Most apps I have used focus on London, and do it really well. They are mostly comprehensive and easy to use, perfect for the coffee enthusiast who’s fortunate enough to live in London. CoffeeGuru is not like these apps, as it has tried to extend its reach to the whole of the UK – and not just the UK. CoffeeGuru attempts to list all direct trade, speciality coffee shops in the UK, Ireland, the US and Canada! Quite ambitious, and obviously there’s no way I can describe its comprehensiveness given the scope of the app. However, the first thing to say is that it picks up many of the good coffee shops I know in small-town areas. It achieves this through a strong user-recommendation system which allows people to upload their local coffee shops. This is a dream for people outside of London, or people travelling, because they would previously have had to go through websites to get this information.
The user interface, though, is rather lacking. It almost looks like it’s unfinished. The design is crude in some ways, and the coffee-shop search is lacking in the kind of fluidity that one gets from more shiny and opulent apps. In a way this is disappointing, but it kind of adds something to the edginess of the app. This might not be to everyone’s tastes, but what this app provides is something fundamentally different to the other apps on the market. It feels like it’s been designed for no-nonsense baristas. There are a few features that back this up, and make it a real alternative, despite its simple UI.
Firstly, it has the SCAA flavour wheel embedded for whenever you need it. This means that tasting coffees or cupping coffees can be joined by this app. It’s a simple touch, but well worth having for a serious barista. Next, there is an (incomplete) list of direct trade roasters, each with some information on the roaster. I was particularly interested in this as I know very little about roasters in the US and Canada, so if I see one on a guest roast in a coffee shop, I can check up on them before I decide to try. Lastly, anybody serious about coffee wants to know where they can get good coffee when they’re outside of London (or outside of the UK), this app provides a seriously needed service by including more coffee shops than just what can be found in London.
As a result, I think this app feels primarily like a tool. A tool that has been designed to provide alternatives to the other coffee apps. In that sense, it’s definitely worth the £1.49 simply because it fills some gaps that baristas and coffee geeks will find handy and can’t be found anywhere else. The UI could definitely be better, and so could the search function, but where most of the UK apps designed for coffee do exactly the same thing, the CoffeeGuru app is refreshingly unique.
The @CoffeeGuruApp is £1.49 in iTunes and can be found here.