Photo: Trade Coffee Co.

Finding a soulmate can be hard — but what about finding your coffee soulmate? A new app from Trade Coffee Co. wants to help java lovers of all stripes discover the coffee of their dreams.

Dubbed “The Hookup” (cringe), the service starts by asking users answer 6 basic questions about their coffee experience level, preferred brew method, desired roast level, and coffee order (black, cream, sugar, etc.). As a snobby ex-barista, I was surprised to see the option for ground coffee (grind it yourself, guys!), but hey — I guess can’t blame Trade for trying to capture a wider audience.

After submitting their answers, users get a custom coffee recommendation from one of 50 different roasters. They can either purchase the coffee through Trade, or sign up for a subscription service which will deliver tailored coffee options ever 7, 14, or 21 days. All coffees cost between $12 and $20 — pretty average for specialty brews — and shipping is free. After tasting the coffee, users can submit feedback to the Hookup, which will then adjust their profile and inform future coffee shipments.

Photo: Trade Coffee Co.

Based on my answers, I was recommended an Ethiopian coffee from San Francisco-based roaster Sightglass as “The One.” The beans are $19, which is on the high side but not unusual for specialty coffee. After entering in my payment information Trade Coffee Co. offered me the option to let something called “Probot” manage my next order and give me recommendations and shipping updates over text.

In addition to coffee beans, Trade Coffee Co. also sells coffee brewing equipment and offers how-to tutorials for a variety of brew methods, from French Press to Pourover. Interestingly, in researching this article I discovered that the site is owned by JAB Holding, the coffee-hungry corporation which also lays claim to Peet’s, Intelligensia (which is prominently featured on the Trade site, hm…), Keurig and Panera, among others. Trade offers a new channel for JAB to reach haute coffee consumers, and also draws in more customers with its promise of curation and personalization.

In that way, The Hookup puts me in mind of wine discovery and recommendation apps, such as Wine-Searcher and Vivino. Like wine, specialty coffee can be intimidating — not everyone knows exactly which roast they like, or what country produces their favorite single origin. The Hookup is an easy, fun way to discover some new coffee beans in a super low-touch way.

While its services might be a bit scattershot and “mainstream” for true coffee connoisseurs — and a bit pricey for those who just drink it for the caffeine — I’d say The Hookup is actually a pretty helpful service for the majority of java drinkers (silly name aside). It would be a great service for people who want to up their coffee game but aren’t sure how to start, or those who already like specialty coffee but don’t want to spend the time or energy seeking it out.

If you’re curious about how technology is changing the way we grow, source, discover, and drink coffee, don’t miss Nate Gilliland of Bellwether Coffee’s solo talk at the Smart Kitchen Summit this October, entitled “From Soil to Sip: Disruptions in the Coffee Value Chain.” Get your tickets here!

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