Watering Beans

“As a company, we’re in business to help improve lives.”

That’s how TOMS represents their novel approach to business, according to the home page for their new coffee. Because it’s TOMS, you know there’s a buy one, give one here and in this case, the give is one week of water for a person who needs it for every bag of coffee you buy.

Even if TOMS didn’t invent the One for One model, they can certainly claim some responsibility for popularizing it. Numerous other e-commerce sites are dedicated to the mission of making a profit and giving back. When I first heard about TOMS’ plans to break into the red hot coffee business, I was excited and eager to test it out. That day has finally arrived.

I’m primarily a purveyor of what is probably best described as a homemade iced latte hack, so my bean of choice was the TOMS espresso roast, Carpe Diem. Because I’m a sucker for cool mugs, I also splurged on the beautiful, but admittedly way overpriced espresso mug. The mug is smaller than I anticipated but it’s elegant in its simplicity and the fit and finish is above and beyond what I expected. There’s a good chance I’ll look at it more than I drink from it, but I’m okay with that.

Back to the coffee. While I certainly enjoy specialty roasts more than your typical bag of beans, I can’t say that I have a flavor palate finely tuned for the specific subtle flavors often found in carefully roasted beans. I can tell a difference between various roasts, but ask me to verify a specific flavor profile and you’ll find me speechless. With that in mind, I’ll normalize this conversation by mentioning that my go-to roasts for my daily iced lattes are Counter Culture’s Toscano and Larry’s Beans espresso roast. This morning’s TOMS espresso latte certainly won’t supplant either of those as my daily driver, but I am confident that I will enjoy the next week or two of this new entrant on the shelf. All that to say, the TOMS bag is pretty good. This initial tasting was positive enough to quell my fears about this venture into roasting being all about the gimmick – the coffee seems good enough to sustain the buy one, give one model if and when the product is able to gain even just a little bit of traction.

TOMS sells their coffee by the bag or as part of a curated subscription service with various pricing options depending on your level of commitment (monthly, six month, or annual). Because I primarily drink milk-laced concoctions, blend variety is pretty much wasted on me; but I think the TOMS subscription is worth a go if you’re interested in giving back while trying something new. I can’t promise a cadre of superlatives about the coffee (due more to inexperience than disappointment), but it does seem like the product is at least on par with other specialty roasters and above the level of your typical, roasted for shelf-life supermarket offerings.

Rating: Notable.