup of coffee is that it is the result of the combined efforts of people from all over the world. Everyone from the grower to the barista has a say in how the final product will turn out. I am happy to say that Java Bean Plus does their job in that process well.

The Coffee Guy

Find Java Bean Plus here:

TONX Coffee Does a Beautiful Thing

When talking about coffee with friends I often hear two things regarding purchasing good, quality coffee.

(1) What’s good and where do I buy it?


(2) It seems too difficult to buy good coffee. I’d rather just buy a can or use kcups.

I acknowledge the positions of anyone who has given or contemplated either of these responses. The truth is, unless you live near a Stumptown or Dawson Taylor it is a chore to get great coffee. Don’t get me wrong – this is a chore that, in my opinion, is well worth the effort (unlike sweeping. Let’s be real here – the floor is just going to get dirty AGAIN). The problem is that for many people ease-of-purchase trumps great taste in the everyday situation. If you can purchase a can or bag of coffee while buying groceries, it makes far more sense to kill two birds with one stone. Right? “Fine – let all these hipster baristas go out of their way to buy marginally better coffee, I’ll stick to my “sub par” brew that tastes just fine, thank you very much.”

I completely understand this attitude. The problem is, you no longer have that excuse.

TONX Coffee solves this “ease-of-purchase” problem by delivering fresh roasted, amazing coffee straight to your door. And not only that, they time it so that as your bag is beginning to run low, a new one is already on the way.

What is Tonx?

Tonx wants you to drink good coffee. We are a small team of coffee fanatics dedicated to becoming your best option for getting the best beans for brewing at your home, your office, or your batcave (if you are Batman). We think coffee can and should be both great and approachable. We sweat the fussy details so that you don’t have to. We aim to always be delightful in your press, aero, cone, chemex, hario, or clever coffee making device.


Tonx has a great system set up. You pay $38 a month, billed every four weeks. You get a 12oz bag of coffee every two weeks (roasts differ from week to week). You can pause at any time. You can cancel at any time. That’s it.

Say goodbye to stale coffee that sits on your shelf or in a can. Tonx mails your coffee right after it’s roasted so that you get the freshest possible cup. And if you’re a regular (or more than regular) coffee drinker like me, 12oz of whole bean coffee is the perfect amount for two weeks.

I recently got the opportunity to try Tonx out for myself, and I was super impressed. Not only was registering incredibly easy, but when it came time for me to pause my subscription, there was absolutely no hassle involved. I logged in to their site, and pressed the “pause” button and I was good to go. But what about the coffee?

I received a Tanzania Mpito roast which was described on the bag as “deep, delicious, cooperative, and delightful.” I found each of these adjectives to be apt descriptions. One of the biggest things that stood out to me as I opened Tonx’s signature rectangular art-influenced packaging was the smell. The coffee had one of the richest smells that I’ve had the pleasure to behold. If you love coffee you know that there’s nothing like the buttery rich smell of fresh roasted coffee, and this was absolutely no exception.

I brewed this coffee mostly using the inverted brew method in my Aeropress. After learning a thing or two at Coffee Common last month, I felt more than equipped to brew a tasty cup of Tonx Coffee. The Tanzania’s description was dead-on: I experienced the coffee as having a dense deep flavor that had elements of both complex brightness and simple clear notes. I enjoyed several cups with homemade biscotti, and this only added to the experience. I also tried the Tanzania Mpito in a mocha with “shots” pulled through my Aeropress. Chocolate proved to give the deep flavor of the Tanzania some great accents, and I enjoyed every last drop.

Tonx sold me from the very beginning: registering on their website was simple and straightforward. Their presentation with the packaging and reading pamphlet that was provided was exemplary. Finally, and most importantly, the coffee was amazing.

For a lot of people, driving to a cafe or roaster that sells great specialty coffee is too much of a hassle. Tonx coffee solves this dilemma by delivering the cafe experience to your front door.

After doing a little bit of math, check out what I discovered:

  • 1lb of coffee (16oz) makes about 30 cups of coffee. This means a 12oz bag of Tonx coffee will make 22 and a half cups, but let’s call it 22 to make it easy.
  • Since Tonx is sending you a 12oz bag every two weeks, and billing you every four weeks, you are paying $38 for about 44 cups of coffee. (That provides you with 1.57 cups of coffee per day, by the way).
  • Divide it out and you’re paying $0.86 per cup of coffee.
  • If you were to buy 44 cups of similar-grade coffee from a quality cafe at $2 per cup (which is a low estimate if you want any espresso drink), you would be paying $88. In this case, Tonx would save you $50 a month.
  • If you were to instead buy a $2 cup of great-tasting specialty coffee every day for four weeks, you would spend $56 a month. In this case, Tonx would save you $18 a month.

No matter how you cut it, Tonx Coffee is doing a beautiful thing. Help them help you and sign up now.

Or, at the very least, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

The Coffee Guy