Coffee roaster Tony Konecny, better known by his nickname Tonx, had his first run at a mail-order, subscription-based coffee service play out in a way most people would see as success. Three years after its founding, his angel- and seed-stage-funded startup, Tonx Coffee, was bought out by Blue Bottle Coffee, which itself got gobbled up by Nestlé in 2017. At the time of its acquisition, the company was doing several million in annual sales and had been talking to venture-capital firms about a Series A investment.
Now Konecny is gearing up for his second pass at mail-order coffee. His new outing, Yes Plz, still focuses on sourcing green beans from growers and roasting them to demanding specifications in his own roasting equipment with his business partner, Sumi Ali. However, instead of Tonx Coffee’s exclusive single-origin coffee–a term defining anything from one harvest on a particular field on a farm up to a regional cooperative’s collectively processed output–Yes Plz will will offer a blend of several high-quality beans. Konecny says this will let the company better shape flavor and manage inventory and growth, while also discouraging what he thinks can be an excessive focus on provenance and wine-review-like sobriquets among coffee purists. Rather than offer just an every-other-week subscription with automatic renewals, the new operation will also offer one-off purchases and varying schedules and amounts.
I was a Tonx subscriber before they sold to Blue Bottle and have been using Blue Bottle ever since. Their service has not been as good recently and they are expensive, so I have been thinking of finding another service to try.
Yes Plz1 looks like it will be exactly what I was looking for. They are launching with a Kickstarter, but I get the impression that they will be launching regardless of whether or not the Kickstarter is successful. Since it hit 50% funded in the first day, it looks like it will be successful.
There are a few differences between this and the original Tonx subscription:
– It will be a blend instead of single origin. They say this is so they can control flavor and not be snobby, but I suspect that is has more to do with keeping costs down. I never notice the differences between different origin countries much, so I’m fine with this.
– There will be more control over timeframes. Before, they just shipped every two weeks. Customers will now have options for weekly, fortnightly, every third week, and monthly. I use a fortnightly schedule with Blue Bottle now and supplement with local coffee. I may bump it up a bit with Yes Plz.
Unlike most Kickstarter projects, it looks like they are ready to launch quickly. They estimate that the first shipment will go out in July. If you are interested, you can find out more at their website or at Kickstarter.
- It is too bad that they could not reuse the Tonx name. It is much better than Yes Plz Coffee. Oh well. ↩