Sourcing for coffee beans

Some time back i wrote about buying coffee beans on Amazon. Well, if you did a little more homework, you would have realized that, unless you’re buying coffee beans sold by Amazon themselves, buying on Amazon might mean paying a premium over the seller’s actual pricing to cover the transaction fee Amazon charges the seller. Some of the sellers actually host their own website to sell their products, but also sell on the Amazon platform as an additional sales channel. The customers are the ones paying the additional cost anyway.

For example, this Kona Coffee cost a total of US$38.50 on Amazon, inclusive of shipping, but only US$35 with free shipping on the seller’s own website. By the way, this was a very fragrant coffee, though not that spectacular in terms of taste. On the other hand, the Dark Guatemalan i recommended in my earlier posting is the same price on the seller – Fresh Roasted Coffee’s website. In this case, buying from Amazon presents the advantage of choice to purchase items other than coffee to make up the total of $49 required to get free domestic shipping (whereas you need to buy $35 worth of coffee i.e. at least 4 X 12 oz to get free shipping from Fresh Roasted Coffee). Continue reading Sourcing for coffee beans

READ THIS! Important tip on ezbuy (65daigou) sea freight shipment

All along, i assumed that sea freight shipment is the cheapest way to ship your Taobao stuff from China. If you’re shipping one cubic metre (usually with allowance of up to 500kg) of stuff, that is confirmed the case. If you are using 65daigou however, it may not be the case. The shipping rate for under 30kg (volumetric weight) of goods is $1.30 per 500g, whereas the shipping rate for economy air is only S1.69 per 500g. The difference is only $0.39! That’s not all, i just found out that for sea freight, 7% GST will be applied for ALL parcels ON TOP OF THE SHIPPING FEE (i.e. 65daigou’s shipping fee is included in the calculation of GST), which means that most likely you will end up paying more, for slower shipping!

Without checking the bill carefully, i went ahead and shipped sea freight, and only realized something didn’t seem right after making the payment. I paid $33 to ship $56 worth of goods.. gotta consider more carefully next time. Anyway, i made an enquiry and got the following response. Continue reading READ THIS! Important tip on ezbuy (65daigou) sea freight shipment

How to ship the Anova Precision Cooker to Singapore

When it comes to cooking meat, conventional methods are difficult to master, since, with conventional sources of heat, you can easily overcook areas near the surface while the inside remains undercooked. Sous vide (pronounced soo-veed) attempts to solve this problem. Until recently, Sous Vide equipment was mostly priced out of reach of the general public. I still remember reading an article about an immersion circulator on engadget, but didn’t find out exactly what it was about back then, though it actually felt significant to me (so much so that i remember it). Anyway, this was the article, way back in 2012. Now that i got more serious about cooking, i thought i should give Sous Vide a try, since it supposedly makes restaurant quality food attainable easily.

So how much does the Sous Vide equipment cost? The cheapest Sous Vide equipment comes in the form of a temperature controller that you have to use in tandem with a crock pot. I got a temperature controller on Taobao for 40 Yuan (S$8.70) and it is currently on shipment from China. OR, you can get an immersion circulator, which are US$179 – 199. Unfortunately, for those of us on a 230V grid, the options are quite limited. Nomiku has an unknown shipping date. There is only one other viable option (that doesn’t break the bank) – the Anova Precision Cooker. The 220V version is almost always in stock. They do ship worldwide as well, though someone mentions that the shipping cost to Singapore was something like $69 (either S$ or US$). Continue reading How to ship the Anova Precision Cooker to Singapore

ezbuy (65daigou) review

First off, it is important for me go clarify that this is not a paid review (and I say again that none of the reviews on this site is). 65daigou and many of the third party Taobao parcel forwarders pay bloggers to write reviews. Reading paid reviews always feels distasteful to me and takes away credibility from the author despite how objective they say they are. That said, and I think it’s obvious, the monetisation strategy for this site is plain old advertising, so don’t be surprised if you see a 65daigou advertisement on this page (i hope 65daigou catches the hint).

Prior to this, I never used 65daigou, since it is easier to just use Taobao’s consolidated parcel forwarding. Besides, Taobao’s parcel forwarding goes by actual weight, whereas 65daigou, and practically all third party parcel forwarders go by volumetric weight, which typically costs more, unless your parcel is very compact and dense. My preference is always for actual weight because i think it’s less likely to spring me a nasty surprise. Nevertheless, I think 65daigou’s economy air shipping rate, at $1.99 $1.69 per 0.5kg volumetric weight (basically the industry standard), is quite competitive (for comparison, Taobao’s shipping rate starts at S$6.40 S$5.30 for the first kg, and thereafter S$2.65 S$1.85 per 0.5kg).

While trying to order a video camera, Taobao’s parcel forwarding option was not available, due to the lithium battery in the video camera. I was left with no choice but to go with a third party forwarder. Naturally, I turned to Google to find out which one was better, but was not able to arrive at a conclusive answer. Eventually I went with 65daigou, because they appear to be more established (having the capacity to handle shipments from China, Taiwan and USA says something), and they have an on-time shipment guarantee.

I would say 65daigou’s website is very intuitive to someone who understands the overall concept of buying from Taobao. I was promptly informed about the arrival of my parcel at their China warehouse, way ahead of the delivery status update on Taobao’s website. I made the payment for the shipment via an Internet Banking transfer, and received acknowledgement of my payment within 1.5 hours (they promised to update within a few hours). The shipping to destination happened in less than one day after that. The estimated date of arrival given was one week from shipping date, although the given estimation on the website is 4 to 6 days. Anyway, my parcel arrived in 5 days, so their guideline on the estimated time to ship proves to be accurate. I picked up my parcel (for free) from their warehouse in Seng Kang, which is just minutes from where i stay. The pick-up timing is 6-9pm for this particular warehouse, which is probably convenient for most people. It’s nice that they have a proper warehouse.

65daigou’s Seng Kang Warehouse

Update 12 Feb 2016: I have since tried their ship-for-me service for USA as well. Again, very prompt notice of parcel arrival, both at the US warehouse and arrival in Singapore. The shipping rate is also much cheaper than what i was using before (Flat S$3.99 per 0.5kg vs US$11.80 for first 0.5kg and US$3.25 for subsequent 0.5kg). Gosh! i was paying way too much before!

Update 30 Nov 2017

Ezbuy was in the news recently for their failure to fulfill customers’ buy-for-me orders. Somehow, Taobao wasn’t happy with ezbuy’s way of buying thousands of items per day using just a handful of Taobao accounts. If you’re one of such customer who use ezbuy buy-for-me, i would suggest it’s time you moved on to buying from Taobao yourself. It will save you money in the long run, and it will be easier for you to resolve problems by communicating with the seller directly.

Anyway, i have something good to say about ezbuy. Just today, a parcel was received into the USA warehouse on my behalf, and ezbuy’s staff managed to repack the parcel, reducing the volumetric weight from 2.59kg to 0.66kg! That saves me S$12!