I’m a strong believer in using technology to make the things I do every day a little easier. The rise of smartphones and tablets has made the ubiquitous “app” not only popular, but powerful. Apple’s popular “there’s an app for that” campaign is true if my iPhone’s homescreen is any indication, and with the number of interested developers out there, it’s safe to say things are just getting started. So what are the best coffee apps, and what gives them that title?
The apps that this post deals with are those that have to do with making your coffee-making experience a little easier. Some of them have timers, some include information about beans, and some have maps with their shop locations built in. All of them are high-quality software, and I’m happy to have them on my phone. I think you will too.
Intelligentsia coffee has become one of the most popular names in the specialty coffee community, and for good reason. Their beans are fresh, their passion is ever-present, and their experience is nearly untouchable. Check out this great video that shows their passion front-and-center.
When I stumbled onto Intelligentsia’s iPhone app, I was extremely excited. I’ve never seen them put out a product that is less-than-exceptional.
Their app has four main sections with buttons at the bottom of the app: Coffee, Brewing, Brew Timer, and About. The ‘Coffee’ section has their bean offerings separated into “Single Origin,” “Black Cat Espresso,” and “Blends and Decaf Coffee” with beautiful images accompanying bean types. The ‘Brewing’ section has six different brew methods to choose from: Cafe Solo, Pourover, Chemex, Cupping, Siphon Brewer, and French Press. Tapping on any of these will bring up a comprehensive, illustrated, step-by-step brewing guide for that method. The ‘Brew Timer’ section has a timer that uses pre-installed times from the previously mentioned brew methods to help you get your extraction times just right. Unfortunately, it is not customizable. The ‘About’ section includes links to Intelligentsia’s website and twitter page. Check out the slideshow below for screenshots from the app. As you can tell, this app was developed for pre-iPhone 5 screens. Due to this, my app was letterboxed. Hopefully they will come out with an updated version soon.
Chinatown Coffee is located in Chinatown, Washington D.C. I had the pleasure of visiting them last summer, and my experience was very positive. When I found their app, I was thrilled. Their app features a vertical list of options upon launching: World Coffee Map, Menu, Coffee, Brew Methods, and About. ‘World Coffee Map’ has three sub-options: Nearby, Browse, and Submit. ‘Nearby’ pulls up a map with your location, and options to search at varying distances away from you to find a quality, specialty coffee shop. ‘Submit’ brings up links to Email or Tweet to Chinatown about a location you think they should add. ‘Browse’ is the most powerful of the three options, allowing you to pick your continent and city of choice to find great coffee shops. Unfortunately, Boise isn’t a current option (they better fix that!)
The other sections of the app are similar to Intelligentsia’s offerings, but less robust. Their ‘Brew Methods’ only feature Chemex, French Press, and Pour Over. You can also find Chinatown’s menu so that you know exactly what to order next time you’re in the area.
This app was letterboxed as well due to being designed for pre-iPhone 5 screens. Screenshots are below.
Bloom is by far the best of the three apps discussed in this post. While it won’t help you when you’re out on the town looking for coffee shops, it is indispensable when it comes to home brewing. Bloom is exclusively a coffee timer/recipe maker, and it comes with plenty of pre-set options: Aeropress, Beehouse, Bonmac, Chemex, Clever, Eva Solo, French Press, Kalita Wave, Siphon, and V60.
Each preset comes with the recommended coffee/water ratio, bloom time, steep time, and pour time. The best part about Bloom, however, is its ability to be customized. Any of the recipes can be tweaked according to your personal preferences or type of bean. You can make entirely new recipes as well. Then, when you’re ready to start brewing, all you have to do is tap the play button.
Bloom keeps track of those recipes you used recently under the “recent” header for easy access. It’s become my regular go-to app for simple and consistent brewing.
Do you have any coffee apps that you regularly use? Drop me a link in the comment box!
The Coffee Guy