October 26, 2015

How Can Your Smartphone Improve Your Coffee Experience?


Look around you. New technology is everywhere, and we’re not just talking about people instagramming latte art. No, we’re talking about the way it has changed our entire lives.

Take mealtimes. They’ve been revolutionised—now you can have a takeaway or gourmet meal delivered to your door within minutes. The power you now have in the palm of your hand is phenomenal. It’s transforming the way we complete everyday tasks for the better.

Regular coffee drinkers are about to realise the value of smartphones in their morning routine. Forward-thinking coffee shops and baristas are poised to take advantage of new technology, and coffee consumers will find their coffee experience greatly improved as a result.

Lee este artículo en español Cómo tu Smartphone Puede Mejorar tu Experiencia Con el Café

takinf photo with iphone

Technology brings into view a new coffee-industry horizon. Credit: Pexels

We’re Too Stuck in Our Routines to See The Problem

UK coffee drinkers are estimated to waste 25 million hours every week simply standing in queues, while it’s projected that the average British resident will spend over a year of their life in retail queues—insane! There are fewer things more irritating than being trapped in that perpetual line of despair. The wait to order and pay is agonising, especially when you came to chat with friends or family.

When the only thing we all share is 24 hours each day, why are we wasting these precious hours on such a  mundane chore?

SEE ALSO: 5 Steps to Taking Eye-Popping #Coffee Photos


Time well spent? I don’t think so. Credit: Flickr, Xiaojun Deng

To claw that time back, we need to analyse our daily routines. While bar queues are horrendous, most of us don’t visit bars on a daily basis. Coffee, on the other hand, is a genuine necessity for many, with 1 in 5 of us visiting a coffee shop everyday. Shaving 10-15 minutes off this routine would make a huge difference, especially if you have 3 or 4 cups a day like me. Just think what you could do in that extra half an hour.

And besides, wouldn’t we all be a little bit happier if this queueing wasn’t an issue? 8 out of 10 people say a fast-moving queue enhances their customer satisfaction, an eye-opening opportunity for many coffee shops. This is particularly relevant for the specialty outlets that attract a predictable morning throng of commuting coffee-lovers.

latte art

Coffee on demand brings a smile to everyone. 🙂 Credit: Pexels

So How Do We Beat The Queues?

“We Brits are famous for queuing, but in an age of such sophisticated technology – why wait?”

~ Ian Cranna, Starbucks’ VP Marketing & Category for EMEA

Where better to turn to for answers than the remedy to all our other inconveniences? Yes, I’m talking about technology. We’ve already seen self-service and contactless technologies improve queue time for many businesses. And personally, I welcome these advancements as they are fun to use and make my daily errands more efficient. So can technology be applied to reduce the coffee counter queue?

coffee and ipad

Coffee and technology: a match made in heaven. Credit: Pixabay

Industry powerhouse Starbucks has been throwing money and resources at solving the problem, and they may just have managed it with the release of their new Mobile Order & Pay (MOP) app. Forget coffee, they really are a technology company. MOP enables customers to order from anywhere using their smartphone and then skip straight to their freshly made order in the pick-up area. It allows customers to avoid all queues, which is estimated to save between 10-15 minutes each day. Could this recoup the time spent waiting for coffee?

The impact of smartphone ordering has obvious repercussions for baristas. Some might be wary of this change, but for the open-minded, there are upsides to this new system. Since the ordering and payment has already been taken care of,  it leaves baristas to focus on what they do best: making coffee. And for customers, it’s not only that they spend less time waiting. Having the customer name to hand ensures baristas can greet them warmly, topping off a personal experience.


Technology can help deliver a smile (and coffee). Credit: Flickr, David Hilowitz

The Race to The Front Has Started

This technology is now a reality. Starbucks has already implemented MOP in 7,400 US stores and announced the service for 150 London stores on the 1st October 2015 in celebration of International Coffee Day. This caffeinated roll-out plan highlights MOP’s success as customers relish the opportunity to save time (and show off this exciting technology to their friends).

It’s clear that, if used correctly, apps can attract new customers and offer tailored rewards for loyal regulars. Just like in food, mobile technology is about to vastly improve customer convenience, efficiency, and satisfaction in the coffee industry.

Yet there’s a danger with this, too. With the ubiquity of smartphones, coffee shops that don’t implement smartphone technology may one day find themselves struggling to compete. While the coffee may be better in specialty outlets, they run the risk of losing sales to the large chains as customers start to appreciate the benefits of mobile technology.

Our favourite local independent and specialty outlets may choose to think outside the box to produce rewarding mobile app experiences for consumers. Existing third party ordering and loyalty apps could open up some essential digital sales channels without too much investment.

Physical loyalty cards, long queues, and cash payments are set to become a thing of the past—to the benefit of consumer and barista alike. The coffee industry is primed for the mobile revolution to reach its doors and I, for one, hope to be first in line to witness this change. After all, these lines won’t be around for much longer!

Feature Photo Credit: Pexels

Perfect Daily Grind.