Starbucks Passport App is the Untappd of Coffee


Photo via

Coffee connoisseurship has almost certainly gone mainstream, and the latest indication is the release of Starbuck’s “Coffee Passport” app to the general public. The app allows users to collect digital stickers in their coffee passport each time they try a new coffee (or a single-origin coffee from a new country), while recording tasting-notes and comments about the experience. The app also includes plenty of study materials to shrink the gap between coffee shop guest and trained barista, including a glossary, primer on cuppings, and tips on various brew methods.

Starbucks baristas have had a paper version of this idea since the mid 90s, and the app was pre-released to Starbucks staff a month ago. The idea of ‘collecting’ rare beverages on your phone pokemon-style has precedent with apps like Untappd (for craft beer) and Delectable (for wine). In general, these apps encourage users to expand their selection and provide an incentive to go for the “new” over the “tried-and-true.” This could ultimately hurt Starbucks, who have had a hard time breaking in to the niche coffee market, although they’ve indicated a plan to focus even more on rare, high end coffee in the future.

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The Lucky Bee Promises Both Flash and Substance in LES


Photo via The Lucky Bee’s Facebook page

Although they have no set opening date (Facebook messages promise “about two weeks”), The Lucky Bee on Broome street is already generating  exciting press for their Thai street-food/Asian-fusion concept. Conceived by Rupert Noffs and chef Matty Bennett (formerly of the Fat Radish), the Lucky Bee looks to be a brightly colored, design-heavy confection of a restaurant; the interior, menu and website are all splashed with neon pink, and in some cases they literally flash. But Noffs and Bennett have a more serious mission beyond the aesthetic, with a mission to provide original Thai-influenced cuisine not available anywhere else in Manhattan, and a major locavore bent.

And while the term “locavore” (or “farm-to-table”) might seem like more of an empty prerequisite than a real statement these days, The Lucky Bee is at least serious about respecting their namesake. The cocktail list features drinks made with local honey, and a dollar from each drink sold goes to the New York Beekeeper’s Association. They even hope to keep their own hive on the roof soon. With the troubling free fall of honey bee populations in the past few years, the pollinators could certainly use some PR men with as much design sense and culinary chops as Noffs and Bennett. Hopefully their momentum continues well past opening.

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UPDATE: The Lucky Bee is now open! They began serving dinner January 21st.