Use links below to quickly jump to FAQ sections.
Our Subscription Service
*Q: May I customize a subscription to be exactly how I want it?
A: Yes, you may! Please see our subscription page for more information.
*Q: May I buy a subscription as a gift for someone else?
A: Yes. This qualifies as a custom subscription, but will have the same pricing as our other subscription options. Please call us, as the shipping, payment and packaging options are slightly different.
Buying from our Store
Q: Why don’t you sell bags larger than one pound?
A: Coffee is best when freshest. Most at home brewers will go through 12-16 ounces in a week depending on the size and consumption levels of the household. We typically only sell 5-pound bags to cafes that will use the entire bag within a few days.
Q: I bought your coffee in the past that I loved, but now I don’t see the same one on your website. Where did it go?
A: We only buy and roast what’s in season, so you probably bought coffee in another season. Our single origin offerings rotate and change fairly often. Continue to check back and pay attention to our “Just Arrived” section. If you’re looking for something specific and can’t find it, email us at email@example.com and we will tell you if we plan to carry it.
Shipping & Returns
Q: How fresh is the coffee I’m ordering when I receive it?
A: Freshness is our priority, so we ship on the same day we roast. When you receive your coffee, you will always know when it was roasted because each bag is labeled with the roast date. Depending on where you live, you will receive your coffee between 2-4 business days from the roast date. Because coffee needs to rest before brewing, you will receive your coffee at its optimal brewing maturity.
Q: Do you offer free shipping?
A: All of our subscription packages offer free shipping. On non-subscription coffee orders of at least four pounds, we offer free domestic USPS Priority Mail shipping.
Q: Is my package insured?
A: All USPS Priority packages are insured automatically for $50. If the value of your package is over $50, the shipping insurance is included in your shipping charge.
Q: Will you grind my coffee for me? I don’t have a home grinder.
A: No. We are ever so sorry, but we do not to pre-grind coffee for any service we provide. If you don’t have a home grinder, you might consider purchasing one (you can buy a high-quality model here, or some kitchen stores offer less expensive, less robust grinders). In many of our subscription packages, we offer a very high performance grinder as a gift with purchase. Check out our subscriptions.
Q: Do you ship outside of the continental U.S.?
A: We ship anywhere in the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska. Additional rates may apply to those outside of the continental U.S. We do not ship internationally.
Q: May I return my coffee if I don’t like it?
A: We do not accept coffee returns. If your order is not what you expected, contact us and we will rectify the situation. If you do not like the coffee you ordered, contact us and we will work with you to find a solution. Please do not ship coffee back to True North unless we request you to do so.
Q: May I return equipment?
A: If your equipment arrives broken, or is not what you expected, you may return it unused. Once we receive the returned item, we will refund your original payment. We will refund our standard shipping costs on defective items, only. If your item malfunctions during use, contact us and we will find a solution.
Preparing & Serving Great Tasting Coffee at Home
*Q: What kind of water is best for preparing a great tasting cup of coffee?
A: Coffee is 98%-99% water, so it’s a critical element. Use water that's chlorine free, but still contains dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium (coffee LOVES minerals). Bottled water labeled “filtered” or “spring” should have these characteristics. Bottled water labeled “distilled” has had the minerals removed, so it’s a poor choice. Filter pitchers and under-sink canister systems sold by Brita, Everpure and Pentek all offer excellent solutions for filtering your drinking water at home.
Q: When is the optimal time to drink my coffee based on the roast date?
A: The prime time for brewing our coffee is between 3-7 days from the roast date. This allows time for the beans to rest before brewing. You can brew the beans later than seven days and the coffee will still taste wonderful, but one week is the window for optimum freshness. For espresso we recommend brewing between 5-12 days from the roast date. Espresso typically needs more time to rest and release CO2 compared to coffee brewed manually.
Q: Will my whole bean coffee go bad?
A: Yes and no. Two weeks after the roast date, the coffee will begin to taste noticeably stale, especially if the airtight packaging has been opened. If you keep your coffee in an airtight container away from heat and moisture, it will stay fresher longer. Ground coffee goes stale in minutes, even when kept in an airtight container. We HIGHLY recommend you grind what you need immediately before brewing, and not more than three minutes before.
Q: My coffee tastes watery/weak. What should I do differently?
A: Make sure you’re using the correct ratio of coffee to water. We recommend one part coffee to 16-18 parts water (by weight). For example, if you want to brew a 10-ounce cup of coffee (approx 300g), you will want to use between 16-19 grams of coffee. As a rule of thumb, if your coffee is too weak, use more coffee and/or less water during brewing. If your ratio of coffee to water is within the recommended range, make the grind finer. Using a burr grinder (vs. a blade grinder typically found in kitchen store models) can make your grounds a more consistent size, contributing to a richer, stronger, and more flavorful cup.
Q: Why does brewed coffee and espresso often taste better when made in a café?
A: Cafés typically use filtered water, which contributes greatly to the clean taste of their brewed coffee and espresso. They also use professional grade espresso machines, burr grinders which produce grounds of a consistent size, optimal for brewing and trained baristas. Pulling espresso shots can be done well at home, however it takes patience and practice.
Q: Do you have brewing instructions? I want to learn a new recipe or learn how to use my equipment.
A: Yes. See our Brew Guides to view our step-by-step guides for our preferred brewing methods.
Q: What do I need to get started brewing coffee at home?
A: You will need three basic pieces of equipment to brew delicious coffee at home: Brew method (see the question below on choosing your brew method for more info) Grinder (grinding your coffee immediately before brewing is a step often overlooked by home brewers, but will drastically improve the taste of your brew. Check out some great at-home grinder options) Scale (also often overlooked by home brewers, a simple gram scale allows you to brew your coffee with the exact right proportions, vastly improving the taste and eliminating waste.) Some additional tools include: filtered water, timer, water kettle.
Q: What brewing method is the best?
A: Your brewing method of choice will always depend on your lifestyle and your coffee ritual. Furthermore, your preferred method will likely change over time as you try new coffees and equipment. Here are some hints: If you want a simple method that produces a clean cup, try pourover (or Chemex if you want to brew for two or more people at once) If you’re on the go, or need your coffee to brew itself while you get ready to run out the door, try the Bonavita Coffee Brewer. If you enjoy an intense, strong, yet clean cup, try the Aeropress.
Q: What coffee should I buy for my mom?
A: Stacya’s Blend. It is probably our most versatile blend, offering appealing notes of caramel and chocolate. It can be brewed using just about any brewing method, so no guesswork necessary.
Q: The coffee I bought tastes really fruity. Why?
A: Fruit notes occur in many different coffee varietals, but often in African and several Central American coffees. A coffee’s fruitiness can be exaggerated by its processing method. For example, the dry or natural process leaves the fruit on the seed for longer, allowing the seed (or bean) to absorb more of the fruity flavor. Some of our coffees are processed in this way. To find these coffees look for the words "Natural Processed" or "Dry Processed" under the coffee specifications section for each coffee.
Q: How/where should I store my coffee?
A: Store your whole beans in an airtight container away from light and heat. Do not store your beans in the freezer or fridge; room temperature is best.
Serving Coffee from True North at your Cafe, Restaurant or Other Business
*Q: I want to serve True North at my business, how do I get started?
A: First of all, that’s exciting! Thank you. Our contact page has a form you can complete and send to us. We’ll respond quickly. If you just can't wait, we understand that, too, so please feel free to call our roastery at 206-706-4131, or Maine Hofius on her cell phone at 206-999-9117.
Our Sourcing, Buying & Roasting Practices
*Q: Is your coffee Fair Trade?
A: No, but we pay well above Fair Trade prices for all the coffee we buy.
*Q: Is your coffee organic?
A: Some of the coffees we buy may be organic, if they happen to have elements of a specific flavor profile that we’re looking for. However, True North does not hold an Organic Certification with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, so our coffees are not “certified organic.”
*Q: Is your decaf made with chemicals?
*Q: Is there caffeine in decaf coffee?
A: Yes, but a very small amount; decaf coffees range from between 97% and 99% caffeine free.
*Q: Is True North hiring at this time?
A: No, not at this time. Open positions will be posted on our web-site. Please check back from time to time.
*Q: Does True North own or operate its own café?
A: No, we’ve never had a cafe (although the idea comes up in conversation from time to time). We do, however, supply numerous cafes, restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores with our coffee. Click here for a list of locations selling our whole bean coffee.