yes plz coffee with kalita wave
Review

Yes Plz: Is Tonx’ New Coffee Club Worth Trying?

Tonx’ previous coffee business was bought by Blue Bottle. Now he’s back with a fiercely indie coffee club.

Photo of author

Noah Nighswonger

Full time barista in Dallas, Texas. Part time coffee reviewer

Yes Plz. That’s the concise, yet promising name of a coffee subscription that we’re going to take a close look at today.

Sumi Ali and Tony Konecny (better known as Tonx) are the brains behind the outfit, and they are pretty well-known figures in the coffee scene in Los Angeles.

Tonx has been involved in specialty coffee for ages. In 2001 he began as a barista in Seattle and eventually became head of Intelligentsia’s retail and roasting program. He started his own company, Tonx Coffee in 2011. 

Sumi has had a long run of being a barista and creating community in the shops he has been a part of. He worked with Condesa in Atlanta and Intelligentsia in Los Angeles, before getting hired by Tonx Coffee. 

Eventually Tonx was acquired by Blue Bottle, who back then had deep pockets filled with venture capital. 

A few years went by but it wasn’t long before the two reunited to create a new coffee venture. 

Blends only

Yes Plz aims to be different, and I guess they succeed in that: Instead of offering a huge selection, they only focus on one release each week

You can find yourself receiving a single origin or a blend. Yes Plz is envisioned as a coffee club/subscription, however, it’s still possible to also make a one-time purchase, in case you want to see what the fuss is about.

Their subscription service is like several others where you can choose the frequency and amount of coffee you’ll be receiving. 

One goal that Yes Plz tries to aim for is to ensure “a beautiful brew where any preparation method you choose will find a big bullseye to hit.” I put that in quotes because it’s what Sumi and Tonx straightforwardly say in their welcome package.

The package included: a 12oz bag of coffee, along with a sticker, and some info cards.

The most surprising (but cool) thing was that there was also a QR code on one of the cards, leading to a music playlist on either Spotify or Apple Music.

Music and coffee? 

Apparently there’s a new curated playlist available every week. It consists of songs listened to while that particular blend has been developed and roasted.

The point is to listen to the playlist while you brew that coffee. The playlists are not exhaustingly long. They are just the right length of time – about the same time it takes to brew and enjoy a medium-sized Chemex on a slow sunday afternoon.

Here’s an example of a Yes Plz playlist👇

If you have worked in a coffee shop, you would know that music is so vital to the life of the shop itself. The music chosen is typically a reflection of the barista on-bar because it allows them to get in a flow and be efficient while brewing.

It was interesting to get a deeper sense of what Yes Plz is vibing to when roasting their coffee. It elevated the experience to a level that I have not experienced with other roasters. 

The Nickel Bag?

Okay, but we get that Tonx and Ali are cool guys with great taste in music. What about the coffee itself?

The bag that I received was “release #139,” named the Nickel Bag. It was a blend of five different coffees. Yes, you read that right; 5 (!) different beans.

I have never come across a blend with that many different origins before. The five different origins were: Columbia, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, and Ethiopia. 

There were no specific notes; instead, a description was provided: “subtle bursts of fruit, and a giant chocolate-covered candy bar sweetness.” 

On the info card, it also stated: “vibrant and versatile in every brew method.”

So, I put that to the test and brewed this coffee with a bunch of different methods.

Cupping is an excellent way to test a new coffee and search for its full potential.

Cupping: 

● First Sip: Gala Apple 

● As it cooled, the gala apple taste remained with hints of ripe cherry coming through 

● At the end; the cherry taste remained with milk chocolate coming in to smooth out the cupping. 

Espresso:

● To clarify, I was only given a 12oz bag of coffee, so I did not want to waste coffee trying to fully dial in the espresso. The main point of trying that brew method was to test the coffee’s ability to stay consistent. 

● 2:1 ratio 

● 18 grams in 

● 36 grams out 

The espresso was pretty bright and acidic, with notes landing in the realm of citrus fruit: lemon and lime, to be exact. The espresso that I pulled seemed a bit underdeveloped and tasted vegetal, but I must say that is on my part, not necessarily the coffee itself. If I had enough coffee to play with, I would have pulled a longer shot to allow the coffee to develop and let other notes come through. 

V60: 

● 16:1 ratio 

● 22 grams in 

● 350 grams of water out 

● 3:15 brew time 

● After the bloom I did a continuous pour 

Many of the notes were muted when it was hot. As the coffee began to cool, I could taste almond, lemon zest, and orange juice. 

Overall assesment

I also tried similar recipes with the Kalita Wave and Chemex, and once again it worked out beautifully. This shows that it’s easy to be consistent with the blend no matter the brew method. 

In my last article, I mentioned that it is good practice to try and develop your palate. An excellent way to do that is to try different apples. If you were to do that, think about two factors: sweetness and acidity.

Sweetness creates a sugary taste that can cause a mushy bite. Acidity creates sharp and crisp bites. Gala apples are more on the sweeter side and can sometimes suffer from a mushy mouthfeel when eaten. That is why I was able to be so specific with that tasting note I mentioned. The coffee exhibited those qualities that my palate was familiar with. 

I could have just mentioned nutty when tasting the coffee, however, one characteristic stood out that reminded me of an almond. When you eat a raw almond, the skin can sometimes have a drying effect on the mouth. So when tasting the coffee, it tasted like an almond in a way 

that was nutty, and when it hit the front of my mouth, it had a drying effect but still spread evenly throughout my mouth for a balanced feel. 

The tasting note card did mention citrus fruits, and lemon shone through on that point. 

However, with the shot of espresso that I pulled, I am confident that if I could develop the shot a little more, there would have been nutty and apple notes, with the evidence given from the other methods. 

Downsides?

There was only one downside for me in this whole experience. I would have hoped for more information about the coffee itself.

Typically when you buy coffees from a subscription service, you get all the information you could ever want. Since this blend had five different coffees, it would have been too much to have information on each country, farm, varietal, so I understand why it did not happen.

However, I would have loved to know the percentages of each origin and the process of each coffee, at the very least. 

It tasted excellent, no matter the brew method

Yes plz – the Verdict

Yes Plz is a coffee company that you should try, without a doubt. 

When you are brewing at home, it is always an interesting balance to try and have a consistent flow of coffee in your house where you are not running out and not having too much where you end up wasting money. 

With that in mind, if you were to go all-in on this company, I would choose to receive coffee every week at the smallest amount. I propose that frequency because since they only focus on one release a week, it seems it would make sense that you would want to experience every drop they have as a consumer. 

The question that needs to be addressed is: should home coffee drinkers even get involved with blends? My answer: absolutely yes! If you are truly passionate about coffee, you should be willing to work with a blend. 

Blends, if done horribly, can indeed be a mess to work with. On the other hand, when you work with a good one, it is easy to experience and enjoy. If you have had plenty of chances to drink single origins and know what to expect from a cup as far as notes go, then trying a blend should be a fun challenge for you. 

When working with a blend, you can try different recipes to try and draw out different characteristics and see which origins are shining through each time. 

Release 139 was a great blend and a joy to work with. The packaging was very minimal in a good way. Free stickers are always great marketing tools that are also fun. It is a huge plus that the bag is resealable, an even bigger plus that everything is recyclable. 

Another reason I’m left with a positive impression of Yes Plz is because they value customer service. On their welcome card, it says “if you have any questions, shoot us an email,” so I did.

I asked about any tips or specific recipes for the Nickel Bag, and Tonx shared a thorough response, including water temperature, brew time, brew ratio, and grind size. 

When a company takes the time to interact with its consumers, it wins me over. Not only did they provide an excellent product and experience, but they took time out of their day to help me out. 

In a big sea of coffee subscriptions, Yes Plz is still worth a try.

Check out Yes Plz and get a free coffee sample here