Coffee Meets Bagel Review How It Works

Online Dating

How Coffee Meets Bagel Works: The Pros & Cons For Serious Relationship Seekers

Amber Brooks

Written by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is the Editor-in-Chief at DatingAdvice.com. When she was growing up, her family teased her for being "boy crazy," but she preferred to think of herself as a budding dating expert. As an English major in college, Amber honed her communication skills to write clearly, knowledgeably, and passionately about a variety of subjects. Now with over 1,600 lifestyle articles to her name, Amber brings her tireless wit and relatable experiences to DatingAdvice.com.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles and reports have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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With more dating sites and apps launching every year, it’s easy to get lost in the sheer volume of swiping choices out there. This Coffee Meets Bagel review will tell you how the dating app works — hopefully help you decide if the app the right choice for you. 

And if it’s not, our dating experts have a few alternatives you can check out that offer similar features and benefits for serious daters. Use the links below to navigate the article and find the information you’re looking for about Coffee Meets Bagel (aka CMB).

Founding story | Review | Cost | Features | Successes | Other Alternatives

Founding Story: What is Coffee Meets Bagel?

Founded in 2012 by three sisters, Coffee Meets Bagel set itself apart from dating site and app options that primarily focused on hookups and casual dating. The three sisters brought their app idea to national attention by appearing on Shark Tank and garnering the attention of Mark Cuban.

While they ultimately turned down Cuban’s investment offer, CMB cofounders Soo Kang, Dawoon Kang, and Arum Kang leveraged the appearance into real excitement for their platform, and the app has continued to grow ever since.

The major focus for the three Coffee Meets Bagel cofounders was the fact that historically, dating sites and apps have historically had trouble retaining women. As Dawoon Kang explained in an interview with Forbes, “The industry has been coined a ’sausage-fest’ because of the 65% men/35% women gender ratio (of users). Things even get more lopsided when you consider the activity level of men and women, where men are typically 2x more active than women on a dating app.”

So the three sisters set out to launch an app that would solve the problems they saw in the industry. They did this by focusing on women daters and finding a way to bridge the gap they see in the way that women date and the way that men date. While the three sisters turned down Mark Cuban’s $30 million offer, the San Francisco-based brand has continued to grow to become strong competition for mainstream dating platforms.

Overall Rating: 3.3 out of 5 Stars

Our dating experts have explored everything that Coffee Meets Bagel has to offer, and the overall rating for the dating app is 3.3 out of 5 stars. The CMB app has some specific advantages and benefits, but overall our experts conclude that other more popular apps offer substantially the same experience without some of the drawbacks. Coffee Meets Bagel is a good app, but not the best dating app you can use.

The CoffeeMeetsBagel app pioneered woman-led matching algorithms before even Bumble came onto the scene, setting it apart in the crowded online dating space. The Kang sisters built the app with the idea that women and men date differently: Women seek out quality matches, while men tend to browse for quantity.

Instead of a virtually unlimited number of matches for men and women on the platform, CoffeeMeetsBagel users each receive a limited number of curated matches each day. Women receive six “Bagels” or matches, while men receive up to 21 potential matches. The matches drop at noon every day. Men get to peruse their suggested matches and decide which they’re interested in, and then female users choose from a curated list of six matches.

It’s important to note that Coffee Meets Bagel isn’t an app for singles interested in a hookup or a casual encounter. A good 70% of users are on the app to find a serious relationship, with another 11% looking more specifically for a spouse. If you’re not looking for something more serious, a hookup app is a much better option. 

Coffee Meets Bagel logo
The CMB dating platform has created millions of matches.

The CMB app is available for free through the Google Play Store and App Store, but one of the major drawbacks our experts note is that, despite its big promises, Coffee Meets Bagel doesn’t have a very large user base. Although the app focuses on quality matches over volume, a small number of users still creates hurdles, especially for people living in small towns and rural areas

Coffee Meets Bagel is better if you’re in a major city, especially cities that have a strong Asian community. Cities in California, especially San Francisco and Los Angeles, have strong CMB user bases. For East Coast singles, New York City is another major hotspot for the app. But the farther away from major cities you are, the lower your chances are of finding a local match on the app. If you’re in a smaller town, an app or dating site with a bigger member base is a better option.

One area in which Coffee Meets Bagel outshines much of its competition is in the creativity of its founders. The Kang sisters began hosting live, in-person events in 2018 called Coffee Meets Bagel Experiences, aimed at getting members to meet up in real life. The Covid-19 pandemic made things like adult summer camps and 5k marathons difficult to plan, but the sisters behind the popular dating app hope to bring back the events in the future.

All in all, the CMB app has some perks, including the fact that you can download the app for free and use the basic features without paying. But the small user base and a few other issues don’t make it the perfect platform for everyone — especially if you live far away from a major city. 

While the app is free and most of the necessary features come with the basic membership, Coffee Meets Bagel offers perks to members who are willing to pay. Compare what you get from both the free and premium membership models to truly dig into whether the popular dating app is right for you.

Cost Breakdown: Free vs Premium Membership

As mentioned before, the CMB app is free to use. You can download the app and set up a CMB profile and chat with your matches without paying anything. Coffee Meets Bagel differs from paid dating sites and apps that require a premium membership to make contact beyond winks or likes.

It’s worth noting that your timeframe for communication is limited: You get eight days to make contact and see where it goes after you and your potential match swipe right, and then the contact option expires. Although the time limit may be pressing for busy professionals, it does give you ample opportunity to exchange phone numbers or email addresses to keep things going off the platform.

Screenshots of CMB
A free membership on CMB includes messaging capabilities.

While you can get everything you want from Coffee Meets Bagel without paying, the premium membership comes with some distinct benefits. Each special feature in the paid option works to make it easier to find and connect with a quality match.

For example, by prioritizing your Coffee Meets Bagel profile to other members, the monthly profile boost gets you up to five times more views than you would receive organically. The Activity Report feature lets you play private detective and look into your potential match’s activity, including how recently they were last online. Special features that allow you to “rewind” previous matches and see who has already Liked your profile help you get to a match more quickly and step up your dating game. 

In addition to the premium membership option, you can expand some of your options on the platform with in-app purchases of coffee beans. Beans allow female users to unlock extra bagels and allow everyone on the app to access rewinds, and reopen or extend the deadline on chatting with a potential match, among other benefits. 

The cost for the premium subscription, at $34.99, can be a bit steep for users who only want one month of access. But if you go for the annual rate, the fee evens out to $15/month. That puts CMB at about even footing with other similar apps and dating sites, even if it does require a longer commitment. 

You can earn coffee beans for free by inviting friends to the app, following Coffee Meets Bagel on social media, signing in every day of the week, and doing other basic tasks. Users also get a bonus of free beans just for signing up. But if you run out of free beans, you can purchase bags of beans at the bean store in the app:  $2.99 for 200 beans and $24.99 for 3,000 beans.

The CoffeeMeetsBagel Profile & Other Special Features

Setting up your Coffee Meets Bagel profile differs from setting up on some other dating platforms because CMB uses your Facebook information to help jumpstart the matching process. You do have to link your Facebook account to Coffee Meets Bagel to sign up, but the app doesn’t post to your social media accounts so as to keep things private. 

In fact, Coffee Meets Bagel uses the information from your social media both to authenticate your dating profile (which helps weed out fake profiles) and to start setting you up with people on the basis of mutual friend profiles. Your matches will come from friends of friends in the network of each male user and female user on the platform.

CMB screenshot
CMB lets personalities shine in its dating profiles.

Once you’ve linked your Facebook profile, you can input other details like what you’re looking for (men or women), and provide some details that CMB can’t really get from your social media, including your answers to open-ended questions like “I am…” “I like…” and “I appreciate when my date…” The app guides you through the process, so it doesn’t take much time.

In addition to premium membership features, Coffee Meets Bagel gives free members a few features and tricks that the platform uses to focus on quality rather than quantity of potential matches. The first is the “Icebreakers” the app encourages each member to submit: These are subjects or interesting tidbits that potential matches can base their first contact on. 

You aren’t limited to just your daily set of beans or bagels, either. The Discover section on the app allows you to browse people in your area you might be interested in and like the profiles you find there to potentially find a match that way. There is a limit on how many likes you get per day, but it’s a good alternative if you aren’t finding what you’re looking for in your day’s suggested matches.

You can also “give” a match to a friend if you don’t find the person a good fit for your desires, but you think your friend will. You will earn free coffee beans for the suggestion. If you “Take” a match in the Discover section, your profile will appear in the other person’s Discover matches for the following day, and you can establish a mutual match without having to spend coffee beans.

The CMB team frequently requests feedback , for example, on why a female user may have rejected a particular bagel or whether a feature is working as planned. A lot of the special features for Coffee Meets Bagel really do set it apart, despite some user reviews that report the overall app experience to be somewhat mixed.

User Feedback Includes a Mix of Success Stories & Complaints

As mentioned before, user success on Coffee Meets Bagel is not exactly guaranteed: a lot of singles living in smaller towns or more rural areas don’t seem to have as much luck compared to users in major cities. But there are definitely success stories to be found out there, some of them proudly displayed by Coffee Meets Bagel and other mentions showing up spontaneously on other social media platforms

Based on app reviews in the Google Play Store, Coffee Meets Bagel has kind of spotty performance: there are tens of thousands of 5-star reviews that sing the app’s praises, even for users who haven’t found their happily ever after just yet.

User Esther Paulson wrote, “Low anxiety app. Straightforward and simple, I usually check it once a day. I used the free version. I appreciate that it isn’t set up for eternal swiping, which can turn into a black hole of woe lol. The layout is good and overall it is pretty intuitive. It is not super detailed and lets users add what is important to them which can be a con. I have enjoyed my experience over all though.”

“It was like we had known each other forever. We dated for 9 months, got engaged, and 10 months later we’re married! […] And are now expecting our first child!” –Tony & Megan, CMB couple

Danielle L wrote of her CMB experience, “Definitely my favorite dating app I’ve ever used (and I’ve tried many) and has plenty of free functionality. I have found the most people that I’m actually interested in meeting on this app, who are like me and looking for something longer term, and who I can have actual conversations with. The only complaint I have is the messaging doesn’t always send notifications until you open the app.”

As you can see in the positive reviews, even people who enjoy the app say it has some flaws. The negative reviews highlight this as well, with reviewers pointing out issues around the bugginess of the app, a lack of notifications, and technical issues that make the app slow, unresponsive, and unreliable.

One Google user wrote, “The app is constantly breaking. Messages don’t go through or they disappear and then reappear. (I have no idea if I’m being ghosted or if the app is just broken.) New bagels don’t show up at noon, even though you receive a push notification saying otherwise. The discover page doesn’t update each day. The photo lab doesn’t work. The dating service itself is fine, but it’s hard to use when nothing on the app works.” 

If you’re willing to be patient with the app, users with an overall positive experience say that they’ve definitely met higher-quality matches, whether that’s for friends or long-term relationships. But it seems like a lot of users get frustrated with the technical issues and a low number of potential matches, so be wary of that possibility.

Bonus: 4 Similar Dating Sites for Single Professionals

These four dating sites provide a lot of the same environment as Coffee Meets Bagel, with the emphasis on finding a real person to have a real relationship with. These sites also tend to offer at least limited free messaging options, and have the benefit of large member bases, giving you more options when seeking a compatible partner.

1. Match

★★★★★
Match.com 4.8/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.

4.8/5.0

Relationships: Friends, Dates, and Relationships

Match System: Browse by zip, age, appearance, more

Our Experts Say: “Match has facilitated the most dates and relationships of any dating site, and its large audience and high success rate make it our top review…” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

Like Coffee Meets Bagel, Match provides a basic membership level that’s completely free, with no expiration date. The setup process is almost as simple and doesn’t require you to attach your social media to your dating profile. It does require you to fill out more details about yourself individually, which may take a little more time compared to CMB. 

Once you’ve signed up, you have some limited free messaging options when you make a mutual match with another member. You’ll also be able to send messages to Top Picks. You’ll need a premium membership to have access to unlimited messaging and other benefits, but most Match users discover that they can find dates without paying for the premium access.

★★★★★
EliteSingles.com 4.7/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.

4.7/5.0

Relationships: Serious Relationships

Match System: Search, Receive Partner Suggestions

Our Experts Say: “EliteSingles is a leading dating site just for busy, single professionals. More than 80% of members have earned a college degree, and most are looking for a serious commitment…” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

Elite Singles boasts an average member profile very similar to that of Coffee Meets Bagel, with over 80% of Elite Singles members boasting a Bachelor’s degree or above. The dating site also sends you daily, verified matches based on your preferences and the platform’s matching algorithm. Members can also encounter additional match options through Wildcard matches, “Have You Met,” and the search function.

Contact options are fairly limited with the free membership, but the site features strong privacy and security protocols and offers users a lot of benefits to go with premium membership. Here is a price breakdown and assessment of the premium features.

3. Zoosk

★★★★★
Zoosk 4.5/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.

4.5/5.0

Relationships: Fun Dates, Serious Relationships

Match System: Search and get match recommendations

Our Experts Say: “Zoosk is integrated with social media sites, like Facebook and Google+, so it’s very popular with singles on the go…” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

Like CMB, Zoosk links up with your Facebook account to make profile setup and account verification simple. Also like CMB, Zoosk offers a lot of free communication features, as well as several options for expanding your abilities on the site, either through on-site currency or premium membership. You can use Zoosk coins to send virtual gifts or gain access to premium features without the commitment.

Zoosk has a larger user base than Coffee Meets Bagel, and its monthly rate for premium membership access is lower, starting at $29.95 for one month. Our Zoosk review has more details about the online dating site and app.

★★★★
ChristianMingle 4.4/5.0

Our expert ratings are based on factors such as popularity, usability, value, and success rate of each site.

4.4/5.0

Relationships: Dates and Serious Relationships

Match System: Search by gender, age, education, more

Our Experts Say: “ChristianMingle is among the largest dating sites in the industry that only caters to single Christian men and women, and the site has some of the best search filters and safety features…” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

If you’re committed to dating within your faith, Christian Mingle provides the platform to meet with single people of the Christian faith from around the world as well as locally. According to a survey of American Christians, 29% of all marriages that started with an online dating platform began on Christian Mingle, so the success rate is very high indeed! 

Communication options for free members are limited, but the premium membership rates are on par with those of Coffee Meets Bagel. The user base is larger and more targeted for Christian singles – and people who are interested in dating a Christian single – particularly those with serious dating intentions.

Coffee Meets Bagel is a Good App, But Not the Best

Although Coffee Meets Bagel talks a big game with its emphasis on quality dating versus high volume matching, there are some definite yellow and red flags that make the experience less than ideal for many singles. If you’re looking for a hookup app, CoffeeMeetsBagel is definitely not it. And if you live in a small town, you’re less likely to find a lot of high-quality matches.

Despite the platform having technical issues and some quirks, the online dating app provides a good experience for a lot of people and remains relatively popular in major cities, especially in California where the app’s cofounders live. But our dating experts agree: The CMB app is definitely not the very best dating app for singles, and with so many options out there, you may want to try other platforms with a larger user base.

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