CoffeeNotes Looks for Success on Kickstarter

A screen shot of the CoffeeNotes app brewing guide with sliders.
A screen shot of the CoffeeNotes app brewing guide with sliders.

A screen shot of the CoffeeNotes app brewing guide with sliders.

I just got an email a couple of days ago from inventor Greg Mayworm, whom I had a chance to meet at Coffee Fest Chicago, to let me know that the project he’s been working on for a couple of years now was ready to go to the funding stage. He was taking his app, CoffeeNotes, onto Kickstarter to reach his start-up goal and get his Android app out to market.

CoffeeNotes is a really cool idea, and in its beta form it’s already a powerful tool (I can’t wait to see it on iOS, but that’s dependent on reaching an even higher level of funding on Kickstarter.) The app not only allows users to share recipes and collect data on coffee consumption, trends, and more from around the world, but it also turns your smartphone into a grind analyzer (so that you can calibrate your grinder, or grinders in different stores) and a brew ration calculator (using either weight or volume.)

Check out this video from the CoffeeNotes Kickstarter page and you can see some of what Greg is aiming for with his app. It’s pretty awesome!

I had an opportunity to chat with Greg yesterday about CoffeeNotes, his goals for the app, and why he chose to launch it on Kickstarter. This is some of our conversation.

BMag: Why are you looking to crowd-sourcing for funding CoffeeNotes?

Greg:  I’ve spent over a year developing [the app], and this is the point where I find out if it’s valuable to the industry, and I think it is. [Crowd-sourcing means] making the connection to people to see the value in the project. I was trying to stay independent. That’s why I’m hoping to get a grassroots support for the project, and have a close tie-in with the people who support the project.

I’m really excited about what could come from this. I really want to give it a chance to be successful without going to corporate funding. The whole idea of crowd funding is you can stay independent and do amazing projects if you can stay independent. It’s changing the way funding will be in the future if this can be successful. It’s all about having support from the community you’re involved in.

BMag: What’s your goal with CoffeeNotes?

Greg: It’s industry changing in the sense that we haven’t had this tool before. [CoffeeNotes allows baristas and home brewers to] analyze their grinder to improve your brewing.

The other thing I’m finding is a lot of people who are in the business itself have used coffee brewing charts and they use those for coffee extraction and try to relate that to taste. The issue for me is to use grind size as a physical parameter that you as the barista can control whereas extraction you have to calculate that. I’m reversing the process to make it a process the barista can control. It makes sense to me to use grind distribution and particle size to compute taste.

The goal is to have all of the bewer parameters stored with the grind size (and TDS if you have it) with the post when you save it so the extraction model will only get better as more people contribute. I’m using an open API so that anyone with the app can participate. Anyone can post and you can retrieve the data. (Unless it’s private – if you don’t want to reveal your recipies.) The goal is to be able to share recipies accurately and to share experiences with different coffees and products.

BMag: How did you get involved in coffee?

Greg: My wife got into the coffee business roasting and supplying coffee in the local area (the suburbs of Chicago). It’s really for the love of coffee. When I do a project it’s a single focus. When I get into a project it consumes me. I’ve been working on it for two years. It’s just a matter of getting more data. I’ve got a lab [that I work in.] But I’m one person; I need more people to contribute [their experiences] to build it out.

BMag: Besides grinder calibration, what can a barista do with CoffeeNotes?

Greg:  If a barista had the app, they could actually custom make [a brewed] drink to the customer’s preference. The app does it all for you. You don’t have to keep all the numbers in your brain. If you’re doing the same thing every day and there’s no variation, you don’t have to worry about it. But if a customer has a different preference, however, the barista could customize the drink to their palate [by simply changing the parameters with the sliders on the app.]

CoffeeNotes in its initial stage will be targeted toward coffee professionals, but Greg envisions a second phase which will be aimed at consumers. Greg expects the basic brew guide version of the CoffeeNotes Android app will be priced at $9.00. The full version, which will do grind and particle analysis will run $49.00.

The CoffeeNotes Kickstarter goal is $20,000. Greg has until August 8 to reach it.  The CoffeeNotes Kickstarter page is here. The app’s homepage is here.

About the Author

Ken

Kenneth R. Olson is co-founder and publisher of Barista Magazine the worldwide trade magazine for the professional coffee community. He has written extensively about specialty coffee, traveled near and far for stories, activities, and fun, and been invited to present on topics important to coffee culture. He is also an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers and the Washington Huskies. Go Blazers! Go Dawgs!