Deja Brew: Transforming the Coffee Experience

by Margaret Sun

Our Client

Jessie, Kongyun’s friend, is a coffee expert and researcher at UC Davis. Jessie’s interview indicated she had trouble finding a platform to share her expertise with the general public. While her research emphasizes attention to temperature, equipment, and timing in brewing coffee, most coffee distributors and drinkers do not uphold these standards in their products.

We distilled Jessie’s needs into 3 points:

  1. Generalizing the coffee experience: paying more attention to how coffee can complement individual flavor palettes through pairing coffee with other foods
  2. Making expertise accessible: spreading an understanding of coffee flavors to inform brewing and purchasing habits
  3. Making time to appreciate coffee: inspiring drinkers to think more and appreciate a common ritual

Accounting for these needs, our team developed an app, “Deja Brew” for Jessie to share her expertise, and gather communities of coffee experts and regular drinkers alike to “journal” their coffee intake. A launch of Deja Brew during this particular time would help us meet Jessie’s needs.

Whether it is quarantine workouts, online dance classes, new recipes, or even rise in usership of apps like Duolingo, many are making active efforts to maintain routines and create habits despite the unusual time. While typically, morning coffee may be something rushed, given current circumstances, Deja Brew offers users an experience particularly welcome when the world is in a state of uncertainty. “Deja Brew” aims to inspire a bit of calm, encouraging users to meditate upon a common morning ritual when social distancing has uprooted our habits and priorities. 

Deja Brew

Full Deja Brew Demo HERE

Deja Brew is an app that makes coffee expertise accessible to the regular coffee user. The bright, clean interface is a departure from past rating or coffee review apps. While previous apps like RateBeer or Roast Ratings overwhelm users with words from experts, discouraging participation from typical consumers, Deja Brew’s interface exemplifies physiopleasure and invites user input. The colors draw from the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s “Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel” Jessie shared. With a few simple clicks, users can detail and share their coffee experience in a “coffee journal”. 

Deja Brew creates sociopleasure through interactions between the community of “verified users”, specialists like Jessie, and regular coffee consumers. Through sharing and exchanging tips on delicious coffee pairings, optimal brewing techniques, and insights on flavor notes of beans, users not only appreciate coffee more, but can inspire each other to be more appreciative of their morning brew. Users access ideopleasure through self-reflection, contemplating their coffee, and learning more about it through the News and Explore features. The “Coffee Journal” streak feature enhances reflective design, as personal satisfaction accumulates with consecutive contribution to the app. 

Given more time, we would love to include a Kiva integration to encourage the virtue aspect of inspiration. In Jessie’s interview, we talked briefly about coffee sourcing. Using a crowdsourced microloans platform like Kiva, Deja Brew hopes to bypass middlemen that often profit off of the coffee supply chain, and contribute directly to local growers and coffee entrepreneurs. If users add to the journal consecutively for a week, Deja Brew would allow donation to chosen efforts on the user’s behalf.

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Su Yang April 13, 2020 - 1:51 pm

As an avid coffee drinker, I love this idea! Something I’d find really helpful is product recommendations; I think it’d be pretty cool if I could input the coffee brands/types I currently love, and get suggestions from other users with similar preferences. I also appreciate the giving back aspect of this–the potential to connect consumers directly to local producers and entrepreneurs is really exciting and definitely something I’d be willing to pay slightly more for.

Vivian Zhou April 13, 2020 - 2:14 pm

As someone who enjoys the occasional cold brew or latte, I feel like there is huge potential for my enjoyment of coffee products, but at the same time I know the least about coffee, different types, different preparations, etc. I have always wanted to become more well-versed and knowledgeable, but it seems like a difficult topic to tackle and I wouldn’t even know where to start something like this might be useful for someone like me! I also think an interesting direction this app could go is to highlight the ethics behind coffee. As a commodity good that is grown in bulk and has a history and supply chain of production being concentrated in specific parts of the world and exported to a different part of the world, where the profit is concentrated. This dynamics this brings up are interesting, pose interesting ethical questions, and are often under-discussed, and this could be a cool topic to highlight on the platform.

Nynika Jhaveri April 13, 2020 - 2:59 pm

I think the specificity of this app is really great especially alongside the beautiful visuals. Given that this is app is also for novices to learn from – I wonder if you could also have a glossary/short tutorials to start off with – with just the basics (why to use a French press instead of Bialetti etc?). There are a few wine apps that also have functions you could reconfigure (Vivino allows you to scan products and get reviews, etc).

Anthony DeNitto April 13, 2020 - 10:06 pm

I personally don’t drink coffee, but my brother does, and he would love if this app existed. A place where he can share his thoughts with other enthusiasts.

Adam Moqrane April 13, 2020 - 10:13 pm

Really cool idea would 100% use this. One fundamental thing I would add is some custom information for people securing different types of beans in terms of where to purchase– also not just the equipment with the grinds but also using preground/a grinder makes a big difference so maybe a way to implement that too?

Nourhan Shaaban April 13, 2020 - 10:38 pm

I personally care about coffee and would love to learn more, so this app satisfies a need I have. I would be curious to see others’ (friends) profiles: for example, how do they brew their coffee? Do you like your coffee with milk? Etc. I know of many friend groups that are clustered around a love for coffee and bringing this social element to the app could be interesting.

Nan Yang April 13, 2020 - 11:02 pm

First of all, it is so graphically appealing! Coffee used to be a very sophisticated field (still kind of) for me. The app makes the experience accessible and very informative! I would love to learn more about coffee in this platform! Also, self-isolation makes things harder than before; I find this community very soothing and stress relief! Instead of seeking connections, it might also be a path to find inner peace and enjoy something alone. I guess another version to share the experience with tea would also be fascinating! Looking forward to seeing it comes true.

TJ Song April 14, 2020 - 1:20 am

I really like this project! Especially the “Coffee Journal”, I like the aspect of reflection and remembering the quality and experience of different coffees/places. I think a cool integration would be for a small fill out with flavor profiles (there is a whole world of nuanced coffee smells/tastes just like liquor) so that others can actually somewhat picture what the flavor was like, especially useful/relevant to those who drink a lot of coffee , and so also more likely to use this app.

Lauren Toman April 14, 2020 - 1:31 am

As a coffee addict, I feel pretty ashamed that I know nothing about the beverage I drink 5 cup a day of (no lie). I would love to have this knowledge and follow experts suggestions to brew the perfect cup. It would be really cool to also highlight some coffee shops that are known to have great coffee or divide reviews up to suggest specific coffee roasters or beans. If you make this, PLEASE let me know.

Gabe Ziaukas April 14, 2020 - 1:54 am

I really like how this elevates such an otherwise mundane part of people’s routines into something special and exciting. I think this would work great in tandem with advertisements from artisanal coffee brands that are looking to connect with experts, and drinkers that want to upgrade their coffee experience.

Eleanor Blum April 14, 2020 - 3:14 am

I think this is a great idea and I would absolutely want to use it. There are definite barriers to entry to becoming a coffee connoisseur and it isn’t obvious where to efficiently learn what my own preferences are. I also think the design and color scheme are really beautiful. I wonder if there is a way to facilitate some sort of sampling process so that users can test a variety of coffees without committing to a whole package.

Danielle Green April 14, 2020 - 4:30 am

I really love this idea! It feels original: a social network for the coffee enthusiast, both casual and connoisseur. I don’t think we’ve really had a product that digitizes or virtualizes the coffeeshop. We need something that enables playful discourse around it! Coffee is a commodity with such a long and rich history in our world that I feel a community like this is really validated. I think our best friendships are built and forged on shared interests and values. Visually, I also like the use of iconography in your prototype! The name is cute and catchy.

Adam Gordon April 14, 2020 - 6:42 am

This is something I would definitely need! I am an avid coffee drinker, and I think that this would be a fantastic way to learn about what I was drinking. I also think it might be interesting to learn about what my friends were drinking.

Emily Koch April 14, 2020 - 9:58 pm

As someone who loves coffee but does not have the insight to dive into the art of coffee, I think this app would be a really good tool to change my behavior around coffee and develop more of an appreciation around it.

Ana Maria Delmar April 15, 2020 - 4:13 am

I love this idea because I adore coffee and love learning about the nuances between different types of beans and roasts and different countries etc… So this would be so useful personally to expand my knowledge in a fun and practical way. In general in the USA, your average coffee is going to be terrible, so having an app like this is amazing for people to learn about coffee so that they can make better coffee at home. I can’t explain how much money I have saved by making my own coffee at home with good beans and a simple stovetop Bialetti machine, and how much more delicious it is than a terrible mainstream coffee (like starbucks) or an overpriced trendy cafe cup of coffee (like Tatte, Blue Bottle…) . I like that this can make coffee culture more approachable and universal- because people shouldn’t have to drink sh*tty coffee when it’s easy to make great coffee through informing yourself minimally through a platform like this!

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