If you're curious about what the best specialty coffee apps are, you're in the right place.
As a coffee-loving digital nomad and app developer myself, I've not only traveled extensively around Europe and beyond, tasting coffees in hundreds of coffee shops but I also know what makes a good app.
In this article I'm going to dive into four of the best apps for people who love going out for specialty coffee. We'll take a look at the features, advantages, and disadvantages of each so you know which is right for you.
So grab yourself a coffee and let's get started.
European Coffee Trip is the OG guide to where to drink specialty coffee in Europe. Starting out as a blog it has evolved into an extensive resource of articles, interviews, and guides on the world of specialty coffee, as well as a successful YouTube channel and one of the most-followed coffee profiles on Instagram.
In 2021, they launched their app to their 400k followers and subscribers and it quickly became one of the most downloaded apps for specialty coffee lovers.
First thing you'll notice is the clean, modern design with bold use of color and plenty of images to paint a picture of each coffee shop. It's really a pleasure to look at.
The map is easy to browse by simply dragging or zooming it to wherever you are interested in.
Whilst bigger isn't always better, they have probably the largest number of coffee shops listed in Europe of any coffee app, meaning thorough coverage, wherever you travel on the continent. There is also generally a good amount of detail about what services each coffee shop offers, for example wifi, type of coffee served etc.
A clue to the first downside lies in the name: the app only focuses on Europe. So if you're based elsewhere or travel further afield, you're out of luck with European Coffee Trip.
There's also no social element, with no ability to rate coffees or review coffee shops, which feels like a big missed opportunity seeing as though they have the largest user base of any specialty coffee app. It can also make choosing which coffee shop to visit difficult as there's nothing to differentiate the locations on the map in terms of ratings or features.
Despite a couple of downsides, European Coffee Trip is still the benchmark app for specialty coffee lovers who want to know which cafés to visit.
Kava launched in 2022 with the aim of making coffee more social. Users can rate each coffee they drink and share these ratings, images and comments with friends and followers. This data then provides other users with more information about each coffee shop and what they're best at.
The social element of Kava is its strongest asset and in a way it's like an Untappd for coffee. User-shared images means that you can see what each place is really like, rather than just seeing carefully styled PR photos provided by the café.
The user-generated ratings means that the app has impartial data about exactly what to expect when you visit, what food and services (eg wifi, laptop-friendliness) are available, and what coffee the café makes best.
The design is clean and simple and the map is easy to browse, with key information such as opening times and services immediately visible.
Kava is the newest of all the apps on this list and so has the smallest user base. This means that in some cases the social element is not fully exploited as it hasn't yet reached a critical mass of users.
Whilst in theory it is available worldwide, in reality the majority of users and coffee shops are in Europe, so users in the US or elsewhere will have to wait a little longer until the potential of the app is realized in their area.
Finally, the design and implementation of the app feels a little less slick than some of the other apps on this list.
If you want up-to-date impartial information or enjoy the social element of snapping pictures of your coffees and 'collecting' ratings and check-ins then Kava could be the app for you.
Roasters was founded in 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal. It's currently the second most downloaded specialty coffee app after European Coffee Trip, with more than 5k downloads on Google Play alone.
Although the developers are based in Europe, the app features recommendations throughout the world.
Like European Coffee Trip, the app feels well-considered and highly polished, with a sleek, modern design.
It has the largest selection of coffee shops throughout the world that I have seen on any coffee app. Some of the coffee shops have detailed information, even down to what roasters they serve.
There's also a social element, with the ability to review coffee shops.
Navigating the map is a little clunky as you have to manually select a city rather than just dragging or zooming the map like you can with Kava or European Coffee Trip. Some cities have so many pins that it is hard to take in. I'd personally prefer either a more curated selection, or grouping so that tightly packed pins are grouped until you get down to a high level of zoom.
When selecting a pin on the map, the only information that you can see is the coffee shop's star rating and today's opening time, not other information about what the coffee shop offers. Filtering by 'open now' is also a premium feature requiring a paid subscription.
Finally, although the app has coffee shops listed throughout the world, very few outside of Europe have any reviews as their user base seems to be Europe-centric. I know first-hand how difficult it can be to grow an international audience of users so I'm sure this will change as the app continues to grow in popularity.
The app was founded by four coffee loving friends, Marius, Julia, Sven, and Frederik and is developed in Berlin. Annoyed by the effort it was taking them to find the latest information on the local coffee scene, they took matters into their own hands and built Where to drink coffee.
Something that sets this app aside is the clarity they express in terms of how they select coffee shops for inclusion on the app. It certainly feels like they have struck a good balance as they have thorough coverage but it feels like a more curated list than some other coffee apps. They also have a scale of 0-3 golden beans based on how impressed they are with what the coffee shop is doing. Additionally some coffee shops are highlighted as being one of the founders personal favourites. A nice personal touch.
They also have extensive worldwide coverage, in-line with their aim of finding and rating every specialty coffee place in the world. Quite the challenge!
For many coffee shops, the app shows information about what equipment they're using, whether they offer espresso and/or filter coffee, and whether the shop is a roastery. This can help choose the right place depending on what type of coffee you're in the mood for.
I find navigating the map a little awkward as, just with Roasters, you have to manually select the city from a dropdown menu, rather than being able to drag/browse the map.
Whilst they do have information about what type of coffee is served, there's no information about what food is available, or other services such as wifi.
The design is clean and simple but lacks visual interest as there are no images. This also means it's hard to picture what the place will be like when you get there.
Finally, there's no social element to it, nor the opportunity to add ratings or reviews.
Well, I hope you enjoyed your coffee and my rundown of the best apps for specialty coffee lovers.
As the developer of Kava, I'd love to see you on the app and start seeing what coffees you're drinking and rating. But as I've explored in this article, there are several other great apps that might be better for you.
Whichever app you choose, have fun with it and stay caffeinated!
Kava is the new free app for specialty coffee lovers.
Kava helps you discover the best specialty coffee shops. Rate your coffees and share images, comments and likes with your friends and followers.
Get it now for free on Android or iPhone here.