New Japanese subscription service delivers fresh roasted coffee to your door



It has been interesting to watch the development of many online subscription commerce services over the past few years. Depending on the product, some of these services have been successful while others have not. I suspect product has a lot to do with it.

For example, I’ve subscribed to a number of products using Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program. And one thing I’ve noticed is that if I don’t select the right delivery frequency, some things can build up faster than I can use them. In a case like that, I’m disappointed to see them arrive on my doorstep.

But products that have a limited lifespan which would be tailor-made to such subscription commerce. I’d love to have a basket of fruit delivered weekly to my door. Perishable items would not carry over into the next week, and you’d always be delighted to see a new basket arrive.

Perhaps following the same logic, US-based Tonx has done well with its subscription roasted coffee service. According to the company, “The full flavor of coffee begins to reveal itself a few days after it’s roasted, and starts to wane after a couple weeks.” They deliver coffee to customers every other week, based on that time frame.

Java for Japan

Regrettably Tonx does not yet deliver to Japan. But thankfully, the folks over at AQ just launched a site that will deliver your java fix twice monthly [1]. It’s called Kawakura, and you can sign up on their teaser page right now to be notified of when they officially start.

I asked AQ’s Chris Palmieri about why they thought something like this would work in Japan. He explained:

Kawakura started as a quest to get the most enjoyment possible from my morning ritual of making coffee. For me this meant always having great beans at home, an understanding of where they come from and how to get the most flavor from them. 

A subscription model obviously solves the first part, the logistics of buying fresh beans every week, but we’re more excited by how Kawakura can facilitate a conversation between the roaster and the customer. Conversation is how we learn from each other, and how simple routines can become the favorite part of our day.

Don’t look now, but I think AQ just made being coffee-sipping hipster designers cool again [2].

I’m told they’ll start off with a small customer base and see what they learn. For now the company is still talking with local roasters, and learning as much as they can before they make their first shipment.

I’m not a big coffee drinker myself, but I’m glad to see someone take a shot at this here in Japan. All you caffeine-dependent Japanese startups out there are encouraged to share this link with your boss. That Red Bull will rot your teeth, I hear.

  1. You may remember AQ from such projects as Hi and their AQ Lift program.  ↩

  2. Who am I gonna make fun of now? Maybe Saskatchewan.  ↩