Barista Magazine

OCT-NOV 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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F O A M : N E W S + T R E N D S NEW APP AIMS TO CONNECT COFFEE COMMUNITY AROUND TASTE ANDREA B. PACAS HAS LIVED and breathed coffee for virtually her entire life. A sixth-generation coffee producer from El Salvador, she was frequently on coffee farms as a child and has been fascinat- ed with cupping and brewing ever since. Working closely with coffee for so long, she began to observe certain tendencies among consumers. "I noticed that people are sometimes unable to appreciate high- er-quality coffee because they aren't sure how to recognize it," she says. "They almost always go for the most popular brand or for the lowest price, which doesn't necessarily guarantee quality." Andrea saw the need for a new coffee com- munity focused around quality, but she wasn't sure exactly how it would look. Then a couple of years ago, while enjoying lunch with her extended family, Andrea used the wine-rating app Vivino—an online community with which users rate and review wines—to fi nd out more information about the wine being served. In that moment, she had an epiphany. "Suddenly it hit me that the coffee industry needed an app like that," Andrea says. The result of this inspiration is Coffunity, an app that launched ear- lier this year in which users can rate the coffees they taste and share their reviews with people around the world. The app's debut was an auspicious one: At April's Global Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle, Coffunity won two Best New Product awards—in the Technology category and Best in Show. Coffunity's goal is to create a global community of coffee drink- ers united around quality coffee. Users search for specific coffees by typing in the name or taking a picture of the label, which Coffu- nity's image-recognition technology reads. The app then shows the community's average ratings and taste attributes of that coffee, as well as a wide range of details including farmer, variety, process- ing method, and growing elevation. The app keeps track of users' coffees and organizes them in their profile by date and rating. App users can also follow others to discover their preferred coffees and build community. Bringing Coffunity from Andrea's initial concept into a functioning app took over a year and involved the collaboration of Coffunity's team, which includes Andrea as cofounder and CEO, Federico Bolanos as cofounder and chief product offi cer, and Adrían Gómez as chief technology offi cer and partner. Once the idea was in place, the team set upon the daunting task of building its roasted-coffee database so that users could fi nd out more about the coffees they were drinking. "We assembled a team of eight people completely dedicated to feeding the database," says Federico. As a result of these efforts, Coffunity has a database of over 160,000 coffees, mostly from roasters in the U.S.A., Canada, and the U.K. For Federico, spreading the word about high-quality coffee has been a lifelong journey. Federico and his wife, Lily, founded Viva Espresso in 2006, a four-location café and specialty-coffee roastery in El Salvador that serves top coffees from throughout the country. Federico is also dedicated to creating global coffee ambassadors as a veteran trainer of barista competitors. Federico sees Coffunity as a natural extension of his desire to expose more and more coffee drinkers to excellent coffee. " We want to help consumers drink better coffee," he says. " We believe everyone will benefit from having access to the collective tasting experiences of coffee consumers around the world." In keeping with this global vision, Coffunity has been downloaded in more than 60 countries thus far, and Federico says they plan to add coffees from more global roasters to the database in the near future. Federico and Andrea say they were humbled by the immedi- ate success Coffunity received in winning the Best New Product awards at the Expo in April. "[The awards] translated into thou- sands of new users, which was an important boost for us because we have a limited marketing budget and we're trying to reach a global audience," Federico says. While it was the beta version of Coffunity that won the Best New Product award, the team has since released two updates that improve usability. The current version of Coffunity is available for download in the iTunes App Store, and an Android iteration of the app launched in September. Andrea says they will continue to im- prove the app; future plans include adding a Pro Raters category of users whose evaluations of coffees will appear separately from other users' ratings, so people can compare perspectives on quality assessment. While Coffunity is still in its early stages, the app's instant success has provided a positive start toward the lofty goals of its creators. "We want to build the world's largest coffee community," Federico says, "and the best way to do this is by bringing people together doing what they love most: tasting coffee." —Chris Ryan Coff unity allows users to rate the coff ees they taste and share their reviews with a global network. "We want to build the world's largest coff ee community," says Coff unity cofounder Federico Bolanos. PHOTO COURTESY OF COFFUNITY 24 barista magazine

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