The Future Is Ordering on Your Phone

By March 6, 2013Food for thought

We use our phones for everything, including ordering coffee. Here we explore different reasons why ordering on your phone can be a reliable way to increase efficiency and business in your cafe.


Photos courtesy of SpeedETab

Think of any quick-service restaurant chain—like Panera or Starbucks—and they likely have a mobile app that allows customers to order coffee and food ahead of time. This sort of technology seems counterintuitive at first, especially with regards to the specialty-coffee community; don’t we want to talk to customers and engage with them face-to-face? A report by DMI, a company that helps brands build their mobile business, showed that from the top 10 apps that people download to order food and drink, two (Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts) were used to order coffee.

Modern consumers use their phones to order all sorts of food and drink items—including coffee. 

So what does that mean? Plainly speaking: People want to order and pay for coffee from their phones. “Consumer expectations continue to evolve,” shares Adam Garfield, founder of SpeedETab, an app that lets you order from hundreds of different coffee shops and food purveyors before coming in to pick up your order. In March, SpeedETab announced its collaboration with Panther Coffee in Miami, and created a branded app specifically for ordering coffee at any of Panther’s three locations. “The Panther Coffee app, available for free on iOS, lets customers view Panther locations near them, browse their full menu, and customize their order,” a press release states.

Initially one might seem skeptical of a coffee-ordering app, but the Panther mobile app is meant to make ordering coffee more efficient while meeting the expectations of customers who are relying more and more on their mobile devices. “We’re just as committed to our customer experience as we are to making great coffee,” shares Leticia Ramos-Pollock, co-owner of Panther Coffee. “The Panther Coffee app will help streamline our ordering process while allowing us to build a stronger relationship with our customers.” The app leaves little room for error, since baristas will be able to refer to a patron’s order on a tablet that receives the order in the store. And because the app takes care of payment, customers can get their drinks quickly without waiting in line.

SpeedETab has partnered with Panther Coffee to release a branded ordering app. Patrons order and pay on their phones, then walk in and pick up their finished drinks.

“If you think about it, customers aren’t getting any face time with baristas when they’re waiting in line,” Adam notes when asked about interactions between baristas and customers. “SpeedETab can act like a concierge service—I see an order has come in with someone’s name, and I can then build a relationship with a customer because I know their name and their order before they even walk in.” Adam also hopes the app can help bring in new customers who might be intimidated by specialty-coffee shops, allowing users to look at the menu on their own time without feeling the pressure of walking into an unfamiliar space and making a decision as they wait in line.

If you’re worried about tips, SpeedETab operates much like Square or other POS systems, prompting users to leave a gratuity during the transaction. “We’ve found that people leave on average about an 18 percent tip,” Adam shares. And while the app has answered a lot of questions and concerns the barista community might have about tipping or customer interaction, its main goal is to improve efficiency for small-scale companies. “I think that what we’re doing is trying to help all coffee businesses keep up with their consumers’ expectations no matter their size,” shares Adam. The platform can be used by any business—Panther has a branded app, but other cafes in Miami such as ALL DAY also use the platform.

This probably isn’t the first you’ve heard of coffee-ordering apps, and there are plenty of other platforms that have utilized this model: CUPS is one of the most widely used apps that helps consumers order and pay for coffee, and many cafes work with large ordering apps like GrubHub. But the idea of ordering coffee online or on your phone has been seen as unfathomable for some and perhaps undesirable for others. However, as more and more people rely on their phones, considering an ordering or payment app is an interesting way to adapt to your consumers’ needs and improve workflow and efficiency.

Ashley Rodriguez
About Ashley Rodriguez 113 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She’s a barista based in the Bay Area. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at

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