The modern era has never been better for coffee lovers. Not only are there so many coffee shops and roasts available, but technology makes it easier to order your favorite brew from your favorite store.
Coffee shop apps have changed the game because they allow users to get the most out of their transactions. Thanks to reward systems, locator services, and efficient mobile payments, these apps are a must for any coffee enthusiast.
With that in mind, I’ve found four apps that are perfect for coffee lovers. Get your smartphone ready, and let’s dive in.
What To Look For In Apps For Coffee Shops
Generally, there are two types of coffee shop apps. The first type is designed to work for a specific shop or chain, allowing you to order ahead, get reward points, and see the menu.
The second type of coffee shop app isn’t tied to a single brand but rather helps you find and review independent coffee shops. These apps may also connect with some of the businesses to allow for payments, but not usually. So, when looking at these apps, here are some general features and functions to pay attention to:
If you’re allowed to order ahead, you should also be able to pay through the app. Otherwise, the app doesn’t really save much time or hassle from your transaction. Ideally, there should also be multiple payment options, including credit and debit cards, gift cards, and electronic payment systems like Apple Pay.
As a bonus, you should also have the option to tip your barista. This way, you don’t have to add an extra step or bring cash with you to tip.
Fortunately, most coffee shop apps are compatible with both iOS and Android, so you shouldn’t have to worry about having to choose one or the other. That said, some apps may only be available on one device, so you have to make sure it will work before trying to download it.
Typically, these apps will help you find the closest coffee shop near you, no matter where you are. In some cases, you may even be able to get access to special discounts or rewards offered by franchises or chains.
When comparing these apps, look at how well the map feature works. Sometimes, it may just provide an address, while other times, it may give you a map, but you may have to transfer to Google or Apple Maps to get directions.
How To Choose The Best Coffee Shop Apps
We’ve compiled a list of the top apps available for great coffee, but there are many more localized apps for regional stores and chains. So, when deciding which app to put on your phone, compare these features:
Reward Or Loyalty Programs
Starbucks has raised the bar for coffee shop reward programs. You earn a star for every dollar you spend, although there are sometimes promotions where certain items are worth extra stars. After a while, you can redeem those stars for free drinks and other products.
Most big coffee chains have some kind of reward system, which may only be available through the app. Independent stores might also offer a loyalty program, such as getting a free drink if you buy enough (i.e., buy ten, get one free).
Whether you’re going through a drive-thru or visiting a shop in person, online ordering is a valuable feature that can streamline the entire experience. All the best apps allow you to order ahead and see the menu. However, keep in mind that if an item is out of stock, you might not know until you arrive.
Reviews And Recommendations
First, you should check the reviews of the app itself to see what actual users are saying about it. As a rule, the more reviews an app has, the more reliable the rating. Additionally, some apps allow you to rate stores and shops within the app, which can be helpful if you’re trying to find new locations to get your favorite espresso or latte.
We’ve all had a bad experience with a mobile app that just didn’t work, crashed, or had tons of bugs. Although it’s never been easier to develop a new app, some are far more user-friendly than others. Typically, bigger brands can afford an IT team, while independent coffee shops might not be able to upgrade their app regularly.
If you’re already a fan of Starbucks, you’ll want to download the app as soon as possible. This app is pretty much the gold standard, thanks to the numerous stores available and the value of the loyalty program.
Plus, Starbucks makes it easy to incorporate gift cards and alternative payment methods into your transaction. So, if you don’t want to pay with a credit card, you have options.
Overall, this app is very user-friendly and easy to use. It can also give you notifications about new deals, menu items, or reward points. If you’re already going to Starbucks anyway, it pays to have the app.
As the company says, America runs on Dunkin’, so it makes sense to download the app if you want to get your coffee fixed. However, unlike Starbucks, the DD app allows you to pre-order coffee and food, meaning you can get your breakfast quickly and easily.
Recently, DD revamped its rewards system, so it’s not as good as it was before, and it takes longer to get free stuff. However, the app is still very user-friendly and makes it easy to get coffee and other products from Dunkin’ when you’re already planning a visit. Some unique features include favorite orders, multiple payment options, and the ability to buy and send gift cards to friends.
If you’re from the west coast, you’re likely familiar with the blue and white windmill logo of Dutch Bros. This brand caters mainly to the younger crowd, so it makes sense that it would go all-in on a mobile app.
The Dutch Bros app is pretty straightforward in that you can browse menu options, pay online, and earn rewards points. The reward system is pretty good, and it’s relatively easy to get free coffee.
One thing that sets this app apart from others is that it allows users to customize their experience with digital stickers they can collect and share. While these stickers don’t enhance the coffee-buying process, they add a little flair to an otherwise simple-to-use app.
While major coffee chains are easy to find, what if you want to drink at a local coffee shop? In that case, you can download Beanhunter to your iPhone and search for independent businesses near you. This app works perfectly if you’re looking to expand your coffee horizons at home or abroad.
Another benefit of this app is that you can share your coffee experiences and read what others have written about different shops and blends. As a community-based app, Beanhunter is kind of like a social media platform for coffee lovers.
Before I narrowed down my list, I compared these apps based on the following elements:
- Usability – I only picked apps that were easy to install and master within a few minutes.
- Reliability – If an app crashes often, it’s not worth having on your phone.
- Ease of Use – I prefer apps that allow you to cash rewards, re-purchase coffee orders, and save multiple payment options.
Why You Can Trust Me
I’ve downloaded and used a ton of food-related apps over the years, so I know what works and what doesn’t. I’ve been frustrated and burned by too many subpar apps to know when something will be a dud. All the apps listed here are more than functional and valuable enough for all coffee lovers.