Developer: David Kim
Platform: iPhone & iPad
How do you like your coffee? If your immediate response to that question was to think about your milk and sugar preferences rather than whether you favor pour-over or AeroPress, Barista is here to guide you to the next level of coffee appreciation.
This is an app that aims to help you make top quality coffee using a range of possible methods. That being said, it does assume a basic level of willingness and enthusiasm from the user, as well as a baseline level of specialist equipment.
As a bare minimum, you really need to be in the position to buy and grind your own coffee beans. The app will explain why this is so important, and indeed one of the key strengths of Barista is its conversational and informative tone. It works hard to justify every step that it asks of you in the coffee-making process.
Grinder and beans in hand, Barista is actually quite flexible in its approach. Its Guides section contains step by step guides for making a top-notch brew in 18 different styles across a number of methods. Starting with the basic French Press/cafetiere, it then moves through numerous pour-over techniques, Chemex, Siphon, AeroPress and more.
The guides themselves are simple swipe-to-scroll affairs, with each stage represented by a paragraph of simple text. Again, the tone taken here is clear and thorough without being patronizing or long-winded.
Guides aside, the main portion of Barista – and the bit you’ll be using day to day – is the Timers section. This enables you to add specific countdown timers, complete with step-by-step guidance, for your particular brewing method.
Start a timer for the French Press method, for example, and Barista will give you three seconds to pour the initial splash of water, at which point it’ll whistle at you to signify the start of the bloom stage. Another whistle after 30 seconds will tell you to pour and steep for a further four minutes.
It’s generally a helpful aid, and we were able to turn out highly drinkable coffee from several different methods using the appropriate timers. We also appreciated the ability to edit the timers according to preference or quantity required.
However, there is some disparity between the instructions given in the Guides section and that provided in the timers themselves. It’s nothing major, and could partly be explained by the need for brevity at the timing stage. But the first few times we brewed using the app we felt impelled to switch between the Guides and Timers section for a full picture of the process – only to find that backing out of the timer canceled it altogether.
Coupled with a handful of minor spelling mistakes, it suggests that Barista is an invaluable coffee-brewing companion in the making, but that it might be an update or two away from being truly essential.
- Clean presentation
- Multiple brewing methods
- Helpful, informative tone
- A few basic errors and disparities
- Can't switch out of timers