The London Coffee Guide is pretty well recognised as the premium list of coffee shops in London. Published annually, the 2013 edition came out a couple of weeks ago, along with, for the first time, an app. As a promotion, in connection with UK Coffee Week, the app is £1.49 (saving you a massive 50 pence toward your next coffee). There are other app offerings for less, so I downloaded it to see if it was worth the extra wonga. Currently iPhone only.
The first thing that strikes you about the app is how smooth it is. The design is clean and beautiful, as well as intuitive. Flicking through the map, and finding your own, small existence amongst the multitude of coffee houses is easy. As is standard with most London coffee apps, you can choose to view in list mode or map mode, and sort coffee shops by distance to your location. So far, not so different from other apps.
But where this app really shines is by channeling the immense wealth of well-researched material into a small, bite-size chunk. Each coffee shop is ranked, and a detailed description of everything you need to know, from the ambience and owner, to the more geeky specs, such as the beans on bar and the espresso machine. But what makes this the app for the connoisseur is the inclusion of ‘alternative brew equipment‘ details: it tells you whether the coffee shop sells filter coffee! Hallelujah. It’s worth the extra few pence for this alone!
There’s also an interesting facts section, that lists coffee roasters, as well as giving a brief history of coffee, going back to Classical times. I’m not entirely sure why, but it’s certainly not something the other cheaper apps have. Also something worth noting is that the ‘rating’ system, giving coffee shops marks out of five for ‘coffee’ and ‘overall’ is a bit unhelpful. The lowest ranked coffee shop has a rating of 3.75, so most of the coffee shops are over 4. It may be that all the coffee shops are amazing (I wouldn’t be surprised), but it seems a slightly pointless exercise.
But I think those tidbits are unimportant. The ease of use and the attractiveness of this app, matched by a big body of research means this app is well worth the money. What’s more, even though there are doubtless some great coffee shops missing from the app, the professional nature of the London Coffee Guide means they won’t be missing for long.
The London Coffee Guide App is on offer this week, and can be found on iTunes, or on the Apple website.