Boise Drinks: Beans By Mail

Support Local Journalism


In simpler times, coffee was good because it was hot. Over the last few years, though, a trend has begun to emerge in Boise: local baristas talking about coffee the way sommeliers talk about wine and cicerones about beer. Even as coffee gets complicated, some companies have made it easier than ever to get beans from their roasters to Boise cups. Here are some of Boise's best subscription services to have coffee delivered right to your front door:

Hammer & Kettle

When coffee aficionados talk about "points of origin," they're talking about where their beans come from—places like Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Hawaii. In Boise, it also means where those bean seekers got their start in the business. Like a lot of Boise baristas and roasters, Tyler Lacy's point of origin was The District Coffee House.

"It was a passion for me for about a year," Lacy said. "Last year I started looking for investors and looking at a roaster itself."

At the time, The District was owned by a nonprofit, and Lacy walked away from his stint there with a mission to strengthen the connection between the people growing his beans and his clients, all while delivering the best cup of coffee he could. After cutting his teeth roasting beans he purchased online, he connected with California-based Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders, falling hard for its direct trade-sourced beans.

At Hammer & Kettle's website, avid drinkers can get 12-ounce bags sent to their doorsteps for as little as $14 per week, from the house blend to Lacy's Ethiopian single-origin, which he calls a "fruit bomb."

"You'd take a sip and it would taste just like a handful of blueberries," he said.

Like other ethically sourced foods, he said organic, fair-trade coffee offers customers a value that goes beyond flavor.

"Coffee is an important part of our lives, but the people are the real story. I want to see more people have a deeper understanding that their coffee doesn't just come from their barista."

Happy Day Brands

Mark Priddy puts his B-corporation's social-good mission in the proverbial storefront.

"When we think about corporate responsibilities, it's embedded deeply in our mission and our DNA," said the owner of Happy Day Brands.

For just under $11 per week, Happy Day coffee subscribers can feel good for having supported several nonprofits across the Treasure Valley dedicated to serving the homeless, women, refugees and those in need of job training.

Priddy got his start running the popular Rembrandt's coffee shop in Eagle, where he developed a sense of place and an appreciation for the power of business to strengthen community. Happy Day is an extension of that in more ways than one, selling an array of coffees, teas, chocolates and oatmeal, all while supporting partners like Create Common Good, Idaho Foodbank and Interfaith Sanctuary, where Happy Day provides all the coffee—50,000 cups of it per year, supported in part by the company's subscription program.

It tastes good, too. With 14 available coffees to choose from, there's something for every kind of coffee drinker, including three decafs, espresso, and Javas sourced from prime growing regions. There are even themed blends like the North End, Batch 441 and a French roast ground to customers' specifications.

"The first thing is, we really want to get fresh coffee to [the customer's] door. We talk about happiness [that] has been delivered," Priddy said. "The other piece is, we wanted people to be part of the mission. When you get a coffee subscription you're going to learn about what's going on in the community."

Form & Function

Since swinging open its doors in December 2017, Form & Function has been the roast of the town, becoming a popular spot for neighbors, students and business people.

There, hipness is the name of the game. The clean, spare interior always echoes with music and baristas prepare pour-over coffees with fashionable slowness and precision. Everything is just-so, since the owners, Kate and Scott Seward, have a vision.

"It seemed like a really great way to offer a product we thought was missing in the market and also offer an environment," said Scott.

The Sewards have been in the coffee business a long time, getting their start in 2005 at Flying M when it opened its Nampa location, and moving on to The District before starting a business of their own. When they secured a Small Business Administration loan before having a spot picked out for their cafe, they needed income. One of the ways they earned it was at a pop-up at the Boise Farmers Market. The other was through a subscription program.

Today, approximately two dozen people purchase their coffee through Form & Function's subscription service, which rotates roasts so customers can try a little bit of everything the cafe has to offer. Almost all of the subscribers—nearly 90 percent, by Scott's reckoning—are out-of-towners.

"We have one guy in Virginia who buys a lot from us," Scott said. "Most [subscribers] are people who travel here. They pop into the market and we give them a subscription card. I think they try it because it seems like a novelty, but they just keep doing it, and the convenience is too good to pass up."