Search the iTunes app store for “coffee” and you get over 700 search results. On my iPhone I have 7 coffee apps installed: 4 of them have similar functionality, 3 of them are unique from the others, and only 1 gets used on a regular basis.
Affogato is designed by Visioa, an iOS development studio based in England. The app is, more or less, an encyclopedia of coffee terms, types, and brews with the relevant descriptions and overviews. There are not many specific details directly related to how to brew a specific type of coffee. Rather, Affogato is primarily an informational app. Though some of the explanations of different drinks include an overview of what that drink’s generic recipe is.
Decaf Sucks is a social network-type of app, where users can (a) post suggestions and reviews of local coffee shops; and (b) find local coffee shops based on other peoples’ reviews.
The idea is great. In reality, however, I have not found any real-life benefit from the app. In part because I am already aware of all the local coffee shops that Decaf Sucks recommends to me here in Kansas City. Also, when I have gone out of town the app has not had enough reviews for where I’m at to be able to recommend a local coffee shop to me. I’ve found that a question to my Twitter followers will yield more suggestions about where to go.
CaféTimer is nothing more than a 4-minute timer with a picture of a French Press. I love the simplicity of it: launch it and the timer starts. But I would love to see a few options to add different timers. I, for one, do not brew a pot of French Press coffee every day. Usually I brew my AeroPress, and sometimes I brew my siphon pot. Neither of these brew for 4 minutes.
And so, if I just want a quick coffee timer, my stove’s timer is usually the quickest. Though I do also use Siri.
The Other Four Coffee Apps
There next 4 coffee apps are very similar to one another, and their primary function is providing brew recipes, timers, and detailed information on how to brew various types of coffee.
When I think of a coffee app, these are the types of apps I think of.
These are coffee apps that tell me the proper ratio of coffee grounds to water for the various types of brewing methods. Ratios are important because with them you can brew 8 ounces of coffee just as successfully as 32 ounces. And if you’re brewing with a new type of method, detailed recipe-based apps like this give you a good starting point.
This app is done in conjunction with the well-known Intelligentsia coffee roasters and brewers. The app features a list of types of coffee beans, detailed instructions for brewing various types of coffee, and a timer.
The list of coffee beans is basically a catalog of their coffee offerings. With information on the bean, the roast, its origin, and more. I’ve never used this part of the app.
The timer is just that. It has pre-determined times based on the type of brew method you are using. You can select your brew method and then start your timer. The brewing methods section is great if you are learning a new way to brew some coffee. The provide detailed and illustrated instructions for Cafe Solo, Pourover, Chemex, Cupping, Siphon, and french press.
If you’re just learning about these various brewing methods and need beginner-level instructions for how to prepare the coffee and the tools, then the Intelligentsia app is a great resource. However, after that initial instruction the app becomes less helpful in providing information for branching out how you brew your coffee.
The app “Coffee Timer!” is a reference app for setting the appropriate ratios of coffee grinds to water and for timing your brew. It comes default with settings for french press, siphon, chemex, popover, AeroPress, and the clever dripper.
Though I like the clever drawings on the front of the app’s home screen I find the actual coffee-brewing page of the app difficult to adjust, especially on the fly as a task that you may be adjusting a little bit every day. But I do like that you can save your own recipes for various types of brewing methods, such as your single-serving french press and your family-sized french press or your extra-strong AeroPress and your regular-strength AeroPress.
Similar to the app “Coffee”, Bloom also offers a list of coffee-to-water ratios and timers for various brew methods. It has the same six methods as “Coffee” does, but with Beehouse instead of AeroPress.
You can add your own recipes to the list, duplicate current ones unto creating your own, and even share those recipies via email, Twitter, or MMS. I created a recipe for AeroPess and Bloom was smart enough to assign an AeroPress-looking icon next to my new recipe. I made up a randomly-named recipe called “Shawn’s Fave” and Bloom gave it a more generic coffee bean icon. I made a recipe for “Drip” and Bloom gave it the same generic bean icon.
I like the simplicity of Bloom’s interface for a specific coffee brewing recipe in that it displays the coffee and water weights, the bloom and brew times, and has a timer ready to go all on the same screen.
However, what I do not like is that all information for custom recipes has to be entered in manually. There is no way to assign a ratio. Rather, you must manually adjust the coffee-to-water recipe. And therefore: (a) you need a different app to figure out the proper ratio: and (b) you can’t adjust your coffee recipe on the fly.
My favorite of the whole lot of coffee apps is Brew Control. As someone who is already familiar with all my coffee tools, I have found Brew Control to be the most easy to use for my daily coffee brewing.
It is extremely simple to set the proper measurements for a brew method. It supports both weight (in grams) and volume (in ounces) for the coffee and the water. My mind thinks in ounces of water, but my scale thinks in weight.
I use Brew Control by first deciding how much coffee I want to brew and setting the water dial in ounces. Then I translate that to grams, and I have my coffee and water ratios. Adjusting the ratio is easy as well.
I don’t know about you, but I brew my coffee a little bit different every day it seems like. And so I highly value the ability to tweak my recipe on the fly.
Brew Control has pre-defined recipes/ratios and timers for AeroPress, Auto drip, Chemex, espresso maker, pour over, french press, and siphon. You cannot add new brew methods to the list, but you can customize each current one as you see fit.
My only nit with Brew Control is the UI design. It could use a bit of polish, but only around the edges because the way the app’s design and functionality are built in is actually quite clever. Or, in other words, I love the dials.
Of all the coffee apps I have, Brew Control is the only one I use regularly. And for coffee nerds with iPhones, this is the only one I’d recommend spending a few bucks on.