Starbucks App Brings Caffeinated Shot to Experience

Starbucks' iPhone app is robust and useful — but in need of streamlining.

This job takes me to a ton of coffee shops. Mobile journalism means mobile offices, and for me, that means local cafes and caffeine dens.

Oftentimes, I find myself at Starbucks locations for hours on end, which is why I was excited to try out the Starbucks iPhone App.

What does it do? For starters, the mapping function allows you to not only find the Starbucks near you, but also its hours, which is handy for us suburban nighthawks. You can also buy drinks by scanning your phone, which deducts money from gift cards you've stored in there. And you can keep a log of your favorite caffeine addictions (mine: chai latte — but does that even have caffeine?)


Other features let you browse food items, gather rewards points — even apply for Starbucks jobs.

Now, it's not a perfect app. In order to charge it up with money, you must first go to a physical location, buy a plastic Starbucks Card and then load all that information into your app.

Why not just allow users to enter a credit card number?

I went to three different locations before I found one that would even let me buy a card. The first two: the small cafe inside Northwestern University's , and the Starbucks kiosk inside an . No dice, until I found a .

I have to admit, were I not reviewing this app, I would have given up after the second location. But, now that I have it, I'm using it regularly. Bonus: Starbucks gives out codes each week inside their locations for free iTunes downloads. (I picked up a card for "The Monster at the End of this Book" starring Sesame Street's Grover.)

Starbucks, given its omnipresence in suburbia, could have itself a monster app. It's just not quite there yet.

Patch also has its own iPhone app, which will connect you to local news, weather, events and business listings in your town.

Robert K. Elder October 16, 2011 at 08:51 PM
Actually, I'm in the Brothers K an Kaffeine a ton -- and if they ever have an app, I'll definitely review it. And, FYI, we do run this column in Oak Park and the north shore suburbs, since I live and work in the both places. Thanks for the comments!
N. Ewald October 17, 2011 at 10:15 AM
Mr. Elder, A writer needs to proof-read every piece of work before clicking the "Submit" key; try it sometime. You might be surprised how much you learn about yourself and your writing. A professional journalist respects the reader. All the best, N. Ewald
Robert K. Elder October 17, 2011 at 12:12 PM
Dear N. Ewald -- We strive to have clean copy and someone did, indeed, copy edit this story. However, we are human and do, occasionally, miss things. If you'd like to point them out, we'd be grateful so that we may fix them. Thank you for your input. Rob
James Stoker October 17, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Rob, To answer what was probably a rhetorical question; yes, Chai lattes do contain caffeine. Most cafes I have worked in use Oregon brand Chai concentrate for their Chai Lattes. Its a reliable brand and a good value. According to the packaging, a 12oz Chai Latte will contain about 30-35mg per serving. Which is roughly the same amount as a cup of black tea, or a can of soda. This is of course assuming that each Barista is using a uniform ratio of milk to chai, which we are not. We eyeball stuff and give you more chai based off of how attractive we find you. Cheers, James
Robert K. Elder October 17, 2011 at 04:00 PM
Thank you for clearing that up, James. And I hope I'm coming out ahead on the attract-o-meter.


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