Intelligentsia: Elevate Your Home Brew

Are you looking to perfect your home coffee brewing technique? Intelligentsia, a coffee bar with locations in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, seeks to elevate your coffee experience from bean to cup. These guys don’t just sell coffee, they develop blends working directly with growers and they perform the roasting. With the Intelligentsia Coffee app, you can geek out on coffee by checking out the beautifully illustrated brewing techniques, keeping up with the latest seasonal coffees offered and utilizing the brew timer for ultimate brewing precision.

This smart, sleek app also connects you with Intelligentsia via their twitter feed and maps of all locations (with hours). Share your favorite coffee blends from the app on Facebook and find impressions from other coffee lovers (or leave your own) in the coffee comments.

If you know what a Chemex is or carefully calibrate your coffee grinder for the perfect cup of French Press every morning, the Intelligentsia Coffee app was made for you. Did I mention it’s free?

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Getting Started

Open the app and you’ll the home screen is a list of current coffee offerings from Intelligentsia Coffee. In this view you can see the coffee name and its three most prominent flavors (for example: cranberry, fig, vanilla). Tap the button in the top right corner to apply filters to the list. This function allows you to narrow the list by country or flavor, amongst other attributes. Browsing the coffees is fun and all, but doesn’t serve much of a purpose since you can’t purchase them in the app (go to their brick-and-mortar coffee shops or their website).

Home screen on the left, filters on the right.

Home screen on the left, filters on the right.

Dig Deeper

Tap on the coffee to get more information in the form of concise notecards navigated by a swiping motion. The first card expands on the three prominent flavors and includes Intelligentsia quality labels regarding whether or not the coffee is Direct Trade and in Season. The second card shares facts such as bean varietal, date of harvest and country of origin.

Swipe through notecards for more info on the selected coffee.

Swipe through notecards for more info on the selected coffee.

The third and final card is a menu of options you can tap to select. Find out the long story behind that particular bean, view related photographs, share the coffee on Facebook or by email, view comments from others or add your own. I noticed the Video icon is dead for all the coffees, images can only be seen in landscape mode (the app is oriented in portrait mode) and there don’t seem to be any comments. The comment function is email based, and comes off clunky and dated for such a modern-looking app. It appears that users are ignoring it altogether.

A menu of options on the left. Tap on the photo option and the image loads in landscape orientation, as seen on the right.

A menu of options on the left. Tap on the photo option and the image loads in landscape orientation, as seen on the right.

The Best Part

Leave the home screen by tapping on another icon at the base of the screen, and you’ll discover the best part of Intelligentsia. A single tap on the Brewing icon takes you to a menu of brewing methods, from vintage Pourover to complicated Siphon Brewer to the approachable French press. Tap on a brewing method for a fully illustrated slideshow on the whole process. This is the meat of the app, complete with lists of all the equipment you’ll need and smart tips that the pros use. Up in the top right corner of the screen you’ll notice a button shaped like a timer with an arrow. Tap it and you’re given the option to set the brew timer. You can then return to the step-by-step guide exactly where you left off.

Scroll through the brewing methods and select one for illustrated step-by-step instructions.

Scroll through the brewing methods and select one for illustrated step-by-step instructions.

Brew Timer can always be accessed by tapping on its icon at the bottom of the screen. Select a brew method and the time is calculated for you. Leave the app to check your email or answer the phone, and the alert will still chime when your coffee is ready. Certain brewing methods, like the Siphon Brewer, require stirring at regular intervals. Set the timer and it will alert you with instructions on what step to perform. See? It’s more than just a timer — it’s a smart timer!

Select a brewing method, like French Press, and the Brew Timer calculates the time, alerting you when the brew is ready or if additional steps are required.

Select a brewing method, like French Press, and the Brew Timer calculates the time, alerting you when the brew is ready or if additional steps are required.

The Catch-All Icon

The last icon is About, a random collection of stuff that looks like someone took the About page of a website and incorporated it into the app. Tap on an icon for more information. Only a couple of the icons are truly useful in this mobile setting: the compass and Twitter icon. Tap the compass to access a map of Intelligentsia Coffee locations and hours of operation. Swipe the screen to navigate to the next slide, a description of the shop and neighborhood. There is also the option to open Google Maps in the browser for directions based on your location, assuming you’re connected to the Internet. For the Intelligentsia twitter feed, tap the blue T and find the latest updated news.

The About page is a catch-all of icons, pictured left. Tap the compass for maps and directions to Intelligentsia Coffee shops, pictured right.

The About page is a catch-all of icons, pictured left. Tap the compass for maps and directions to Intelligentsia Coffee shops, pictured right.

The rest of the icons on the About page are for static information. The Intelligentsia logo of a winged coffee bean takes you to a long description of the company’s mission and history. In Season describes the label applied to coffee beans and what seasonality of coffee means. The black and white arrows symbol highlights the company focus on direct trade with growers. Tapping the red emblem brings up information on The Black Cat Project, a pursuit of the perfect espresso.

Conclusion

Intelligentsia Coffee is free, beautifully designed and rich in useful information. I give this app an 8/10, knocking it only because of the clunkiness when it comes to social interaction and sharing. The illustrated step-by-step brewing guides are the best part of this app. No matter how you like your coffee, Intelligentsia has a tip to improve your home brew. The Brew Timer is more than just a pretty face; it’s smart too, alerting you to steps at timed intervals. Even if you don’t live near an Intelligentsia Coffee shop or buy their beans online, this app will seduce you into loving their brand. What coffee lover wouldn’t appreciate a better brew?

 


Summary

Elevate your home brew with this iPhone app from Intelligentsia Coffee. Keep up with their current seasonal coffee offerings, perfect your brewing technique with illustrated step-by-step instructions and utilize the brew timer for preparing coffee at home.

8
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