TONX: New, subscription-based "artisanal coffee" by mail

My friend and fellow coffee-lover Tony Konecny, aka @tonx, has launched a cool new business with co-founder Nikolaus Bauman at For $35 a month, they'll ship you a 12-oz bag every two weeks of their favorite beans fresh-roasted (like, within the last few days). That's it. You don't have to drive anywhere or remember much or make any decisions.

They're doing other interesting things with email alerts and flash-sales via Twitter, but all I care about is that Tony is obsessed with coffee like a record store nerd is with vinyl. You can read his blog to get inside his head and learn more about the nuances of coffee production, selection, roasting, and brewing, and cupping, and on and on —or not. Me, I trust the guy's taste. I just want really good coffee. Send me the beans.

I met up with Tony in Los Angeles yesterday, and got a bag of the current offering. He roasted it two days ago. I brewed some this morning. It was heaven. These were from La Antigua, Guatemala, and a finca I've visited in person before. I felt like I was back in Guate, and could taste the air and flowers and caramel-colored earth in the beans. They were fresh and exquisitely crafted.

I will be subscribing today.

(photo by tonx)


  1. Geekdom at its finest: taking something so simple and obsessing over it to the point you’re nearly driven to tears of emotion.

    I may not look at coffee as anything but a drug delivery system, but more power to the geeks!

    1. This is a line of commentry that comes up every time we blog about things that cost money. 

      Here is my canned reply: for some people, a given price is too much. That is okay. For others, it will be an affordable extravagance. That is also okay.

      I am looking at his price, and other sources of similar quality beans (like Intelligentsia, which I love), and I am at the conclusion that it is a reasonable price. 

      Note that the fee includes shipping costs.

  2. A lot of smaller roasteries will be quite glad to ship you a pound or 5 at much better rates. I like Barrington Coffee Roastng and Esselon (for my area, at least, google them. Yum.). I think the Thanksgiving Coffee Co. used to do a lb of the month club, 

    I can also see the adventure in what he’s offering, and I wish him well in his geekery!

    1. You can buy coffee at lower and higher prices, from sources that offer low, medium, and high quality product. As I’ve noted above, Tonx’s beans are amazing, and the price includes shipping. Check it out if you want, and don’t if you don’t.

      1. absolutely! I have been doing something similar for years, by grabbing pounds wherever I come across them, with the time I have to do so. Not everyone does, as I said, I see the adventure in this, too! no criticism expressed nor implied.

  3. For what it’s worth, you can buy men’s underwear for $60 each. I do believe it’s probably the most comfortable underwear money can buy. But you can’t/won’t share it with anybody. You can talk about it but you can’t drop trou just anywhere to prove it. Coffee you can share or just wave under someones nose to appear part of a caffeinigentsia.

  4. I think what bothers me more than the price is the subscription model; lumping everyone in to getting  12oz every two weeks may fit many but it doesn’t fit me. It seems likely to lead to a lot of waste, or a lot of jonesing, and either way a lot of coffee that is probably just a little too old to be truly gourmet. And while I like to be exposed to new coffees, I also like choice. This model is akin to Netflix shipping you a movie a week, and them choosing the title. Maybe if I lived in the middle of nowhere and couldn’t get a decent bean locally, I might choose something like this, but I’d rather buy a half pound every week at the local bean store and get what I want.

    1. I think the idea here is like going to a restaurant where they only serve omakase. 

      The chef picks something for you, you trust the chef and enjoy giving up control to a great artist, and you know you are gonna dig being part of the experience.

      You don’t always want to eat omakase, but it’s a fun model in this case. 

      1. I get it. It’s going to be great for some, but not for me. But that’s what makes the internet great; for just about any fetish there is not only a website but a subscription based business to service it!

  5. There’s so many good choices now, I don’t see the point of a subscription until you’ve first sampled quite a few out there and committed to some specific styles you like.

    As a big wine enthusiast as well, I’m very discriminatory about the wines I try from a winemaker before I make a more “committed” leap to a membership/subscription, and coffee is no different.

    The point being that it’s best to get to know your likes first. I’ve killed off a lot of wine memberships that died on the vine not long after I signed up. Life’s to short to immediately commit to coffees you could be doing far better with for your own taste preferences.

    The subscription-only model is the most convenient for Tonx, but not necessarily for his customers.

  6. Actually, this is a pretty dang good price for the quantity and service offered.  24 ounces (that’s a pound and a half) of good coffee can cost that much just by itself, not to mention the shipping, low volume, and the selection service.  Hell, Gevalia, which is rot gut that people only drink because it comes with a “free” coffee maker, is $29.20 per 24 ounces, shipped.  And I would NOT consider that on par with any coffee that would taste like “heaven.”  The best coffee I’ve ever had was fresh picked and roasted in Hawaii at a Buddhist temple and cost $35/pound.  It was worth every penny.  I’ve tried to buy more for three years since and their crop hasn’t been sufficient to resell.  But damn it was good coffee.  [sigh]

    1. Hahaha, is gelavia still around?
      I knew someone that drank that crap.  I said, dude, that is some nasty coffee (he liked the flavored stuff, which is even more crap) and he said, “hey, I got a free coffeemaker.”  Great, you got a 12 dollar drip machine for the pleasure of spending  4 times as much per pound for shitty beans.
      This looks interesting, I might have to check it out for a while.  I like to try different things, but 12 ounces will NOT last us 2 weeks for sure. :)

  7. I guess, since you can cancel any time, it’s worth a shot, just to see if you like what they’ve got to offer or not. I was being snarky because I can afford to: NYC has plenty of great coffee retailers. I can get Intelligentsia, Stumptown, Blue Bottle (just to name the big hotshots) for around $15 / 12oz bag, and then there are tons of even smaller roasters. My CSA even has an optional share for fair trade, small batch locally roasted coffee. (just signed up)

  8. I use cheap stuff most of the time and keep some high quality beans around for when I really need it.

    What you need is a cup of my java. (Not particulary relevant clip from Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid)

  9. The subscription model for coffee is actually quite old; both Jewel Tea and A&P home-delivered coffee by horse-drawn wagon back in the late 19th century.

  10. I like Coffee Bean Direct on Amazon ($40 for five lbs), but might check out Barrington Coffee Roastng and Esselon.  I guess I could pay more and get some beans eaten and pooped out by a wooly mammoth, or something like that, but I’m cool with the six bean espresso roast from Amazon.  I’ll save my luxury dollars for some good bourbon.  

  11. I can say from experience that every one of Tony’s batches that I’ve tried has been better than anything I’ve had from Intelligentsia or Stumptown. Obviously everybody’s got their limits as far as what they’re willing to spend on their indulgences but Tonx’s coffees have always seemed worth every penny to me. They’re terrific and certainly worth trying for yourselves.

    1. Ryan,

      your photo is featured prominently on the site, without a caption or photog credit there. I did not know.

      The best way to alert us to things like this is generally to send the author, me, an email. Not in public comments as if we’re stealing something or omitting credit knowingly. 

      I will change the post now.

  12. There’s a lot of coffee subscription services out there. I haven’t tried Tonx Coffee (yet!) but it does seem a bit more expensive than similar services.

  13. I like to buy my coffee by the ounce, fully prepared, by the guy I sit next to when I’m at the coffee shop.  I like to know his back story. How he got that piece of titanium in his shoulder.  What he thinks about our local politicians.

    Do I pay good money to get caffeinated at my house, alone, before I go to work, on expensive coffee from non-local roasters?  No.  Nor should any one else. I’ll take my locally roasted bean and my fancy shmancey grinder and my bodum and rock out on some run of the mill coffee and enjoy every minute of it.

    Buying coffee by the fluid ounce helps my local economy.  Helping my local economy is a good thing and I try to bend my habits so that they enforce that behavior, rather than acting like the flavor of my coffee holds any importance in my life over the things that actually matter to me, like supporting local cafes, local baristas, local roasters, local distribution networks, local coffee culture, and local culture.

  14. No mention of being fair trade, organic, etc.  If I’m going to pay for good coffee I want to also know it’s not doing more harm than good.

    1. I’m a very small coffee roaster. Fair Trade, Organic, etc make people feel warm and fuzzy, but the reality is 1) requiring some dude who’s been growing coffee with pride for 5 generations to pay $10-20k for organic certification, so the gringo can feel officially warm and fuzzy, when in fact the coffee has been grown organically forever, is crazy. $20k pays a lot of pickers a pay raise, or builds a school for the pickers kids, or a hospital. 

      2) I know I’m in it for the best coffee. Not ‘the best organic coffee’, not ‘the best shade grown coffee’, but ‘the best coffee period’. If it’s organic or fair trade, fine. Interestingly enough, when you buy at the very top level of coffee, most of it is freaking expensive. Much of it is direct trade (cutting out money-grubbing middle men, and putting more money in the growers pockets). A lot is even inflated artificially to ensure the grower will see the value in putting the extra care and effort in next year, and giving us the best crop he can coax from the bush. For example, I bought Rwanda from a female-only co-op. If you know the history of Rwanda, you’ll know this is an amazing thing. I was proud to do so, despite it’s lack of any ‘green’ certification whatsoever. 

      3) Most of us give back, in one way or another. I donate a small amount per pound to the International Medical Corps. 

      So, drink what you like, how you like it. I personally appreciate Tonx’ approach, which isn’t dissimilar from mine. Buy good coffee!

  15. It’s a neat business for customers with more money than time; I hope Tonx does well.  That said, at $400+ a year you could purchase a good countertop roaster and twenty pounds of  assorted green beans from Sweet Marias and tweak your coffee to your own tastes.  It requires a little practice but once you’ve got it down, roasting a batch of coffee takes around ten minutes.  

  16. I can also say, from experience, that coffee I have had from Tony has been some of the best I have ever had in my life.

  17. I still find the word “artisanal” weird. And yes, I need more than 24 Oz a month. What about people drinking decaf? 

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