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The Best Coffee Shop Apps To Make Your Business Stand Out

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Tessa ZuluagaAuthor

3 in 4 Americans drink coffee every day (74%). So as a coffee shop owner, how can you make sure your coffee shop stands out from the competition?

The answer is a coffee shop app. The fact of the matter is that people don’t have time to wait around in the mornings. They want to be able to order ahead and gain loyalty points at their coffee shop. Because coffee is something consumers drink every single day, you want guests to choose your shop as their regular, daily spot. 

Creating an app for your business is a fantastic option to stay competitive. However, it’s crucial you leverage your app strategically to get your brand out there. In this article, we’ll: 

  • Review the best coffee shop mobile apps for inspiration

  • Point out apps your business can use to improve operations 

  • Discuss apps available to better your marketing 

Ready? Let’s get started.

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Best coffee shop apps

Interested in building an app for your coffee shop? Gain inspiration from the best coffee apps and loyalty programs below.

Starbucks

Although Starbucks is no small business, its app is one of the best on the market. Users can easily locate the nearest location to them (basically on every street), order ahead, and gain loyalty “stars” to use as future discounts. Starbucks app users can also receive notifications about new seasonal menus, and reload money onto their app. The user experience is so simple, and the branding is on point. 

We’re not saying you need to give Starbucks more business, but you can take some inspiration from their success.

Dunkin’

Okay, you knew this was coming too. 

No small business inspiration here. However, Dunkin’ Donuts has a fantastic app. Not only do they have a loyalty point program, but they also offer daily promotions like, “Order ahead on Monday for a $2 iced coffee”. It basically forces people to buy from them with their amazing deals. 

The user experience is great, and unlike Starbucks, they don’t force you to reload your card with at least $10. Dunkin’ has a great app that consistently drives repeat visits.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Here we go! Real coffee lovers know Blue Bottle serves up some delicious cold brew and specialty coffees. If you’re looking for minimal aesthetic inspiration, Blue Bottle will get you right! 

This app allows guests to skip the line and order ahead, customize their drinks, and pay ahead of time. It’s a pretty app with amazing branding – there’s absolutely no mistaking it for a competitor.

Blank Street Coffee

Coffee enthusiasts love Blank Street Coffee. Blank Street is really for the city girlies; their branding emphasizes this. 

They also offer a “Regulars” membership, where users can subscribe and pay a monthly price, starting at $8.99/week. This subscription includes drinks up to every 2 hours, members-only access to partner discounts, and early access to new launches. This is an effective model if your cafe has frequent flyers.

Empire Tea & Coffee

Empire Tea & Coffee is a smaller business with 3 locations in Rhode Island. One great thing about this mobile ordering app is it features a nice referral program. Customers are incentivized to refer new users to their app, as both sides get $2 off their next app order when they sign up. Users can make as many referrals as they want – an effective strategy to market to new customers.

Best apps for your operations

Beyond iOS apps that enable guests to order from local coffee shops, there are many other useful apps. These apps have been designed to help coffee shop owners streamline their operations, manage orders, and connect with customers. Here are some popular and highly-rated coffee shop apps for operations.

US Foods

When it comes to working in a small kitchen or sandwich line, food delivery and prep are crucial. US Foods Online and mobile apps are powerfully equipped to help your cafe business. The app is available in multiple languages and contains easy-to-use features. They make it simple to order and search for products, look at offers and recommendations, track deliveries, and more. We also highly recommend checking out their business tools and resources.

Toast

From pulling espresso shots to pulling reports, it’s all simpler with an all-in-one platform designed specifically for cafes and bakeries. Toast can help simplify your ordering taking process enabling you to focus on what matters, serving great coffee and food. Don’t believe us yet? Check out what customers are already saying,

“As a bakery, Toast has been a game changer.” With Catering Online Ordering, the entire team saves time. It gives us a bit more control as we can set longer lead times and higher minimum order size.”

- Steven Rennau, Director of Operations at Toni Patisserie & Cafe

Toast also offers the Toast Now App and Toast Takeout. Toast Now is a mobile app your managers and operators can use on the go. With Toast Now you can get live sales and labor data, manage your delivery channels, and communicate with your team, all from your mobile phone. 

Next. the Toast Takeout App is a stellar option for businesses that don’t want to invest in creating their own app. Become a Toast customer and let your guests order ahead through Toast.

Spot Illustration Toast Now

In the know. In control. On the go.

Get live sales and labor data, manage your delivery channels, communicate with your team, all from your mobile phone.

Beli

Beli is a great option to check on feedback. Beli is an app where guests track what restaurants they’ve tried, what their favorite menu items were, and what similar spots they should try. This is the perfect app for your coffee shop to gain insight into what’s working and what’s not. It has a specific category for coffee shops and bakeries! Check out people’s ratings of your menu and what their favorites are. This information will help you run promotions, update your menu, and so much more!

Best apps for marketing

With great competition comes great marketing. These apps can help cafes and bakeries simplify this process and get the word out about your amazing business.

MailChimp

Email marketing is a great wait to establish your coffee shop brand. Whether you’re just starting out or have been around for years, MailChimp gives you the ability to create campaigns that will reach your target audience. Mailchimp is a marketing automation and email marketing platform. This app gives you the ability to create a customer journey that enables you to map out personalized experiences based on how people interact with your business. If you’re interested in email marketing, especially to announce weekly or monthly specials, MailChimp is a great app for you.

Instagram

Your demographic will vary based on factors like where you’re located, what you offer, and your overall brand. Instagram gives you a simple way to interact with your target audience and the ability to market directly to them. You can share your daily specials & happenings on your story, unique behind-the-scenes looks at how you operate, and even share your menu if you routinely switch things up.

Twitter

Having an established social media presence for your business is all about engaging with your customers. Twitter is a great platform for interacting with your followers. You can tweet out what’s happening at your coffee shop that day, and then respond to follow-up questions. This app is a great option for your regulars to follow to keep up with your events, specials, and promotions.

TikTok

TikTok is a video creation and sharing app, where users love to post about and discover new food businesses. Over the last few years, consumer trends have pointed to a few popular cafe specials that do extremely well, no matter the location.

Some of the trendiest coffee shop TikTok videos in 2023 feature:

  • Content acting out “usuals” and their orders

  • Baristas making beautiful latte art

  • Most aesthetically pleasing-looking shops

  • Coffee shops that offer free wifi and working spaces

  • Amazing-looking breakfast sandwiches

Capture video footage of your most popular offerings and post them on the TikTok app. This is where foodies go to discover new, delicious offerings. It only takes one strong TikTok to go completely viral. It’s worth a shot!

Toast for coffee shops

Use these apps for inspiration for your own mobile ordering system. It’s crucial to stay up to date with modern cafe technology and use a POS system that can keep up the morning rush. Toast offers solutions built for every budget. Check out how Toast can start streamlining your operations today here. Also, check out these related articles for your cafe business:

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.