Serious Eats: Drinks
Six Great Coffee Apps for the iPhone
No true coffee geek is ever far from the tools of their trade, and in many cases this toolkit includes an iPhone—a brewing timer at the ready, that, sometimes, also makes phone calls. But for those who'd prefer a more in-depth pocket reference, or something to hold their hand while brewing coffee at home, there are a few apps on the market that may be just the thing.
Pour Over ($0.99)
For those who want a timer that truly makes their coffee lab feel like command central, Pour Over offers a second-by-second guide to brewing down. Limited to the Clever Dripper, Hario V60, and Bonmac drippers, Pour Over has a super-simple interface with guides to coffee:water ratios and a gigantic timer that lets you know what you should be doing with your brew at each step ("Add coffee grinds", "Pre-Wet Grinds,", "Stir", etc.)
If there's a shortcoming to Pour Over, it's that it doesn't get too detailed about grind setting—the "fine filter drip grind" they suggest may or may not produce the extraction you prefer (or may extract far faster or slower than the timer suggests should be happening), and non-coffee-pros might like a little more assistance in troubleshooting whether they need to coarsen or fine up their grind to get where they need to be. The timer, however, could prove invaluable in training people to control their pour to just the right speed for the optimal cup.
Brew Control ($1.99)
A super-simple ratio calculator for those who love to measure everything, Brew Control offers preset proportional tools for brewing Aeropress, Chemex, Pourover, French Press, Siphon and (more ambitiously) "auto drip" and "espresso". Assuming you're already weighing your water, this tool allows for easy micromanagement of what kind of extraction and brew ratio you're shooting for, across each of the various modes of preparation.
Guidelines for each method are looser than the pocket-protector approach of the rest of the app would suggest—but this could save some you some math time if you're really getting into the nitty gritty.
Coffee Tools ($3.99)
If you don't have an espresso machine handy, this one will go over your head—but for those who brew espresso either at home or professionally, Coffee Tools is here to help calibrate the perfect espresso shot based on a user-built database of successful extractions linked to unique coffees.
More importantly, it calculates your brew ratio to allow control and measurement over your espresso extractions—giving you the right range to shoot for, or adjust, in the neverending quest to dial in.
Had great success with a particular set of parameters using Heart's "Stereo" espresso blend? Store it in the app and refer to it later, or share via social media or email so that others can experiment with your settings, too. Also stores notes and origin info for your later reference.
Intelligentsia Coffee (free)
Though it looks at first like strictly a vanity app, the Intelligentsia brewing app is a handy reference guide to various popular manual brew methods—Chemex, siphon, pourover, Cafe Solo, French Press, and cupping.
The slideshow-like interface isn't smooth or super intuitive, but the roaster's parameters for brewing, and more importantly the in-depth explanations of the processes within each step, make it a valuable educational tool.
Includes a separate timer preset for various brew methods, and a catalog of the company's current offerings.
Coffee Trip (free)
Long-suffering coffee travelers have been in need of a reliable pocket guide to good coffee for some time, and many have tried, though usually on the local level, like London's Best Coffee or The New York Times' coffee division of The Scoop app—but since the withering of espressomap.com, few have attempted to compile a true traveler's resource. Coffee Trip's unique approach (a vast, not qualitatively ranked database of primarily independent shops) is our best hope in awhile, and allows users to search for specific criterion besides location, such as where the nearest coffee bar serving Tim Wendelboe Coffee is (in my case, 5,913.67 miles away).
The interface leaves much to be desired, and details on each cafe are (understandably) scant, but this is a good start that will hopefully continue to develop by leaps and strides going forward, saving as many road warriors as possible from another trip to the gas station "café".
Has Bean (free)
A hyper-charged panoply of coffee information is contained within this free app, representing the collective knowledge of those at Has Bean Coffee in the UK (where the pun in the name makes much more sense.)
Want to look at coffee photos, up-to-the-minute-tweets, learn about coffee varietals, or order coffee with the "Emergency!" feature? It's all here, along with a cadre of embedded utilities—timer, water to coffee ratio calculator—that are handy, but could be handier if integrated into one nifty widget.
A separate section dedicated to brewing guides links to Has Bean's excellently goofy video guide series, though, which makes the delightfully cluttered app worth more than its weight in beans.
About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs, and writes about coffee and tea all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is bad at keeping up her coffee-world blog at twitchy.org