UX/UI Case Study: Fixing usability for specialty coffee guides

Marius Grigore
17 min readMar 23, 2021


Overview | You save me from bad coffee, I save you from bad UX | Who needs a saviour? | Reality check | Role and process


I can’t stand bad coffee. Good coffee is so easy to make, yet 99% of all coffee places make a poor job of it. Bad coffee can ruin my day.

Because I had no guide for specialty cafés, I’ve slowly developed heuristics to help me decide if a place is worth even trying. Eventually, a North London barista told me about the Best Coffee Guide [abbr. BCG] and my coffee life changed ever since. BCG saved me from bad coffee.

Disclaimer: I’m in no way affiliated with BCG.

But the BCG app has some flaws:

Testing with five users is said to reveal the most frequent usability problems

Since they saved me from bad coffee, I wanted to save them from bad UX — this case study is about increasing the number of premium accounts with the least effort. A quick heuristic evaluation also shows a number of critical usability problems while using the app — and I’ve chosen to look deeper at the ones that can be solved with UX.

Challenge of a challenge

I thought doing a case study to improve a specialty coffee guide would be a win for everyone in the specialty niche. I wrote BCG to tell them about the case study I planned and waited several weeks for an answer. Getting no reply was a clue in itself — I’ve learned that creating a win-win for everyone was the first assumption I had to test. So I built a mindmap to find out where my intention was in the grand scheme of coffee things.

Who would have thought specialty coffee can be so overly complicated?

The mindmap bounced me back to a more skeptical approach where I would investigate:

  1. whether cafés are happy that such guides exist;
  2. if cafés don’t want to promote such guides, what are other…



Marius Grigore

I am a UX designer with a background in computer science and technical design. I have a tireless interest in psychology, coffee and usability testing.