I am a self-admitted coffee snob, but I’m fully aware that most people don’t want to put the time and effort into the minute measuring, timing, and coordination that it takes to make a top-notch cup of joe.
However, if you are one of those people — or want to become one — Filtru was made for you. The Manchester, U.K.-based startup has a mobile app which walks users step-by-step through the coffee brewing process.
Founder (and sole employee) Bobby Bobak came up with the idea for Filtru shortly after he got an Apple Watch. A developer by day, he was also a serious coffee nerd, and wanted to create a step by step timer which would tap you on your wrist to indicate when to stir and pour in the brewing process. He launched the app in early 2016.
When you open the Filtru app you’re greeted with nine coffee brewing methods, from AeroPress to Chemex to French Press. Each choice leads you to a page with a quick brew guide, including grind size, the weight of coffee needed for a single serving, and water temperature and volume. There’s also a “how to” section so new brewers can figure out how to use that Moka Pot or Kalita Wave.
Once your ingredients are prepped, press the ‘Play’ button to start the timer. The app will walk you through each step of the brewing process, buzzing to indicate when to move onto the next task. “Sort of like being guided by a barista,” Bobak explained to me over the phone.
If you want to take it up a notch, Filtru also syncs with three bluetooth-enabled scales (with a fourth option in the works) to guide your brew with even more detail — telling when you’re pouring too fast, too slow, or at just the right rate. Which seems like a small detail, but my barista training taught me that water flow rate can actually make a noticeable difference to your end cup.
You may be thinking: “Whoa, this is way more detail than I ever want to think about when making coffee.” And if that’s the case, let’s be clear: Filtru is probably not for you. I should also say that it really doesn’t make sense to use Filtru if you don’t have a kitchen scale, since all the steps are indicated in weight. (Side note: you should get a kitchen scale — they’re inexpensive and make baking such a breeze.)
But if you are looking to up your coffee game, Filtru is a nice option that provides a lot of hand-holding — and clean, attractive graphics — along the way. Novice brewers can stick to the brew “recipes” already on the app, and experienced coffee nerds can take matters into their own hands and record their specialized brew methods, then share them on the app or social media. Eventually, Bobak wants Filtru to have a community library of brew recipes for anyone to peruse and try for themselves.
Bobak is also exploring ways to add augmented reality (AR) elements to Filtru to help users assemble their new coffee makers, and leverage machine learning to automatically record new brew recipes through scale data.
At the moment, Filtru is free to use, and Bobak told me that he’s looking at the possibility of monetizing the app by integrating a shop aspect. Users would have the option buy the various coffee makers, filter papers, and even coffee beans through a single tap, and Filtru would get a cut of every product sold through the app.
In many ways, Filtru is similar to other brew recipe-recording apps, most notably Acaia Coffee, which also syncs to bluetooth-enabled scales. But Acaia only works with its own coffee scales, and is meant to act as a platform for coffee obsessives to record and share their recipes. Filtru, on the other hand, has a wider audience appeal. According to Bobak, roughly half of its users opt to use the pre-set coffee brew recipes, which he takes to indicate that they’re new(er) to the high-tech homebrew game.
Filtru has over 3,000 monthly active users and has been downloaded about 27,000 times since it launched. Currently, it’s only available for iPhone’s OS, but Bobak said there was an Android version in the works.
When Bobak developed Filtru, he wanted to explore one thing: “How can tech improve the end user experience of coffee?” This is a question a lot of companies we’ve covered on the Spoon — an IoT-enabled coffee brewer, a countertop coffee bean roaster, and an electric vacuum brewing system, among others — are trying to answer.
Filtru may have a niche audience, but it’s free, user-friendly, and versatile; plus it doesn’t take up any counter space. I for one tried it and ended up with a pretty great cup of coffee. While I don’t think I’ll use it every single morning, it was super accessible and easy to figure out. Next time I’m brewing coffee with an unfamiliar tool — I see you, moka pot — I’ll definitely use Filtru as my guide.