Sunday, June 20, 2010

GPS Coffee: Finding new cafes

Returning from a weekend excursion, I found the GPS a useful tool in locating coffee shops. Any Garmin, Tom Tom, GPS device, or smartphone with GPS capability that can search for POI's (points of interest) will work.

Using the "Search for nearby POI" in the Tom Tom, I typed in "coffee," yielding five or more cafes to visit: all of them being local and non-chain stores. Remember: By typing in coffee, the search will only come back with "coffee" in the business's title, skipping places without coffee in the title. By searching and visiting local coffee shops, it added a nice break from a 3-4 hour road trip, allowing us to visit an off-beat, local cafe. The actual place we visited was a bit disappointing. The espresso was lukewarm! They should have read my espresso cups post, specifically heating up the cups before espresso is brewed. Doing a GPS visit, one may have duds, but for all the duds one quality cafe will be worth the detour.

If one doesn't have a GPS, using Google Maps and searching for coffees places before embarking on a road trip can act as a stand-in.


  1. Being the Coffee Tech at Mocha Joe's, I'm on the road a lot. I don't have a GPS equipped vehicle but I do have an iPhone and there are three great apps for finding local coffee shops.

    My favorite is Yelp! because of the user reviews. You can search for all nearby coffee shops, figure out how close they are to you, read reviews and get directions.

    Urbanspoon is very similar to Yelp! but doesn't seem to have as many businesses and sometimes I find the info is not up to date.

    The other app is called AroundMe and seems to be powered by Google business directories. It's not as helpful because it doesn't have reviews but it will help you find something in a pinch.

    If you own a cafe, I would highly recommend taking ownership of your Yelp! business page and trying to increase your reviews. It's easy to do and will help people find your business when they are on the road.

  2. Interesting, I heard of Yelp and Urbanspoon, but I will have to check out AroundMe. I have used Yelp before, but for some reason I never connected the two before on a roadtrip scenario. Nice!

    Unfortunately I have been recalcitrant on getting a smartphone, I haven't been able to stomach the 80$ a month.

  3. The price for AT&T is going down a little, they are changing the way they charge for the data plans, so if you can limit your data usage, you can pay a little less per month but it's still expensive.

    I felt the same way until I got one. I primarily use it for business and it's great. I'm absolutely sure though that if it was just a personal phone and not a business expense, I couldn't justify spending the money on it.