Sunday, June 28, 2009

Starbucks vs Coffee Bean

Also known as why I never go to Coffee Bean but find Starbucks rather pleasant.

Let's briefly touch on branding for these two places.

They're both coffee joints

Starbucks set the standard for the "hang-out" cafe but Coffee Bean has followed suit

They're priced evenly

They're both more upscale than Old Town Kopitiam.

So why does Starbucks do so much better in Malaysia? Some might say the Berjaya Group holding company has the money to keep them springing up, but I think there's a little more to it than that.

A lot of companies bring more than just the food and ambience to a place, they also bring a culture. Here are two of my own experiences:


I walked into a Starbucks and was greeted by warm hellos and smiling faces. After ordering my drink I went to sit down and waited. After awhile I got that uncomfortable feeling that surfaces when you realise that you've been sitting down at an empty table for too long. So I glare at the counter, the baristas realise they forgot/were too slow and rushed out to get my my drink, gave me a coupon for a free one and apologised frantically. I was annoyed, then felt guilty for coercing them into giving me a free drink. I eventually gave the coupon away or used it to dispose of gum.

Coffee Bean (just today!)

Went it and ordered my drink, felt mechanical and dull. Waited at the counter for my drink. 7-8 people who ordered after me get theirs and I'm still waiting. After 20 minutes of standing at the counter, made to look like a bloke that's just been ditched on a date, I ask the guy where my drink is. He looks like I've called his mother a guinea pig and starts asking questions 

"What's your drink?"

"Chocolate banana?"

"Sure it's not chocolate?"

"You ordered chocolate right?"

"Your name is Din"

"Do you want this instead? I think I forgot to add the banana"

I tell him I wouldn't lie about my fucking name and to get me the drink I bloody paid for, instead of trying to pawn off whatever he had at hand. Especially if it was another customer's. He turns back and does whatever it is he does. At this point Din, the owner of the drink, shows up and says his name and claims the beverage.

It's so awkward when you're proven to be a liar, and a bad one at that. For some reason he goes on to say he made the wrong drink, even though I see nothing remotely close to my order in sight (disadvantage of an open bar). As he wanders off, more drinks are being distributed to other customers and I wait even longer. After 10 minutes-ish I literally have to yell


before he realises that an irate customer made to wait almost 30 minutes for a single drink shouldn't have to endure anymore balls attitude. Anyways I go and sit down and pout before I finally get my drink a grand total of 45 minutes-ish after ordering it.

Moral of the story?

Your brand is more about looks, taste and a name. Take Coffee Bean.

Here's some advice:

 Spend some money and train your fucking staff the way you want them to behave. And get your managers to fucking MANAGE SHIT instead of being useless lying cunts. I can honestly say I will share my stories with anyone who even suggest going there, till they either

-Get the fucking picture

-Go bankrupt

Though I wouldn't know if they've changed as I don't plan on setting eyes on said venue ever again.

*I say this for benefit of the doubt, because I can hardly believe the already shit service can be even more abysmal than it already was. Who finds time to talk to other customers about random crap when you're trying to catch up on other orders.


Anonymous said...


I love this post.
Here's more reason why Starbucks is better than other chains apart from the fact that their customer service is better:
- Their seats are more comfortable.
- They have been providing free Internet access whiles others are still trying to save RM418 from subscribing to Streamyx.

But if you are a true coffee lover, they have a saying... "Good friends don't let their friends drink Starbucks".

Check out all things coffee in Malaysia:

The Ruud said...

Know what ya mean. That's why Starbucks has a hard time surviving in places like Melbourne or Vienna where café culture is dominant. Good cuppa for 2 dollars isn't hard to come by, likewise for ambience.

Little Taeyang Zaii~ said...

Starbucks is the best for Malaysian youngsters, just because they're not knowledgeable coffee drinkers... I will have to say, Starbucks can't make good cafe latte (since I'm a cafe latte freak), some little ristorante Italiano in Malaysia can make better coffee than Starbucks... But as long as those teenagers love them, they won't end up easily :D Anyway, one more thing I have to talk about is, I never went into Starbucks coffee anymore after I came back from my Italia trip, you know what I mean :)