Buying Coffee Online (in Canada)

It almost feels like a requirement for being a software engineer, a love affair with “the finest organic suspension ever devised.” (Bonus points if anyone recognizes that quote without asking Google.) Coffee, or at least good coffee, isn’t easy to come by here and necessitates me driving at least 45 minutes into the city (both ways) to fetch anything beyond Folgers, Maxwell House or Tim Horton’s. This being the internet age, I decided it was time to look into which online sellers would ship their aromatic wares to the country where the long and cold winters make coffee an establishment.

The hunt for the promise of delivered-to-the-door coffee between the Canadian coasts wasn’t an easy one. An annoying number of sellers focus on the United States while leaving Canada alone and decaffeinated. Shipping is a large cost affecting price, and so was taken into account as well. One factor that didn’t apply was taxes, since coffee is tax free in Canada, but many merchants still charged tax on shipping. Starbucks also incorrectly applies tax to all its orders, with purchasers needing to call to have the tax refunded.

I’ve sorted all the shops here by the “shipped kg.” I calculated it by buying enough coffee to get over 1 kilogram (or to activate a free shipping deal or max out a shipping tier, if applicable), then scaling the price down to what 1 kg actually cost for the shipment, letting all stores have a level playing field. The price is also based of the cheapest available coffee from each seller, unless otherwise noted. I’ve obviously not been able to try all these coffees, so for this comparison the only factors will be the price and type of product with no account given for taste (because taste is subjective anyways). Well, I guess I can say I detest Maxwell House. I must have some opinions, right?

Workin’ on the rollback

I placed Walmart (formerly called Wal-Mart, let us have a moment of silence for the hyphen) in a class of its own as the keeper of the lowest cost coffee I was able to find. For that reason Walmart is the comparison for just buying cheap can coffee online or in-store that the rest of the merchants will be compared against for sheer thrift. That said, their cheapest coffee is the dreaded Maxwell House followed closely by Folgers. Chances are if you’re looking to order coffee online you’re looking for something above and beyond the hum-drum of grocery store coffees, and about the most exquisite thing Walmart offers online (and not those expensive barely-ok-cups) is Folgers Flavours coffee. [twocol_one]Walmart Stores
$8.62/kg Cheapest coffee (Maxwell House)
$16.78/kg Folgers Flavours [/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]Walmart.ca (shipped*)
$16.14/kg Cheapest coffee (Maxwell House)
$27.82/kg Folgers Flavours [/twocol_one_last]

* Some areas might get free shipping, then the online and retail prices would be the same.[hr]

Familiar faces

If you’re used to buying your caffeine buzz by the prepared cup from a local store, you might be able to buy your fix online and delivered to your door. Of course, if you’re close to one of these chains you’re going to almost always be better off just buying coffee from their retail outlets — once again the shipping can put a damper on your percolator.

[twocol_one]Starbucks $17.48/kg (Whole Bean)
Free shipping starts at $75 [/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]Tim Horton’s $28.34/kg[/twocol_one_last][twocol_one]Timothy’s $29.95/kg
Free shipping starts at $69[/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]Van Houtte $29.97/kg
Free shipping starts at $45[/twocol_one_last][hr]

Close to home, far from mind

After leaving the familiar territory of the well-known brands we enter the leagues of those who operate (still within Canada) with less renown, but who still might offer us a cup of something special. Some of these companies have their marketing hooks based firmly in their causes or in their sources. Birds and Beans, for example, supports bird-friendly causes.

[twocol_one]Social Coffee $35.26/kg (People’s Daily)
Free shipping starts at $25 [/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]Birds and Beans $35.71/kg[/twocol_one_last][twocol_one]Detour Coffee $45.27/kg (Punch Buggy)
Flat rate shipping: $10/4lb[/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]Coffee Tree $46.32/kg
Only delivers within the GTA[/twocol_one_last][twocol_one]Transcend Coffee $52.89/kg
Free shipping starts at $35[/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]JJ Bean Coffee $53.53/kg[/twocol_one_last][hr]

Distant lands

Nearer the end of our quest we look to those lavish troves of coffee south of the border, piling up and begging to be shipped through the long and arduous journey of grimy postal worker hands to your snow-covered doorstep. Since coffee isn’t taxable in Canada, tax and duty are unlikely concerns for cross-border brew shopping, shipping is more likely to be your nemesis (nemesii?). Of all the options, Green Mountain was closest to the “at-home” mega brand in pricing and had the widest range of flavored coffees.

[twocol_one]Peet’s $47.39/kg
As low as $39.40 based on promotions and quantity.[/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]Coffees of Hawaii $41.67/kg[/twocol_one_last][twocol_one]Green Mountain Coffee $46.98/kg
Flat rate shipping: $19.50 ($34.25/kg for 3KG)[/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]Intelligentsia Coffee $68.97/kg
Shipping: $10/4lb[/twocol_one_last][hr]

The caffeinated and lazy

Lastly, there are a couple of coffee subscription services in the US that will also deliver to Canada (there were more, but, they were all higher in price than even craft and I didn’t feel the need to list them). I emailed Tonx customer service to have them verify that the total cost is the same if you live in the US or Canada, and they definitely appeared to be the more well-organized of the two.

[twocol_one]Tonx $55.83/kg
Bi-weekly subscription: $24/mth
24oz/mth total[/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]Craft Coffee $108.69/kg
Monthly subscription: $36.99/mth
12oz/mth total[/twocol_one_last][hr]

Buzzing conclusion

I’m sure there are some I missed here, and all the prices are bound to flux as time goes on (they were correct as of March 1, 2013 when this compilation was begun). If you have a different roaster you use or want to share a cool deal, post it in the comments below as well as any reviews of the places I’ve listed. The only coffee I’ve ordered online and tried personally was the Starbucks Kenya blend (which was awesome). Remember to research any merchant before you buy from them online!

5 Comments
  1. March 26, 2013
    • March 26, 2013
  2. April 19, 2013
    • April 21, 2013
  3. February 25, 2014

Leave a Reply