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App Alert: Conversational Reviews from Multiple Search Angles with Hot Coffee App

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To the increasingly crowded coffee app landscape comes Hot Coffee App, a web-app creation from business partners Dalton Kane and Nick Stevens.

In a nutshell, the review-based web-app is designed to provide several ways to search for roasted, packaged coffees. Roasters submit coffees for review, the Hot Coffee App team tastes them using various brew methods. Hot Coffee provides a brief review and tags coffees with tasting notes, regions of origin and ideal brewing methods, plus recipes. Those identifiers become searchable tags.

“Other review based sites seemed to be a little lacking when it came to usability as a searchable interface,” Kane recently told Daily Coffee News. “We didn’t want to just be another group of people that reviewed coffee — we wanted people to have a whole new way of finding coffee and spreading awareness of different roasters and roasts.”

Following 100-point-scale-rating, the reviews themselves are mostly conversational, a bit loosey-goosey compared to traditional reviews. Here are some excerpts:

On Gimme! Coffee’s Kenya Nyeri:

Notes: Kenyans of 2015 are the best thing in existence. It’s possible that this is an exaggeration–but there’s no way of really knowing. Gimme! shines in their offering of the Kenya Nyeri. It’s hard to even explain what you’re tasting. You just know that it’s good. In our blind cupping of this coffee, it’s the first word that came out of our mouths. Kenya. If you’re looking for sweetness that’s refreshing, and not overwhelmingly uniform in its taste–this offering won’t disappoint. And that’s probably because it’s an SL-28.

Who Should Drink This: The lonesome man in 32 degree weather wearing his worn-out flip flops from 2003.

On Halfwit Coffee Roasters’ Ethiopia Gera:

Notes: HalfWit has the best bags we’ve ever seen. Seriously. If we had an award for design, they’d get it. And if we ever come up with this kind of reward system, call us on it. They deserve a big fat gold star. (If you find any big fat gold stars, please let us know.) We expected fruit out of this cup; it’s Ethiopian. But we were relieved it wasn’t blueberry or tropical. They sourced well. And, we’ll admit it… we prefer coffee that tastes like green grapes way more than we like plain ol’ green grapes.

Who Should Drink This: Warby Parker owners. We can’t imagine soccer moms will understand this kind of coffee. (Sorry, Mom.)

We asked Kane about the app and, specifically, how the review process goes down:

Who is behind the reviews?

There are a few people involved, but “behind” would be myself, Dalton Kane, and Nick Stevens. We are the co-founders of Hot Coffee. I handle the boring stuff, sorta all the business, development, marketing, etc. Nick is sort of heart and soul of the actual reviews. He heads up our team of reviewers, edits the reviews, makes sure everyone is following procedure for consistency, etc.

Our review team is made up of trained baristas, who received their training through various programs, though Nick makes sure that regardless of whether they trained with Intelli or the local craft coffee shop, they understand the SCAA Cupping Standards and have the palate for our process.

Are you formally cupping the coffees?

Yes, we are. But our process doesn’t end at cupping, since we don’t believe that is sufficient for our readership. We chose a more holistic review process that continues on into the brewing evaluation, going so far as to try multiple methods, pick our favorite and give our specific recipe. After all, consumers are more interested in how to make a delicious cup of coffee, as opposed to the result of a cupping alone. The full review process is rigid and consistent as possible, though we’ve taken great measures to make it reader-friendly.

How do you see the app growing?

Our goals for this web app are to, data-wise, make things searchable in a way that creates exploration of roasts and cross-pollinates roasters from all over the world. That’s why we have and are continuing to develop new search functions like tasting notes, brew methods, region, roaster, score, etc. We also hope to help fight off the ostracization of individuals who don’t, say, have a refractometer lying around the kitchen. We hope that coffee culture will to continue to grow and invite as many people to be a part of that as possible.

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