Friday, November 09, 2012

Why I still go to Starbucks


"... What he or she wants is a clean, quiet, comfortable, air-conditioned space, to work, meet friends or linger for hours, no questions asked. Such hangouts are scarce in India, and with the urban chaos outside, boy, do we need them. India’s women, desperately short of safe public spaces, want to sit by themselves without being leered at, as they might be in dhabas. India has an estimated 200 million people between 18 and 25. The young, who usually live with extended families in cramped houses, want to chat, date and escape their prying parents. The growing number of entrepreneurs who work from home are looking for venues to network and meet clients. And everyone – absolutely everyone – will be looking for that scarcest of commodities in India: a clean toilet. It’s not about the coffee. It’s about the coffee house."

"Why India's yuppies want Starbucks (it's not about the coffee)" by Kavitha Rao from The Guardian

I read this article recently and it has stuck with me. I love Starbucks ... but my love, like the young Indians mentioned above, is not about the coffee ... or at least not just about the coffee. Its about the coffee house and, in particular, my coffee house.

First off, let me say ... my favourite bean is an aged Sumatran. "Old Brown Java" as some providers refer to it. This is a bean that Starbucks uses regularly ... and it's something that makes me happy.

But it's not used in Pike Place ... their 'signature blend' and the only one they offer nowadays.

I like Pike ... but I don't love it. What I did love was the when they used to brew a variety of blends AND Pike. I used to love seeing what they had on offer and getting spoiled with cafetieres with the latest blend to try.

I don't get this any more ... but I still go to Starbucks. Why?

One reason is because of the coffee house itself ... it's the most convenient place for me to hang out at lunch time or after work. The upper floor at the 'Bucks in Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow; has a really relaxed atmosphere ... even when suits hog seats ... and students think they own the place. I've had some great conversations in there ... and got a lot of stuff done. It's my third place ... or, at least, one of them.

I am a big fan of Beanscene and would go there *everyday* if I could ... I particularly like the one across from the Kelvingrove Museum. It is something special. Ironically, I drink 'London Fogs' when I go there rather than coffee ... but it is still a favoured coffee house for similar reasons.

Another reason is the staff there are fantastic. Anne, Lesley and Hannah are just so warm and welcoming ... they really light up a bad day with their infectious enthusiasm for what they do.

Lastly ... Starbucks have embraced mobile payments and 'passbook' on the iPhone. Making payment convenient and zero hassle. I like this a lot ... mainly because I hate carrying money on me.

So I guess when I talk about my love of coffee ... I need probably expand that to ... I love coffee houses too and have my particular favourites.

Hopefully this is food for thought for all the coffee connoisseurs out there ... you may have the best coffee blends in world (hopefully one that includes age Sumatran beans) but if your coffee house isn't warm, relaxed and friendly ... and your staff are similarly engaging ... then you'll miss out.

People like me want great coffee ... but they need a place to relax and hang out ... and the difference between need and want is why I still go to Starbucks.

Tx
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