November 20, 2013 Last Updated 10:47 am

Pour a cup of coffee and read about coffee on your iPad

A look at a category filled with small magazine titles, published often as a labor of love

Once upon a time I used to be the publisher of a coffee magazine. It was, at the time, one of nine magazines that the owner of the company had put me in charge of, but it was one of the better and more interesting titles.

Coffee-iPad-lgCoffee is spectacularly popular the world over. But coffee magazines are not exactly a category with cash cows it it. The reason is simply that the biggest coffee retailers are grocery stores, and so those that sell coffee treat the category has just another CPG product.

But that is not to say that there are not a lot of companies in the category. There is a specialty coffee trade show in the U.S., and the specialty and natural food shows feature the category (and tea), as well.

But, for the most part, those that publish print magazines in the category are usually more interested in coffee than publishing. If they didn’t publish a coffee magazine then they probably wouldn’t publishing anything. The same is probably true for digital magazines, as well.

One of the first I’ve seen was Coffee Lovers Magazine, published by Joseph Robertson, which uses the MagCast platform to create its Newsstand app.

Another that is using MagCast is Coffee Magazine. Actually, its full title is Coffee Magazine – Your Guide To Coffee and Espresso at Home.

Both of these magazines point to the problem with creating a profitable magazine out of the category, who is the real target audience – coffee drinkers, coffee buyers, retailers, cafés, baristas, etc. Unlike wine, coffee does not lend itself to a gourmet or collector approach. There is no Wine Spectator of this category, at least not yet.

The Australian magazine, Crema, is one of the few print coffee magazines to make its way into the Apple Newsstand, thanks to its MagazineCloner app. The app has just been updated to fix some bugs and improve download speeds.

BeanLeaf-iPad-lgDigital magazines can be both inside and outside the Newsstand, of course. Two that reside outside it have been around a while. Global Coffee Review Magazine is another Australian magazine that is producing a replica edition for tablets.

One of the more interesting digital magazines for the category was Bean & Leaf Magazine, created by the UNC School of Journalism & Mass Communication. The app was created by journalism students using the Adobe Single Edition solution. As a result, the app has not been updated since its release early last year. The staff did any excellent job with the stand-alone app that weighs in at 146 MB (the Newsstand apps, of course, are very small in comparison as they require the reader to download the issues later).

The category also has its share of DIY apps that were created using the web-based app building solutions. These generally create news reader type apps that look more natural on a smartphone than a tablet. There are also plenty of other drink magazines that can be found when searching “coffee” such as Imbibe Magazine.

But despite the fact that cafés are where you will see the most tablets used to read magazines, one won’t find any of the major B2B titles in the App Store. These have been lean times for B2B titles, and any that once were auditing their circulation have long ago dropped their BPAs. Building a tablet app does not appear to be a high priority right now.

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