New Tonx-like service, but with a twist: your first shipment is a sampler of four different beans with different roast levels, and you get to pick your favorite category for your future shipments.
They sent me a sample. I really liked having the choices, and they did taste noticeably different, but none swayed me from my home-roasting (mostly because I’m a picky control freak). Despite the hopelessness of my satisfaction with other people’s roasts, I can see a lot of people liking this service. The packaging and website are also very nicely done, with liberal but well-executed use of Brooklyn-Portland fashion.
One nitpick that’s not unique to Driftaway: I strongly disagree with the current common wisdom among many specialty roasters that Kenyas should be lightly roasted. Most Kenya beans — my favorite origin and my most frequently roasted by far — have a strong tartness and a deep body. Light roasts amplify the tartness and mute the body, yielding an overly sour cup. Bringing the roast darker (I like a Full City) brings out the complex body, adds a touch of dark-roast flavor, and reduces the sourness from the dominant flavor to a nice, tart accent. The ability to reliably strike that balance — darkness, complexity, and a tart accent — is what makes Kenyas so great.