Drift’s new blend

by Steve Watson in May 2023
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Food & drink Photography Travel

Coffee and magazines enjoy a special relationship, so it’s probably not surprising that a magazine about coffee (and travel, and photography, and food, and local culture) might manage to build a loyal readership. The 13th issue of Drift was released last week, reporting from Berlin’s greatest coffee spots, and while it sticks with the familiar format of exploring the city’s coffee culture, there have been some big changes to the production and sale of the magazine.

It’s now made from 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper, and the cover has been upgraded to a lovely, thick, textured stock. That makes for a more expensive product, so they’ve increased the cover price to $30, but they’re not selling this one via their own site – the new issue is only available via subscription and stockists, and the good news for existing subscribers is that there’s no change to the price they pay. I wanted to find out more, so I caught up with editor-in-chief Adam Goldberg to hear the thinking behind the changes.


You’re switching to recycled paper for this issue – has that been a difficult process? Is it more expensive than the paper you were using?

Switching to 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper for this issue has been tough. The upgrade is expensive, especially since we’re also upgrading our cover paper stock. It’s also hard to source and there is a three-month lead time, which led to a delay in printing this issue. However, the benefits make it worthwhile. Our new paper not only supports sustainability, but it also offers better ink absorption with our new UV process: the photos really ‘pop’. It’s very noticeable. We chose a paper with a smooth, matte satin finish and also one that is cross-grain, allowing the magazine to gently open comfortably without breaking the spine. It’s been a difficult transition but we believe it significantly enhances the overall reading experience and aligns with our commitment to sustainability.

The cover price is going up, from $24 to $30. Are you worried about the increase putting people off? Have you done research into what you think you can charge, or is this just what you need to make it work?

The increase in our cover price is our first price adjustment in nearly 10 years of print. We’re always concerned about the potential impact on our readers, but it was necessary due to rising costs and our commitment to using recycled paper. With nearly 20,000 copies printed worldwide, we wanted to minimise our environmental footprint, and switching to recycled paper was a crucial step in that direction. We also decided to honour the original pricing for all our existing subscribers. Fortunately, we haven’t noticed any drop in demand since the change – actually European orders are up. This is simply what we need to charge to maintain the quality of our magazine and remain ad-free. We always try to offer the lowest possible price while ensuring a premium reading experience for our readers.


I’m really interested in the fact that you’re only selling the new issue by subscription – what’s the thinking behind that?

The decision to sell the new issue exclusively by subscription stems from a desire to better support our retail partners and streamline our internal processes as we’re a small team. By adopting this approach, we can more effectively manage orders and achieve greater order predictability between issues. It also allows us to plan our print runs more efficiently, as we can base our projections on the number of subscribers we have. This strategy benefits both our retail partners and our internal operations, ultimately enhancing the overall experience for our readers.

I think it makes loads of sense for publishers to build a following of subscribers, rather than always having to sell individual issues. Can we expect to see more benefits for Drift subscribers in the future?

Absolutely – we have big plans for our subscribers in the future. While we remain committed to our print-only format, we are working on supplementing our print subscription with online access to exclusive content to enhance the overall experience. There’s a lot more in store for our subscribers, so stay tuned for exciting developments ahead – we’re just getting started.


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