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Apps for Coffee Drinkers

It seems like there are apps for practically everything these days, whether it's music, movies, recipes, or... well, things we won't mention. Coffee drinkers aren't left out in the cold, thankfully. There are dozens, if not hundreds (I didn't have time to count), available for smartphone and tablet users, whether you're using an Android or iOS-based (Apple) device. Not all apps are created equal. Some work better on paper than they do once they're installed. The five apps below were the ones we found particularly interesting.

Barista (iOS, $2.99; unavailable on Android): If you're making the shift from the coffee shop to brewing your own, the learning curve can be intimidating. Glasshouse Apps' application won't turn you into a certified barista, but it's a darned good educational tool within its limitations. With its attractive, user-friendly interface, and tons of practical information (recipes, tips, videos and chat), it's not quite a masterclass in your pocket, but it's an excellent way to get a running start. I have only two complaints. One is with the app's focus on espresso drinks at the expense of other techniques like pour overs and Chemex. The other is with the videos. They're limited in number, and they're short. Granted, there's no shortage of similar information on YouTube, but that rather defeats the purpose of having an all-in-one app in the first place. But if you're comfortable with self-directed learning and a bit of experimentation, this app is actually quite good.

BaristaMe (Android, free or $0.99; unavailable on iOS): The Pro version of Baristame eliminates advertisements and adds a few features (I should note here that I have the Pro version and never bothered with the free version; it was worth spending a buck not to have to bother with advertisements). There are instructions on brew methods, educational tools and recipes, and the advantage over Barista is that it includes information on non-espresso methods like Chemex, Aeropress, and siphon coffee. If you've found tweaks to grounds-to-water ratios that you prefer, those can be saved.

Coffee Finder (Android: Free or $1.49; iOS: Unavailable): What used to be called ‘Find a Starbucks’ 'til the company hit the app developer with a cease-and-desist now includes other coffee shops like Dunkin' Donuts and Peet's, among other chains. The app includes nutritional information, pricing, and customization options, and uses your phone's GPS to help you locate your next fix, even locating stores with drive-throughs. The Pro version adds more robust search functionality. In both cases, the search function can be hinky, and the app has been reported to be prone to freezing unexpectedly.

Secret Menu App For Starbucks (iOS, Android; free): Starbucks claims that it offers 87,000 variations on its menu. This app claims to help coffee drinkers find their favorite recipes, which they can then show to their barista. They further claim that "ost Starbucks locations will be happy to make you these delicious drinks." We're skeptical of that last part especially. While we've never gotten bad service at a Starbucks,* baristas -- at Starbucks or elsewhere -- typically have their hands full, especially if you're ordering at a busy time of day. Baristas who've reviewed the app note that some of the ingredients are no longer in use, and that changes in nomenclature and terminology might prove confusing for baristas. Additionally, the app doesn't let its users know which changes and add-ons will incur an extra cost.

Starbucks (iOS, Android; free): The redesigned Starbucks app does double duty (it incorporates the functionality of My Coffee Card Pro, which used to be a separate app). You can place orders (with full customization), get rewards program and gift card balances, pay with your phone, reload your gift card, and otherwise have an enjoyable Starbucks experience. It's a clean, reliable, and attractively-designed application. The only catch? It only works in the US, UK & Canada. Looking for your next great cup of coffee? Whether you're making your own, or it's coming from the other side of a counter, there's an app for that. And if you feel like turning the phone off (or tossing it out the window), have a cup of our roasted-to-order whole bean coffee instead.

Find Your Apps:

Google Play: iTunes: *That's neither sarcasm nor hyperbole; I may complain from time to time about their coffee, but I've literally never had bad service at a Starbucks.