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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Looking for a Proper Cup of Coffee? Check Your iPhone

Posted By on Wed, Jan 5, 2011 at 3:41 PM


Blue Crow Media, aka Derek Lamberton, lives in London. When he worked for Current TV, he used to travel frequently to San Francisco. He spent so much time in both cities searching out new cafes and independent roasters that when he became unemployed, he decided to turn his info spreadsheets into a series of iPhone apps. Right before Christmas, Blue Crow Media launched "San Francisco's Best Coffee," a 99-cent app that provides a curated directory to small, independent coffee shops and local roasters.

Lamberton and a San Francisco associate have identified more than 50 cafes they think qualify for the app. "If they're serving independently roasted coffee and they use non-automatic machinery [to brew it]," he says, "that's the simple criteria. And then there's how much the baristas care about what they're doing." The two started by asking roasters like De La Paz, Four Barrel, and Barefoot which cafes they supplied, and then visited all of them to write up short descriptions, including the name of the coffee roaster that supplies them and the espresso machine they use.

The app lets you search an interactive map of San Francisco or look

up cafes by location, name, and Lamberton's ranking. It's a

comprehensive list ― I was impressed at its thoroughness, and identified a number of cafes in the north and

west parts of town to add to my own mental map. Keeping it up to date will remain a bit of a challenge. Lamberton is currently working on adding newcomers like Ma'Velous and

Contraband, and I had a couple of other recommendations (Lunch Geek for Barefoot, Coco-Luxe for Blue Bottle). Lamberton invites all users to rate the cafes, using a five-star

system, and tweet him at @bluecrowmedia

with suggestions for new cafes to add to the app.

He stresses, however, that the list of coffees the app profiles will remain curated. "When you open it up to user-submitted cafes" he says,

"then you get chains and everyone's favorite place around the corner. It gets a little messy." By making quarterly trips to San Francisco,

he hopes to keep the app up to date. And, just as soon as Lamberton finishes up

a New York version, he wants to roll out Android versions of the three

apps. And, in the meantime, look for a job.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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