This 2016 SCAA Event is in the books, and with it, the glitz and glitter of the showfloor fading into a beeping cacophony of forklifts and wrap-up jobs. This year's event sizzled with scintillating product debuts, but it wasn't all artisanal font collabos and sweet-as tiny espresso machines—the internet of things was front and center at SCAA 2016. That means more apps than an Applebees were on display, and so we took to the showfloor to discover six of our favorites.
These are the six buzziest killer coffee apps of SCAA 2016.
Acaia Brewbar App
Acaia has impressed the coffee world with its sleekly designed scales and accompanying app to control your home brewing. Now, it’s upped the game even more by releasing a behemoth of an app that gives cafe baristas total control over their multi-scale brewing stations. According to the app’s developer, Jordan Han, the goal of the app is to allow multiple baristas at a cafe to achieve consistency with their brews—every time, every day.
Obviously this is a goal for all cafes, but the data that the Acaia app provides through their scales is incredible, allowing baristas to visualize this consistency (or lack of) in an easily accessible way. When brewing, you can input temperature, grind size, bean weight, who is brewing, which brew method you’re using, and any notes you might have into the app. Your brew is tracked live on a graph, with lines showing you the flow rate of water into the filter, how fast it is percolating through the grinds into the vessel, and how full the filter is at any one time.
You can even brew against a “Master Brewprint”—a recipe that can be set by the head barista for other baristas at a cafe to follow. Data can be pulled from any barista’s set of brews, or all the brews from the cafe, to see how brew changes directly affect the quality of all your brews. It’s a brave new world for brewing and Acaia is helping us get there.
Acaia Brewbar App, pricing TBD. iOS and Android tablets.
If you’re a fan of Kayak (online travel aggregator) or Untappd (beer logger and recommendation app) and you work in coffee, then Beanstock is probably right up your alley. This savvy little site has big dreams—to bring the world of green coffee to your fingertips without ever having to update your passport. While visiting origin and having direct trade relationships is a goal for many roasteries and even cafes these days, it’s just not possible for everyone to do it—especially smaller companies. But according to Lere Williams of Beanstock, this shouldn’t hold you back from having the best green coffee possible.
“You should still have the same access about traceability and certifications as someone who trades directly,” Williams told Sprudge. Beanstock aggregates information about coffees from all over the web, indexing info about origin, producers, certifications, cupping notes, and more. You can search by origin or cupping notes like “fruity”; Beanstock even uses feedback from users to help recommend coffees they think you’ll like based on how you have searched and interacted with the site before. The goal is to collect information and increase transparency around coffees, for all companies big and small.
Beanstock.ag, free. Beta testing, invite only. Official launch in a few weeks.
Behmor Connected Coffee Maker App
It seems that Behmor has both feet firmly in the camp that apps are a helpful and necessary part of modern technology. Like the app-connected home roaster we featured in our showfloor tech review, the Behmor Connected Coffee Maker comes with its own app to help you control the machine. In fact, unlike their manual Brazen Plus Coffee Maker, you actually need the app to run the coffee maker.
From the home screen on the app, you can choose “Brew”, “Craft”, or “Buzz”. “Brew” asks you how many cups you’d like to make (6 or 8), whether your package is pre-ground or freshly ground, and how light or dark it is roasted. Using these parameters it preps the best temperature and preinfusion time. “Craft” gives you more control, allowing you to choose the temperature and preinfusion time yourself. “Buzz” is where Behmor hopes companies and baristas will share their recommended recipes for certain coffees so that home consumers can be sure to be getting the absolute best that their bag of coffee can offer.
Perhaps the best part of the set-up is that you don’t even have to be in the same room to get your coffee going. Since the app connects via wifi and pairs with your phone, you can be coming home from the gym and get you water ready to brew. Or if you put your coffee in the filter the night before, all you have to do is roll over and hit a button to start brewing while you’re still snuggled in bed. You don’t ever have to leave the covers a moment before that morning brew is ready. Now that’s what we call progress.
Behmor App, free. iOS and Android.
Cropster Roast Software
Cropster has been an integral tool for roasters for a few years now. But they know that providing their customers with the best service means keeping it fresh and updating the software. This doesn’t just mean including new functionality, but also improving how the interface itself looks. For a new suite of services we profiled on the site last week, Cropster recently teamed up with a UI designer to redesign the entire look of the app to make it more appealing, and a front end developer to make it easier to make use of the incredible amounts of data within it. This is where the biggest changes can be seen.
“It lets the roasters easily look at their data, which usually takes up so much time,” says Devin Connolly, sales and support for Cropster. Making this wealth of data readily available to roasters allows them to make informed decisions. There are now features for sample management—label them, see who they came from, how much they cost, how much you plan to buy, etc. As for all the roasts that are tracked, you can now search for roasts by lot ID, origin, name, profile, who roasted it, first crack time, sensory score etc…
Roasters can see statistics and deviations to help them determine what works or doesn’t work in their roasts, and now can also track things like rate of rise. In short, it links data to quality, and allows roasters to sift through this data in minutiae to ensure that the quality of their roasts goes nowhere but up.
Bob Sanders has been managing professional cupping events for the Rainforest Alliance for many years, which means he’s seen it all when it comes to the business of organising a tasting bonanza. He’s watched people use paper spreadsheets for years, dealing with the frustration, uncertainties, and time-intensive work of trying to extract and understand data from so many cuppings. When looking at the current and future needs of a producer, co-op, buyer, etc… data can help us see a trend. And so OpenCup was devised to help better organise cupping events and make it easy to collate and use data from these important events.
The app has a clean interface free from distraction, which is very important according to Sanders. “Technology has to be in the background. It can’t distract you from evaluating coffee.” The sensory attributes are scored using sliders, which lend a real-world kinesthetic feel to the app—something that paper-and-pen luddites might otherwise miss in other apps. After the cupping, data is easily sent back to the head cupper, who can then use OpenCup to collate all the scores and meaningfully sift through what it all means. High and low scores, medians and averages can all be shown, along with the ever-present hex graph showing all the cuppers’ scores. It’s sure to be an invaluable tool for all professional cupping outfits.
OpenCup, $19.99. Subscription to OpenCup+, $5.99/mo. iOS 9, iPad only.
SCAA Expo App
If you attended the SCAA Expo, chances are that you downloaded the Specialty Coffee Association of America's Event app. Whether it’s to help you get around, keep connected via the activity feed, or look up the schedule of what’s happening, there’s no doubt that it’s an incredibly helpful tool for any attendee. But it’s just as valuable for the SCAA as well.
Every year they gather feedback from attendees and exhibitors and use it not only to improve the app, but the expo itself. One feature that has been added to the app due to feedback is the SCAA member cafe map, so that attendees could easily find SCAA-member cafes in the expo city each year. It’s also for people to connect and share what’s getting them excited about the event, whether it’s the lectures, the competitions, or all the stands in the exhibit hall.
“The activity feed has been surprising in how many attendees use it and how active they are,” says Tara Smith, the SCAA’s director of marketing and communication. “It seems they want a dedicated social space where they know it’s just people at the show who are also sharing their same experiences.” And it’s maybe a little healthy competition too. We’re sure we’ll get to the top of that leaderboard one day…
SCAA Expo App, free. iOS and Android.
Kate Beard is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in London. Read more Kate Beard on Sprudge.