tarbucks Corporation is an American global coffee company and coffeehouse chain based in Seattle, Washington founded in 1971 with stores in 62 countries. tarbucks Corporation is an American global coffee company and coffeehouse chain based in Seattle, Washington founded in 1971 with stores in 62 countries. Starbucks' recent iPhone app update includes the ability to order and pay for drinks from your phone. (Photo: Twin Design / Shutterstock)

5 coffee apps that make getting your cup o' joe easier

Indulge your caffeine fix with these tech-savvy twists on the typical coffee shop visit.

Your skinny no-whip low-foam extra-shot four-pump French press caramel macchiato with a dash of cinnamon just got a technological upgrade. A recent update to Starbucks' iPhone app lets patrons select their drink, order, pay from their phones, and then pick up their brew at the counter when it's ready. No more waiting in line. As fans of the coffee institution rejoice at this much-anticipated development, we decided to take a look at some other mobile apps that will give your coffee-buying (or coffee-making!) experience a 21st-century reboot.


Beanhunter

Whether you're new in town, traveling the world, visiting friends or away on business, just telling Siri (or your Uber driver, perhaps?) to take you "to the nearest coffee shop" will most likely land you at a chain location. If you're looking for something a bit off the bean-beaten path, that's where Beanhunter comes in. This app, originally developed in Australia, helps you find the best coffee around town, using Beanhunter's own rankings to determine the best shops along your travel route. It can even help you discover new coffee joints in your hometown.


Square

Barista prepares cappuccino in his coffee shop.Coffee shops that use Square POS technology can prepare drinks based on when the customer is set to arrive. (Photo: VGstockstudio/Shutterstock)

When it comes to hot drinks, timing is everything. A coffee that's been sitting out, collecting dust and getting cold isn't worth the cup it's poured into. So the folks at San Francisco-based mobile-payment startup Square devised an app that, like the Starbucks update, allows you to pre-order your coffee on your phone, but also includes a feature called Arrival Prediction, which is exactly what it sounds like: the app (and therefore the participating shop) tracks your proximity to the shop, so that when you get close, the baristas get to work. The coolest part? The Arrival Prediction icon looks just like an oven timer. So homey!


CUPS

You've heard the famous line, "If you build it, they will come," right? Well, in the case of CUPS, if you put the word "unlimited" before it, they will come. And they have. The Israeli-developed CUPS app has built a loyal following of coffee drinkers in Israel and New York City who pay $45 a month for unlimited coffee at participating shops. It's been called "a bottomless cup of coffee" and compared to Netflix for its convenient subscription-based structure. In other words, it's an indie coffee lover's dream.


UP Coffee

UP coffee app interface.UP Coffee by Jawbone allows users to track their caffeine intake. (Photo: Apple/Jawbone)

We admit it, this one's a bit of a departure. But we believe it deserves a spot in our list because of the sheer reality that coffee – like most other things – can be harmful if consumed in excess. It's no surprise that our collective fixation on caffeine is linked to sleep problems – most Americans report that they don't get enough sleep, and of those, a good number say that lack of sleep is affecting their overall health. This app, produced by the Bay Area fitness techies at Jawbone, is a health tracker for coffee drinkers, powered by an extensive database of foods and beverages and their nutritional breakdowns. By logging your caffeine intake throughout the day, the app tells you how much caffeine you're consuming per day and calculates how that will affect your sleep. Wake up and download!


Intelligentsia Coffee

Intelligentsia coffee app.Intelligentsia's app is a comprehensive how-to on coffee culture. (Photo: Apple/Intelligentsia)

This is a coffee app that doesn't mind spilling (get it?) its secrets. At its heart, this is a fair-trade coffee brewing company that started with a small shop in Chicago and expanded to coffee bars in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. Its companion app is like a how-to for at-home coffee brewers of any experience level, who want to recreate that perfect cup without leaving the house. Users can read up on the best techniques, tools and beans for optimal brewing, as well as browse a comprehensive catalog of Intelligentsia merchandise. If you want to be immersed in coffee culture, this is your app.

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