Robb Vices is a monthly subscription service that delivers a collection of “storied treasures.” The subscription costs $89.95 per month, and each box comes with incredible products and experiences that have been curated for your enjoyment.
The box is huge! It is the size of a padded laptop shipping box. The large size lets them ship fragile and really expensive stuff with adequate padding.
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Even the padding in the box is exquisite! It has a foam insert that cradles everything inside, and it even has a velvety surface.
It all has a very high-end feel to it, and unboxing everything from the custom case makes you feel a bit like a secret agent selecting your gear.
The story of the premium products is told through a giant, novella-sized booklet with multi-page featurettes on each selection. This month’s box is an ode to Italy.
A short note from Daniel Curtis, Founder of Robb Vices. The styling of the booklet is very sleek and elegant. There is always quite a bit of content, and it is written like a series of magazine articles rather than purely product descriptions, so it makes for interesting reading.
There’s directory of the items included in this curation if you want a quick listing and value.
Everything in my September 2017 Robb Vices box!
Northbound Notebooks A4 Notebook ($65): This flexible notebook is just the right size for a portable sketchpad or notebook.(10 1/2″ x 7 1/4″) – big enough for involved work, but not unwieldy. The cover is soft buffalo leather. It takes wear easily and quickly acquires character.
Our booklet included a code for 20% follow-on orders.
The paper has a lovely feel to it. It is smooth to the touch, but it isn’t shiny, and it has a bit of relief to the surface. It was chosen as an ideal match for the special stylus in this month’s box.
The first refill of paper is free to Robb Vice recipients using the VICE code.
The paper is refillable and movable, held in place by a set of screw locks.
Pininfarina Forever Pininfarina Cambiano Pen ($119): The main item in most Robb Vices boxes tends to come in the most in inconspicuous box.
The design of this stylus was a long road inspired by the idea of timeless writing without need of ink or graphite.
The pen is the culmination of a collaboration between the Italian design firm, NAPKIN, and Palo Farina, a man whose firm has provided design inspiration for Ferrari, Alpha Romeo, and Maserati.
The tip of the pen is constructed of Ethergraf, an alloy that oxidizes the paper it etches, leaving a mark without depositing any media.
The pen includes an elegant stand for desktop display.
It arrives packed within the stand, which can be reused as a carrying and storage case.
The pen and stand have a timeless appeal. I get a bit of a mid-century modern vibe from it.
The body of the Forever Pen was inspired by the Cambiano concept car, an elegant marriage of form and function.
The booklet contains an extensive photoessay devoted to the crafting of the unique Ethergraf tip and the body of the stylus.
The stylus bears the Pininfarina mark on the smooth wooden side panel.
The tip screws on to the stylus. It should never need replacing, however, as it operates by roughing the surface of the paper and catalyzing an oxidation reaction.
Because the stylus doesn’t use ink or a carbon-like medium to make a mark, it writes only on paper! It is nice and light and fits effortlessly in hand. It writes in a light, silvery tone that darkens with added pressure or passes.
Illy Monoarabica Brazil Whole Bean Coffee ($11.99 on card, $16.99 on Amazon): This bean selection is 100% Brazilian-grown arabica beans. It is one of the sources used in their flagship blend.
The booklet has a 20% off coupon for additional Illy orders.
Illy has 380 patents relating to coffee production, processing, preparation, and storage. This is evident in the unique low-pressure packaging. Once opened, the lid can be screwed back on to maintain freshness of the beans.
This coffee is suitable for preparation using any number of methods (I prefer using an Aeropress, as it has the clean flavor of pour-over methods and is really quick to clean up afterward, but it does use more grounds per cup than drip machines and French press). This coffee exemplifies the big, bold flavors of Brazilian beans. It is rich and bold, with a full-body and lots of deep chocolate notes.
Don Ciccio & Figli Cinque Aperitivo ($39.99): This apertif is slightly bitter, and it is best suited for use in drinks calling for Campari, such as a Negroni or an Americano. It is also pleasant consumed straight, as the flavor is less bitter than Campari, and is a bit more fruit-forward.
Don Ciccia & Figli is based in Washington, D.C., but their spirits have a distinctly Italian character (they even have an offering produced from artichokes.
The drink is made by infusing various herbs and roots, chief among them, bitter orange. That flavor is very apparent, as the main flavor note I pick up is an orange oil bitterness. I also pick up notes similar to anise – the overall flavor is actually quite similar to Robitussin.
The recipe dates to 1921. It is colored using cochineal, a bug that produces a carmine red powder when crushed. In this way, the drink remains more authentic than Campari, which gave up the practice years ago.
The color is a ruddy brown that reminds me of the juice of black cherries or Chambord – two liquids you know should be a deep red but take on a very brown coloration.
Our booklet includes a recipe using our Illy coffee and one of Don Ciccio & Figli’s coffee liqueurs.
Terlato Kitchen Tart Cherry & Pistachio Soft Biscotti ($13): Big, slightly gooey chunks of tart cherry and whole pistachios encased in a soft, egg-based biscotti.
Terlato Kitchen Dark Chocolate & Almond Biscotti ($13): This dark chocolate version has a rich cocoa flavor and whole almonds. Some mascarpone cheese in the batter gives a luscious creamy dimension to the flavor.
Made in Illinois, these pay tribute to the classic biscotti, with a significant difference — these are baked only once, so they remain soft and fragrant, not crunchy.
For a more classic biscotti experience, they can be baked again at home. Ours didn’t last long enough to try this out!
The box includes three big slices of each. The slices are proportioned like a soda bread loaf, shorter in length than an ordinary biscotti, but half again as tall as ordinarily seen.
The density of ingredients is really high — it looks much like a torrone slab with all the big whole nuts.
This was a fun curation. I love seeing what they put together to bring each concept to life. The Pininfarina pen was really fascinating — I’ve seen many types of pens, but I’ve never seen an elegant, ink-free stylus for use on paper. The styling is so classic, too — it looks like it came straight from a Mad Men set. This box did a good job of finding a middle ground between offering a single, very expensive item and sending many little things – too few or too many, and it loses the feel of a curation. This had tons of value, thoroughly enjoyable items, and enough things to open and enjoy that it didn’t lose its subscription box character.
The Robb Vices box is certainly one of the best subscription values you can get, particularly if you like luxury. This box came in at a whopping $267 value, which is absolutely amazing! Once again, Robb Vices surprised us by putting an innocuous but very expensive item in the box. I love the curation – everything fits in the theme and is accompanied by a hefty and well-written booklet that heightens the experience and lends context to the selections. Sometimes it takes awhile to enjoy my new items because the book is so engrossing that I find myself reading the whole thing. The curation is ultra high-end and surprisingly affordable, given the value received. Robb Vices is the box I most look forward to seeing arrive, because the quality and value is insane.