What it means to make order ahead mobile apps for cafes

Since I was about 7, I have always had some type of draw or pull toward computers. From taking apart Hewlett Packard machines and putting them back together – always shocked that they still worked….to seeing that first app compile and actually open on mobile device….There is just something about the idea that a computer can learn a task and do it over and over and over, without ever breaking from what they are programmed to do. There is something amazing about the countless humans that work on parts of systems that all come together to form large systems…connected and powered through the wonders of high speed internet.

I hoped that some day I could find something that I could work on where I could apply the things that I learned from observing and interacting with computers and people that work with computers. Perhaps we could put together a team – a tribe so to speak, that could learn and persist through whatever it would take – in faith – to create a product that at least a small part of the world would benefit from and would love. It is love that powers it all. The world needs more love.

Espressly ended up being where the chips fell, so to speak. For the team, what has become known as “digital food/drink ordering” became our vocation in this world. In most career paths, there is a commonly accepted set of courses/education that one would persist through…advancing all the while. There might be some entry level job that helps advance the individual in that career path further…and eventually, perhaps they go out on their own or maybe they advance up the ranks in a company.

As part of our journey, we started with a digital ordering marketplace style app and platform in 2017. This was before a lot of what we know and see in today’s digital ordering world. A lot has happened. Regardless of what others did, we knew that if we reported to work every day and put our head down, that there was only one possible outcome – that we would learn and advance through hard work and observation, while striking out trying various things and reaching a favorable outcome on other things.

For us, it was not about becoming a “success” in the eyes of the outside world. It was about time in the saddle….maybe it would work, maybe it would not. We could accept the outcome – either way. Being in the mix of it all, we were able to observe the Starbucks app in its’ earlier days. They had an app for their business – it was not a marketplace…and it was all about pickup. It was their app. 

Back then, everything seemed to be about delivery. We thought it was about delivery too. Something happens when you work in the food delivery space while at the same time not working with pickup ordering….you eventually realize that no matter how much you do to make for a great delivery experience….you are completely bypassing the in store experience that so many of us go through when going to get a coffee from our favorite corporate or local cafe. Pickup matters and it is a robust experience with many different ways to encounter it (Counter pickup, Drive Thru, Curbside, Dining In, and various permutations of these).

People like to save time and money when doing their routine tasks. Coffee is something that many of us enjoy. Quality coffee can be a nice opportunity to spend a few minutes with loved ones. A hot cup of coffee on a cold day while working might help us to contemplate whatever we need to figure out for work, life, or for even bigger things. Coffee is important. We felt it truly was and is.

We stopped work on the food delivery marketplace product. The tribe was assembled. We knew we wanted to work together. Tribes bring strength that is not attainable as individuals. 

Espressly became the new thing that we worked on at our company. We made apps for cafes. It had a nice fresh feel to it. We love coffee. We love pickup ordering of coffee.

Through working with cafes, we came to learn that Square had a great product for these businesses. We also learned that Square is a fintech company. Their developer tools were true bliss when we looked them over. The path forward became clear. We knew that since Square was as advanced as it was and that their developer APIs covered every aspect of a well integrated solution, that it would take time to really connect our systems with Square. How much time would it take? It did not matter because we knew that through hard work and showing up to work day in and day out…that we would make progress each day. Eventually it would be done. The further we went into it…the more difficult it would be to get distracted. We as a team knew that this would be a worthwhile pursuit where we could apply our learnings to help cafes and other similar types of businesses.

We ended up declaring the integration complete after approximately 16 months. Through the changes we all have seen as a result of COVID-19 and while managing non Square integrated apps, we continued to learn and advance the Square integration work while orders flowed in for non connected Square shops.

We started boarding Square sellers and building their apps. It took a few months to work out any wrinkles with all the things that can be seen in the course of ordering for many cafes. Once we ironed those wrinkles out…we would then have the next batch of new things….and on we went, working through them. We knew we would reach the “end” because we had amazing cafes to work with that understood and were supportive. 

Through it all, we have become another option for small business owners to consider. We are not perfect but we are a tribe that works each and every day – like you. Like so many of us. We are committed to this for the long haul, together. With you. 

We invite any cafe, bakery, donut shop, or specialty shake shop to check out what their mobile app could look like. Whether integrated to Square in your stores or not integrated with Square, we are here for you. 


Peace and love to you and your tribe.


– Joe Capone

Worker, Tribe Member, Coffee Drinker