It’s been awhile since my last coffee app post, but I’m really excited about this one. Bloom is a new app for iOS5, created by Jeremy Boles, that allows users to create custom recipes for their brew methods and coffees. Unlike other apps that I’ve reviewed that just keep time, or have set recipes that can’t be edited, Bloom is fully customizable.
The app comes pre-loaded with a solid list of standard recipes for six common brew methods—Beehouse, Chemex, Clever, French Press, Syphon and V60. While I’m personally bummed there’s no Aeropress icon, I’m sure that’s something that can be added in a future update (fingers crossed).
There are a few things I really love about this app, mainly how utilitarian it is. There is no unnecessary start-up screen to slow the load time—just a couple taps and your timer is counting down. Once the clock begins, a yellow strip highlights what step you’re on (i.e. bloom or pour). When you create custom recipes, you can add as many steps as you need and name them what you like. You can also switch between remaining time or elapsed time, which is a nice feature.
Once you’ve created a recipe you like, you can duplicate it with one tap and tweak the parameters, creating a new variation of the recipe. This is great for keeping accurate records while dialing in coffees. Once you decide what tastes best, delete the others.
My only critique at this point is the wood background (it’s too similar to the Intelligentsia app and the new Coffee Tools app), let’s mix it up a bit out there! Give me some brushed metal or a field of daisies or something. A different shade of wood even or maybe a pattern in blue and white greek bath tiles.
I’d also like better control over how the recipes are arranged. Currently they arrange themselves alphabetically according to brew method or coffee name (if you add one). However, if you have multiple recipes for the same brew method and one is for Kenya Kieni and the other for Rwanda Abangakarushwa—they will no longer be grouped together on the list because the coffee name supersedes the brew method.
If you visit the Bloom website, you can watch a demo of the app in use or purchase it for $2.99—which I think is reasonable considering the limited size of the market (this isn’t Angry Birds). I like to think of it as buying the creator a cup of coffee to thank him for all his hard work. Jeremy also informed me that he submitted an update that will soon allow users to email, text or tweet parameters to others. #awesome.
On the 14th of September, a modified British Leyland Rover SD1 set a new landspeed record of 66.5mph—fueled by coffee. Using the process of “gasification,” which involves heating an organic fuel with oxygen at more than 1292°F (700°C), the car topped the previous gasification record of 47mph (powered by woodchips).
The same process, and fuel, was used by this team last year to power a 210 mile journey from Manchester to London and averaged 1.4 miles per pound of coffee burned. While I think my coffee to miles biked ratio may be much more efficient, I’m not setting any land speed records in the process.
The video below explains the vehicle modification and gasification process, and you can watch the highly dramatized landspeed bid over on the BBC. Congrats to the team for their World Record! Enjoy.
San Francisco’s Best Coffee, a new app for West Coast coffee lovers, gives Bay area residents and visitors a great resource for finding good coffee in the city. Blue Crow Media made their introduction into the coffee world with their first app, London’s Best Coffee, and are now bringing their digital expertise to the US.
San Francisco is my favorite city in the States, and the SF coffee scene continues to grow and improve every time I return. I previously made a Google Map of recommended stops, but I topped out at about 20 locations. The SF Best app has over 60 locations, including roasteries as well as cafés all marked on an integrated Google map. The icons are nicely designed and touching one will bring up a thumbnail photo along with the location’s name.
Each stop can be rated, giving it an opportunity to be listed among the Top 25, as well as offering users a bit of community feedback. I’m not sure if there are any safeguards to prevent dishonest voting—I’m always skeptical about how these things are tallied—but the current list isn’t far from my own personal favorites.
Once you select a cafe, there’s a nice profile of them, including address, phone number, website, and hours of operation. It also includes technical information such as beans, grinder and espresso machine used. I would also like to see whether a place offers pour over, frcnch press, etc.—as well as when they were established, and wifi capability. I also think shops in Oakland should have been included. I understand that its technically a different city, but it’s like creating a New York City app and leaving out Brooklyn.
The profile continues with a photo of the location, a brief description, and the option to get directions via the iPhone map (which seems to be having problems right now).
For $0.99 cents, it’s less than you would spend buying a friend a cup of coffee or tipping your barista for referring you to a long list of nice cafés. While I haven’t visited all them, if you stick to the Top 25, I doubt you’ll ever be disappointed.
The day after I wrote about Stumptown’s printed brew guides, Intelligentsia released their own guide in the form of an iPhone app. Though very different in its delivery, the slick sophistication of the app is just as fitting to Intelligentsia’s brand, as the texture of the chipboard and the smell of ink are to Stumptown’s.
The free iPhone app, made in partnership with 79Lines, has an up-to-date listing of Intelligentsia’s coffee offerings, as well as detailed information about each. You can read about the taste notes, elevation, country origin, harvest date, etc. It goes as far as including a section for images and videos, where even more behind the scenes media can be added about the coffee varietal.
Moving beyond Intelligentsia’s product descriptions, the app also includes a series of nicely illustrated tutorials for a selection of brew methods: pourover, Chemex, cafe solo, French press, and cupping. Hopefully the list will be expanded with a future update to include others (eg. AeroPress, moka pot, syphon pot). However, the initial list covers a good selection of common methods.
Along with the tutorials, there are timers that correspond with each method. The timers aren’t just a stylized version of the phones built-in timer, but also includes alerts within the countdown to indicate next steps. For example, 45 seconds into the pourover countdown, an alert pops up to say, “bloom time is finished, start your pour.”
An additional page includes links to Intelligentsia’s twitter feeds, information about their Direct Trade system, in-season coffee, and the company itself. While this is obviously branded content, it’s also a valuable tool for anyone brewing their own coffee. Intelligentsia continues to be a leader in the coffee industry, consistently pushing for better prices for farmers, the best coffee for consumers, and doing it all with remarkable style and a well-polished sense of design.