Frequently Asked Questions

The coffee industry is in a global sustainability crisis and GUSTATORY exists to widen the conversation. Dedicated to supporting coffee farmers and independent coffee roasters, GUSTATORY is a speciality coffee subscription service that features all the most exciting of UK, USA and European speciality coffee roasters. Known industry-wide for our leading coffee curations, our ever-rotating roaster discoveries serve the best of speciality coffees in terms of quality, ethics and sustainability. As part of our continued effort, we strive to work with coffee associations towards a more sustainable future for coffee.

All of our partner coffee roasters are focused on ensuring their produce is of the highest quality and that their production processes are ethical and sustainable. Being conscious of impact on both immediate and wider communities, as well as presenting many new opportunities, is a big part of what our partners and GUSTATORY do.

Our Sustainability Mission

Q/ What makes GUSTATORY different?

Well, there aren't any others. GUSTATORY is the only place that works with the best of UK, USA and European coffee roasters and brings all these fantastic independents together under one coffee subscription. As our mission statement states:

1  The Reality Of Coffee, 2021: Not all coffee is sustainable or ethical. In fact, far too much isn't. The reality of the coffee industry in it's evolution is that it's global prices are currently so low that most producers are struggling to cover their operating costs, hugely affecting livelihoods in countries that depend on exporting coffee. For those producers managing to survive, too many are also unable to re-invest in their farms towards modernisation and adapting to climate change, adversely affecting coffee yields today and for years to come. 'But I love a morning coffee, I buy coffee regularly enough' we hear you say - well, quite, we all love a morning coffee routine at home or as a takeout...

2  Towards Coffee's Sustainable Future: ...However, choosing independent roasters' speciality coffee is a much better choice than that of lower grade, less ethical supermarket / multinational cafe alternatives. Such independent roasters often have direct relationships with their farmers and producers, and are dedicated to remunerating those along their supply chains with purchases much higher than market price value, even paying up to 2 or 3 times more than Fairtrade agreements. Besides, we've not even mentioned how independent roasters' speciality coffee is better tasting, too, but that's a given. Contributing towards a more sustainable future for coffee, support these independent roasters' efforts and subscribe to a coffee subscription. Voted as ELLE's and Esquire's 'Best Wholebean-Only Subscription 2021', Shortlist's 'Best Coffee Subscription 2020' and more.

Q/ Are ethics important to GUSTATORY?

Of course. A main priciple of GUSTATORY is to emphasise better practices in the roasted coffee industry, and as an influential coffee subscription service, we strive to focus on independent coffee roasters making measurable environmental, social and fiscal sustainability a priority in everything they do. The world of coffee is like one large community, and through collaborative effort, every independent roaster can really make a difference. Discover more about our ethics and sustainability of better coffee.

For GUSTATORY's speciality coffee box subscriptions, each of our featuring coffee roasters are heavily focused on doing more for sustainability and ethics within a widely unsustainable coffee industry, and by directly supporting us support them, their farmers and producers are supported too. We don't stop there with our environmental prioritisation and actively recognise the waste of traditional subscription boxes. As such, we consciously reduce our packaging sizes towards our carbon footprint, as well as only use 100% recycled boxes, wrapping, tape and leaflets in our packages. Subscribing to our service will not only guarantee you quality coffee each month, it will also allow to play a small part in driving sustainability and ensuring the longevity of the ecosystems that both the coffee industry and the planet need to survive. Hows that for an added bonus?

Q/ Hang on, you just mentioned 'widely unsustainable coffee industry'. This isn't good, what do you mean?

Well, "coffee is the single most consumed product in developed nations that is produced by developing nations". That is what we believe and whilst it is a beverage for us to all enjoy, it should be our privilege to consciously consider which coffee we're consuming. GUSTATORY exists to widen the conversation that speciality coffee is so much more than regular commodity coffee.

1  Being sustainable is about more than just the planet. It's also about the caring people involved earning enough profit to survive. With all developing nations' coffee farmers an embedded part of their communities, whether they're individual or part of co-operatives, lives and families depend on the export. Fair and ethical purchasing should be a minimum.

2  ...Yet, unfair shareholder-pleasing coffee supply purchasing made by multinational cafe chains and lower-grade roasters drives a global ethics and sustainability problem. Developing nations' coffee farmers wish to responsibly operate to survive. As one example, Fairtrade's Minimum Price guarantees $1.40 per pound to be received by producers, yet many coffee roasters or multinational cafe chains don't even pay this. In comparison, the best of speciality coffee roasters go further, optionally paying upward of $4.00-5.00 per pound.

Why? Fourfold, with forest fires, droughts and other catastrophes increasingly occuring in farming regions, the higher payments provide much needed security (example: Forest Fires, Brazil); in ethical fairness to producers, for coffee farms to produce higher quality, better tasting coffees, and also help contribute to a more sustainable future.

3  Not all roasters or coffee subscriptions are equal. Enjoy better. Whilst multinational cafe chain and lower grade roasters will no doubt continue to serve their coffees with an abundance of sugars to mask their true quality and taste, discover UK's, Europe's and USA's much better speciality roasters. Besides, to enjoy better tasting, true value, ethically sourced speciality coffees, their consumer prices aren't even any higher, simply fairly priced for all. For casual coffee drinkers, coffee connoisseurs and everyone in between, also enjoy 41% average savings on RRP (2022). One subscription, many discoveries.

Q/ Oh wow, you really are trying to make a difference aren't you?

Well, yes, and all new subscribers are welcome. Together, lets try to reset the coffee supply chain, beat those multinational cafe chains that are so impactful, and whilst we're at it, let's all enjoy some fantastic coffee along the way.

Q/ I am new to brewing my own coffee and I would like to brew better. Where do I start?

GUSTATORY offers a central Journal & School area which offers coffee brewing methods and other helpful tips via our 'Fundamentals' section. In addition, the same area's 'Insights' looks into talking points and offers industry interviews, 'Locations' provides various explorations into the world's best cafes and coffee origins, and 'GUSTAStories' details stories about the ethics and responsibilities of our featured coffee roasters, tea makers and brands. From within this area you will be able to find all sorts of guidance in arming you with additional knowledge to help you get the most from your home-brewed beverage. If you are a subscriber to GUSTATORY's UK and international coffee subscription service, you will also be able to find the published tasting notes of each month's roasters and their coffees from within the Journal & School.

Whilst this won't necessarily help you brew any better teas or coffees (or maybe it will), you may also be pleased to discover GUSTATORY's Spotify channel from within our Journal & School - our soundtrack to coffee well. Offering various playlists, each are a splendid array of sumptuous tunes to which we've been slurping our brew. A mixture. A medley. A time to bop. A time to stop. A gift from us to you. Enjoy...

Q/ Does GUSTATORY sell it's own coffee?

Aside from our Mainstay coffees, no, all coffee featuring in our subscriptions have been lovingly prepared for you by our independent coffee roasters. Speciality coffee tastes great, everyone knows that, but something which independently-run speciality coffee roasters can achieve is a beverage that really excites all of the senses. This is a fact which GUSTATORY would rather champion than compete with. Learn more about our current Featuring Coffee Roasters.

Subscription Coffee Deliveries

Q/ Are my coffees always roasted fresh?

Yes, all coffees from each month's featured roasters are roasted fresh to order and shipped to us toward the end of every month ahead of the next turn of the month dispatch period. In fact, this is why we only have one dispatch date within the month, to help ensure all our roasters' dispatches arrive to us as close to one another as possible, for their coffees to be as fresh as possible for you. For our featured roasters located within the UK, their roast dates will be very close to our organised date, some the very day before, and for our European roasters, theirs will be roasted a few days earlier to cater for international shipping. All our roasters roast our coffees on a specific schedule tailored for our dates.

Please note: an important factor to consider is that coffee shouldn't be consumed immediately after being roasted to enjoy it's peak flavours, and in the same way to how the best of roasters openly publish comments on their bags such as 'best after 8 days' or 'best enjoyed after 10 days', we too encourage this, with this called the 'coffee rest period'. Such a period of time exists because a by-product of coffee roasting is CO2, in which this gas can make brewing difficult. For more info, please read our article on the coffee rest period within our Journal & School. With this in mind, for all the regular features of a roaster geographically distant from us, our careful organisation and planned logistics caters for this time period, ensuring that the recommended length of coffee rest period passes during shipping and that the coffees you receive will be well within their recommended brewing time. We understand that it may seem common sensical to think that coffee roasted yesterday will taste better than coffees roasted several days prior, however, we assure you that that isn't a professional recommendation and is an opinion shared by many of the best roasters.

Q/ If I subscribe, when do my deliveries arrive to me and who from?

If you are a subscriber to GUSTATORY's speciality coffee box subscriptions, all deliveries are made direct from GUSTATORY, based in the United Kingdom, in which we curate and manage all our subscriber's packages in-house to ensure package quality, variety and organisation. All coffee box subscriptions are dispatched across several days within the same dispatch period, taking place from each month's first Monday and/or 1st-2nd whichever best fits given each month's changing dates. As above, we have this to ensure coffee freshness from all our UK and international coffee roasters in which all subscribers are consolidated into the same dispatch period irrespective of individual payment cycles. Subscribing at some point in the middle of the month will mean you'll be automatically allocated to the next dispatch period, but rest assured, we have your subscription - welcome! All UK deliveries are sent via 48 hours postal service, with many subscribers receiving theirs the next day (postcodes may vary). For international shipping, all parcels are sent by expedited tracked methods, however, timeframes do vary per destination country.

Q/ How do my deliveries arrive to me? Is it recyclable packaging?

Absolutely, but we've also considered more than just that. As one of our core principles, coffees shouldn't cost the earth and delivering them shouldn't either. Recycling isn't always the best answer, with reduction and re-use better alternatives, in turn saving recycling's cost of energy and pollution output. Equally so, typical subscription boxes are often oversized, half full or filled with interior packaging, resulting in unnecessary waste and needless freight weight. Addressing this, we deliver our subscriptions using a range of box sizes as well as a mixture of wrapping and tape, all in effort to become more compact, 100% recyclable thereafter. Delivering worldwide with the packaging chosen per destination country, we can assure they’ll arrive undamaged and ready to be brewed. Plus, as it is what’s on the inside that always counts, our parcels are largely unbranded so that we can pass all of the cost savings onto you. Learn more about our humble packaging.

Q/ Can I manage and be in control of my coffee subscriptions?

Absolutely. For you to easily manage your subscription's deliveries, you have access to Manage My Subscription. From within here, you have complete control over your subscriptions, and should you ever wish to amend, pause or cancel the package you are subscribed to, you may easily do so. With the ability to also see your payment schedule in a calendar format, as well as easily amend your payment method, we hope subscribing is as easy as receiving your next subscription package through your door.

Q/ What are your subscription shipping costs?

International delivery starts from just £7.00 - what next? Your very own complimentary live-in barista too?

UK & Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man£3.00
Austria, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, SpainFrom £7.00
Rest of Europe (20+ Countries)From £10.00
Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, UAE, USAFrom £10.00
Rest of World (150+ Countries)From £13.00

Q/ Are there any customs fees for EU residents?

For EU resident subscribers, effective of 1st July 2021, there is now no 'low value threshold' within the EU and as such, every parcel entering into and travelling between EU countries will be subject to payable customs at the point of entering your EU country of residency. Prior to the new laws, parcels declared under a certain value were able to pass through customs without any fees to pay, however, these new laws have been created in order for EU governments to collect tax from multinational companies, in turn, affecting every EU resident in any EU country ordering a 'distance sale' (online purchase) from any EU and non-EU ecommerce website. Needing to pay customs is not related to UK leaving the EU under Brexit, and such law changes should not be confused with EU's free trade / single market for businesses, which still exists. For more information, please visit Europa (EU Official Website) or RSM (Tax Accountants).

As such, subscription deliveries may/will likely incur local country customs fees in order for the parcel to enter the country of your EU residency, and such fees would be payable whether you're ordering from us in the UK or from an ecommerce website from within the EU. If you've experience of receiving a different parcel without any customs fees to pay, your parcel will have either passed through your customs unchecked due to a lack of strict administration, or that the sender has paid your customs for you in advance, in which such customs fees will have been accounted for indirectly within that orders' checkout payment. From experience since the date of these new laws, we have found that some EU countries' customs check every parcel, whilst others do not have the person-power to do so, and thereby, many parcels continue through without any fees being charged. GUSTATORY cannot guarantee if your delivery will be one that is checked, nor can we be responsible for paying your own customs fees or accept refunds on any subscriptions should you wish to refuse your customs fees and the parcel be returned.

Briefly as context, GUSTATORY has a working relationship with hundreds of brands and online companies within the industry we serve and within others, and we are aware of a very large number that no longer permits EU residents to make a 'distance sale' (online purchase) from their webstores, with EU countries now not an option at their checkouts. GUSTATORY continues to offer it's subscription service considering the number of EU resident subscribers we continue to have, as well as the implication being just that import fees on the declared value of the goods are now chargeable. We thank you for your understanding.

Q/ Or, customs fees for non-EU residents?

No, for non-EU residents, the likelihood of being charged customs is very low given the value of the contents of your package and that the above customs laws do not exist for you, however, please reference your local customs office for an estimate of the potential charge if in doubt. As rule of thumb examples, orders declared under $800 destined for USA, under $35 for Thailand, under $400 for Australia, can all be imported without any issue, and thereby your subscription delivery won't be checked nor any additional import fees payable. Please speak to our Live Chat if you require further clarification.

Q/ I've changed my mind. Can I change or cancel my order? What do I do?

If you change your mind after placing an order with GUSTATORY, you may cancel it at any time before the item(s) are dispatched. Please contact our customer service team immediately to help us make suitable arrangements, letting us know your name, address details and order number to cancel your order. Unfortunately, orders cannot be cancelled if dispatch has already occurred, and therefore, letting us know as soon as you can is in your best interest. For further information on cancellations, please see our Delivery and Returns.

Q/ My order still hasn't arrived? What can I do?

Even though 99.9% of our Royal Mail, DHL and FedEx deliveries occur within the correct timescales, there are sometimes the odd occasion when delays or 'lost post' occur. We send thousands of parcels out every month and only ever see a small handful affected in some way for whatever reason, and thereby, consider our chosen methods of delivery to be very good. If you think your parcel is facing delivery delays or might be 'lost post', please contact our customer service team or speak to us on Live Chat and we'll be able to look into this for you. If yours is affected, we are always confident that your parcel will still arrive albeit at a later date as all our 'lost post' seem to always do, however, we do operate an honest subscription service with our own expectations on acceptable delivery timeframes and will always look to remedy delivery issues for those affected.

Q/ Can I return my order? Whats your policy?

For consumable goods, whilst our absolute priority is for our customers to receive and enjoy their quality beverage everytime, due to the nature of such a product type being consumable and perishable with a set shelf-life, GUSTATORY can only accept returns and process refunds on purchases which have been either damaged in some way or are not in accordance with our description. You are entitled to a cooling-off period of 28 days after dispatch within which you are eligible to return your item(s) for a full refund should your purchase(s) fall into any one of these two categories. Due to consumer hygiene reasons, we cannot accept returns and issue refunds on unwanted consumable items that are non-faulty and as described. For further information on returns and refunds, please see our returns policy.

Payments & Customer Service

Q/ What payment options can I use?

GUSTATORY offers payments by debit card or credit card (AMEX, Visa, Mastercard) as well as by our alternative payment options of Shopify Pay, PayPal, Google Pay and Apple Pay. We also offer store credit payment options and e-Gift Cards. Please note orders will be dispatched only once we have authorisation from your payment card issuer, irrespective of which method.

Q/ My payment failed, what do I do?

Should one of your recurring subscription payments unfortunately fail, GUSTATORY will attempt to take re-payment from the nominated card after a few days grace, and should this fail again, our customer service team will be in touch with you to help resolve the issue. Please note that no service to which you are subscribed will be fulfilled on your behalf until a payment is successful, and if 5 consecutive payment attempts fail, our system will automatically unsubscribe you.

Q/ May I pay over the phone with you?

Sorry, we're unable to take payment for any amount over the phone.

Q/ I still need help. Can I contact you?

Of course, our customer service team are available by email or Live Chat and are on hand to happily assist you with any enquiry.