It’s no secret that food and beverage-themed apps are beginning to dominate the unofficial “I don’t carry cash, anymore” section of your smartphone’s conveniently synced-up store. The trend is being well received by foodies who yearn to marry their love of the digestible with their proficiency of the technical. And, one company is cashing in with a new app called, “Cups”—which for the coffee drinkers among us can easily be understood to mean: “Cups, Cups, Cups.”
The application serves as a kind of Paypal for the caffeine-addicted, allowing subscribers to pre-purchase coffees from participating purveyors. No cash is exchanged in store; subscribers just provide a valid barcode and, in return, receive a piping hot cup of joe.
The Israeli company responsible for “Cups” first turned profits in Tel Aviv, and decided to bring the application to the United States this Spring. And, what better place to speed up business than always-on-the-go New York and its boroughs? Coffee demands are high and so are the prices.
According to an early subscriber, the company initially offered patrons a whole month of free, unlimited coffee, as a token of trend-spotting good faith. That unfortunately fleeting offer was valid at any of the participating neighborhood shops. Then, the number of participating shops was relatively low, but month-by-month, “Cups” is gaining a caffeine driven cult.
And, with a rising number of perked up participants, the cost of subscriptions are going up. In May, the New York Times reported that a month of drip coffee, deemed the “American Classic,” ran subscribers only $45. At this coffee-lovers estimation of $1.50 a pop if you have coffee everyday, that’s a pretty good deal. But, even then, the price of subscription varied depending on the type of coffee. The more labor-intensive concoctions, including cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, and the countless variations on espresso and milk combinations, cost cuppers almost twice as much as their drip coffee counterparts.
It’s unclear from the company’s website whether the American-tailored, $45 all-you-can drink, buffet style deal still exists. But, they do list a variety of packages that will appeal to any coffee shop regular.
Apparently, “Cups” isn’t all about profiteering off of New Yorker’s addiction to the bitter nectar of the gods, though. In part, the team designed the app to bring business to small, independent spots, while providing customers with a deal on their daily routine.
And, if their success is any indication, “Cups” does appear to be fueling a sense of community among Starbucks-hating, café-guzzling purists. On the website, they list the businesses that honor the app’s purchases; and, besides a few bigger names like “The Bean,” most of the shops are small operations producing their own brand of coffee consumption.
So, calculations and digitized exchange aside, there seems to be some warmth behind a “Cups” coffee. And, hey, as their iTunes advertisement says, the first drink is on them. The rest, you might want to get your calculator out for.
Head to our Did You Know section for more goings on in the food world here in NYC.
David is the resident nerd around these parts. Running a popular tech blog (TheUnlockr.com) for the past 6 years, he’s taken his over-analytical mind and made the transition to food.