Coffee Meets Bagel is a free female-friendly app (though paid options exist), which has declared war against Tinder on behalf of women daters. Indeed, it is said that Tinder’s male users are estimated as 58% of the site, while Coffee Meets Bagels is said to attract a majority of female users. The way Coffee Meets Bagel works, described more in our “How Does It Work” section, is that the app sends men’ Bagels’ to review.
Bagels are female users that men can either ‘like’ or ‘pass’ on. The women then get to choose which of the users who liked them, that they want to talk to, giving the female the final say. From the moment you access the website or app, it appears designed for estrogen fueled users and relationship-oriented quests, everywhere from the aesthetics to content, saying:
“Women will choose who gets to talk to them among quality men who already liked them.
That’s right. No more guessing games! #LadiesChoice.
Does this mean Coffee Meets Bagel’s bet will pay off or that you should use the app?
Let’s explore below.
History: Coffee Meets Bagel Review
Started in 2012 by sisters Soo, Dawoon, and Arum Kang, Coffee Meets Bagel’s estimated worth is around $600 million (2017). With initial headquarters in San Francisco, Coffee Meets Bagel recently opened up a second office in Seattle, Washington, after finding new staff talent congregated in that area.
One early investor in the Coffee Meets Bagel trend was Match Group, which has its hands in Match.com, Tinder, and many more dating sites. As founder Arum Kang explained to Geek Wire in 2017, she believes dating platforms generally have a 65 to 35 percent male to female ratio and credits her inspiration and approach to research during her MBA work at Harvard.
Coffee Meets Bagel seeks to retain female users, on the premise that this will help both genders. Also, in 2017, the Kang sisters appeared together on the popular television show, Shark Tank.
There, they were offered 30 million dollars from Shark Tank cast member Mark Cuban (to date the highest offer in the show’s history), for their entire company. Viewers were shocked when the sisters declined the offer.
They later received backlash from those who felt they were “money hungry” (an accusation the Kang’s felt was fueled by sexism since they consider their actions visionary to the site’s real future profits). The big question many viewers had was whether the Kang sisters appeared on the show solely as a promotional activity.
Although the sisters did offer Cuban a 5% share of the company in exchange for a $500,000 investment since the episode appeared, Coffee Meets Bagel attracted additional venture capitalist funding (in part from their exposure on the show). You can read all the juicy details at the Gazette Review.
One concern on Shark Tank, which still lingers, is why the Kang’s wouldn’t disclose exactly how many users actively use the site, other than alluding to several hundred thousand. One can only guess this is because membership numbers aren’t high.
Pros & Cons
- FEMALE FRIENDLY: Signing up for dating apps can be an intimidating experience. Coffee Meets Bagel knows this. While dating online or with an app is an adjustment for all genders, women particularly worry about safety, and get tired of spam and endless swiping. Therefore, it is inspiring that Coffee Meets Bagel is trying to change the landscape of app-based dating and make it something that resonates with women.
- This change developed as women sometimes get frustrated after receiving unwanted comments from users they don’t like on open messaging sites. Not to mention, on other apps, a percentage of male users are in search of one time “hookup” dates, which can leave women weeding through unsavory pictures and messages (including but not limited to the occasional dick pic, as its fondly called). The changes on CMB are also suitable for men who have felt passed over on other apps and want a quality female looking for something lasting.
- One can’t fault the three sisters who founded Coffee Meets Bagel for wanting to improve app-based dating for women, but whether or not their changes lead to successful long term matches is still up for debate.
- Free is good. There are paid options to enhance your experience (described below under our “Paid Features & Pricing Breakdown” section), but Coffee Meets Bagel works well as a free site. It also gives free users a way to earn paid perks without purchasing anything.
- Coffee Meets Bagel lets you avoid extended signup. Since you connect through Facebook, the algorithm is based on your mutual friends and interests. This means you won’t have a lengthy personality questionnaire to complete for the site to work.
- You receive select match options. This isn’t for everyone, but if you’re tired from swiping through hundreds of matches elsewhere, you might prefer this limited, fine-tuned approach. Some women feel this gives them less “anxiety”, as they’ve shown a match who likes them and feels the match wants to get to know them better. Since the app is for both gay and straight matches, gay, and lesbian users will get multiple matches daily, instead of one, explained in their blog.
- Discover: For those women who don’t want to wait for likes from other matches, they can make the first move in the ‘discover’ section, and browse a selection of users. They can use “Beans”. a.k.a. the paid currency on the site to TAKE a heart (a.k.a. heart icon), which lets the user know they like them instead. This is what is available for all – men, women, as well as gay and lesbian matches.
- Limitations: A site geared for women sounds good, but what matters is the quality of connections. Although Coffee Meets Bagel is more popular than it used to be, in part thanks to its Shark Tank infamy (which might mean its growth will expand even more in the future), you will have fewer match options than you would on more popular apps. You may not notice this if you mainly stick with the users you’ve connected with as “Bagel” matches.
- If you prefer a dating site doing the grunt work and only want to choose from pre-qualified matches, you’ll be fine. However, if you prefer yourself as a matchmaker and are good at messaging or swiping right, the Coffee Meets Bagel process will seem slow and less enjoyable.
- Bagels? Perhaps a personal pet peeve, but does anyone want to be called a “bagel” while being looked over by matches? The site tries to make jokes about this, such as, “Find your everything bagel”. What was probably supposed to be a quirky joke on the name comes across silly.
- Irony: There is some irony to the methodology and message that Coffee Meets Bagel promotes.
- “Over the last 4 years, we came to realize that men and women have very different styles of dating and that the best dating experience for everyone is offered through a differentiated service for men and women. Hence the new way of servicing #LadiesChoice was born.”
- “Singles, especially single women, are becoming exhausted with the direction mobile dating is headed today. Dating has become an endless swipe of photos – a place for ghosting and being ghosted. To us, that isn’t really dating, that’s a huge waste of time. With #LadiesChoice, we are giving women more control of their dating experience. We are enabling them to re-focus their time and energy on men who are serious about taking the next step. We are hoping to inspire all singles around the world to feel good about dating again.”
- The reality is that men pick from more matches than women. Women mainly only see the “Bagels” who liked them. This is supposed to limit the pressure of women needing to make the first move but instead makes gender roles seem very established and traditional.
- Coffee Meets Bagel explains this business model as men liking “selection” and women being “selective”, stating that most women they’ve polled prefer only four quality matches a day, as they’re sick of swiping.
- Though CMB does have a “Discover” option, when compared to other apps such as Bumble, Bumble feels more modern and female empowered. On Bumble, both men and women are shown all potential matches. After matching on Bumble, women have to message first, or the match expires, as opposed to women only picking from men who pre-selected them.
- Mathematics: If there are more women on Coffee Meets Bagel then men, it gives MEN better the odds of meeting a match since they are in limited supply – meaning men would get more attention, per female, while the women would get less. This makes it seem odd that the site is again promoted as an excellent way for women to date.
- Slow Matching: The “Bagel” match approach is a more gradual process where matching isn’t instantaneous. Compare this with swiping apps or the top four dating sites, and Coffee Meets Bagel can be less bang for your buck.
- 1 month: $35.00
- 3 months: $75.00 (paid at once, but averages $25 per month)
- 6 months: $120.00 (paid at once, but averages $20 per month).
- 3000 Beans: $24.99 (save 60%)
- 2000 Beans: $23.99 (save 39%)
- 100 Beans: $1.99
- 500 Beans: Invite Friends to the App
- 200 Beans: Follow Coffee Meets Bagel on Social Media
Ease of Use
The app is relatively easy, but it can take some time to understand how it works compared to standard apps – since men see a selection of Bagel matches and women mainly see matches who pre-liked them. Once you know that or take advantage of the “Discover”, it should go smoothly. The terminology and paid features, like “Beans” will make sense the more you use CMB.
If you are having trouble with an aspect of the site, go to their contact page to see if you can find an answer to your question. If not, scroll down toward the bottom of the page for email contact or email about technical issues or suggestions at email@example.com.
How does This Work?
How Does It Work? SIGN UP & MORE
Step 1: DOWNLOAD APP
Take time to browse the online homepage’s explanation of what the app is like. You can even sign up for CMB events, such as adult camp events! Coffee Meets Bagel’s online site is only for information; however, as the actual dating happens through the app. While on Coffee Meets Bagel, read stories from successful couples who met on the app or even see ‘Bagels’ (daters) displayed on the site’s Instagram page.
Then, go to the Apple or Google store to download the Coffee Meets Bagel app.
Step 2: SIGN UP
Once downloaded, the app will appear as “CMB” in your smartphone’s selections. You will pair the app with your Facebook account, which will share your details – age, email, connections, etc. From there, you will agree to allow your location to share, for location-based matching. Users will not be given your name until you connect.
Select the gender you’re looking for (same or opposite gender), ethnicity for you, and your match (selecting “no preference” will match you to your same ethnicity, so choose any specifics you prefer), schooling, etc. Coffee Meets Bagel will show you a graphic explaining that logging in daily for the first seven days will give you the ability to unlock special features, including “Bean”, described in our “Paid Features & Pricing Breakdown” section.
Step 3: OPTIONS & ICONS
To begin exploring the site, look at the icon options at the bottom of the app. The choices will be:
“Suggestions”: (icon of a heart inside a blue circle) where you can look at suggested users (upon signing up, I was only shown one, which is the norm for women given suggestions).
“Discover”: (icon a card stack with heart in the center): You can look through users who have not matched you yet (if you’re a woman) or if you are anyone else (men and gay and lesbian users have these options).
“Chats”: (conversation bubble icon): Once you and your Bagels like one another, messages will be found here.
“Me”: (icon of a person): This is where you can add or edit your photos, profile, preferences, and description. Your profile description will show as incomplete until you add some personally written information. The app gives prompts of suggested ways to answer.
Under the same icon you will see links to “Preferences” (you can edit whom you’re looking for by gender, height, age distance, religion, ethnicity), “Tips” (on how to best use the site), “Photo Lab” (where you can earn “beans” by evaluating which photo of a user is best, to help them out), “Invite and earn 500 beans” (by sharing the app), “Help & Support” (detailed below), or “Settings” (where you can turn on/off the daily noon alert, chats, customer service, or view privacy and terms of service).
Tip: When selecting profile options, do so carefully. Even after correcting incorrect selections (such as the gender your in search of), the app will show the prior selection – ex: women instead of men.
- PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP: This will provide you with an activity report to learn about your Bagels (i.e., matches), chat activity, whether your matches read your messages, get 15% more Beans in your bean store purchases, 8 free “takes” (i.e., lettings users in the Discovery section know you like them) and send unlimited flowers, which lets you be shown faster to other popular users.
- BEANS: The term sounds confusing, but think of the site’s name. Beans mean coffee beans, and buying them is the same as buying coins on other websites or apps. Free beans are available if you help rate photos in “Photo Lab” (88 Beans) “Invite” your friends or family to the site (500 Beans), or “Follow” Coffee Meets Bagel on Instagram (200 Beans).
Fewer People On The Site: Men receive 21 quality matches to choose from, every day at noon. One can’t help but wonder if the randomly selected number is due to less user traffic on Coffee Meets Bagel, rather than anything mathematically founded or scientifically proven.
The only way to build up a site’s traffic is by methodically increasing the number of members. However, if you feel like you don’t get enough attention on the site, it might be your location and not you!
You’ll either love Coffee Meets Bagel or be lukewarm about it. If you live in a busy metropolitan city or area, you’ll have more matches and luck. NYC, Boston, SF, Chicago, LA, DC are some of the more promoted areas on the CMB website.
The app even admits (on its website) that it has limited users in some areas. The app is geared toward busy professionals who want to find meaningful connections. If that is you, try it. Since signup is swift and you will be logged in and browsing the site within minutes.