Vanderbilt Student-Designed App Unites Coffee Community

You may like your coffee in the morning, but chances are you don’t savor it as much as Sam Reilly, an intern at The Vanderbilt Institute for Coffee Studies who is marketing his new app for lovers of a good cup of joe.

Reilly prefers “coffee that is sourced from a specific farm within a specific region in a specific country,” says the senior Vanderbilt University history and political science major from Atlanta. “So the hyper-sourced coffees are the ones I like the best.”

The app – dubbed Fika, the Swedish word for coffee break – allows coffee lovers to connect, share news about the best coffees and shops and read reviews by Fika coffee enthusiasts. It was developed from Reilly’s idea with support from The Vanderbilt Institute for Coffee Studies and co-founder and developer Andrew Bachman, a Vanderbilt student who has since graduated. The tagline for the app is “Discover, Drink, Share.”

Every two weeks, Fika posts the lowdown on the coffee scene in a different city or area. Atlanta, Maine and Nashville are among those that have been reviewed so far. Many times the coffees they highlight come from small overseas farmers who use coffee bean farming to lift themselves out of poverty.

Edward Fischer, director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt and professor of anthropology, says the app is “a great idea.” An intern at The Institute for Coffee Studies last year arranged for Fischer and Reilly to meet over (you guessed it) a cup of coffee. Reilly signed on as the institute’s intern this year.

“This is the perfect kind of thing for us at the institute,” Fischer says. “Sam is able to further his education with our help. We’re able to do this in service of poor farmers around the world who are producing coffee, and Sam is able to do something entrepreneurial at the same time.

“Three birds with one stone.”