Starbucks vs. Coffee Bean vs. everyone else
Yesterday was a kind of errand day. Had to run by the ATM, drop off mail, get Anakin chew toys (so he won’t eat any more remotes… the Tivo remote is the latest victim), etc. On my route, I stopped by the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. There were six people in front of me and I had to wait 20 minutes to get my coffee. (For Kyle… I know this because when I finally got my coffee, I couldn’t believe how long it had taken and I looked at the time stamp on the receipt)(For everyone else… sorry about that. I had to put that in to forestall the inevitable “It was probably more like five but you’re so impatient it only seemed like twenty minutes.”) Anyway, I got back in my car, headed over to Petco, took a sip of my non fat, decaf, iced mocha and realized there wasn’t a shaving of chocolate in it. And it had three pieces of ice in it. So I went back, (nicely) asked them to make me a correct drink (Yes, I showed them my receipt with the order on it. You knew I would, didn’t you?) and even got a free drink coupon.
All this to say, I hate Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
I have to remember this whenever I am out and I’m tempted to poke my head in there rather than walk the half block to the nearest Starbucks. I’ll say this for them. Their flavored coffees are pretty good. They make the best vanilla lattee of any of the places I go. Their chais suck… they use a powder and we don’t do powder. But their customer service is just awful. Seriously, 20 minutes for 6 people to get coffee (with 2 people behind the bar) equates to each cup taking six minutes each.
Starbucks, on the other hand, is so fast they’re like the coffee version of Kyle on the flag football field. (I had to throw in a compliment after I gave that accurate version of Kyle’s response up there). The chai is the standard by which other chais are judged and their coffee drinks aren’t bad. I did have a barrista friend who used to call the place Charbucks, accusing them of over roasting their beans. This is a bit more refined tasting than I am capable of. When it comes to coffee beans, anyway. I like that you can also get a variety of good lunch sandwiches under 350 calories and under $5. Not to mention interesting music. And I like the mix of people working, people chatting with friends, job interviews and church staff ditching the office that hang out in a typical Starbucks.
There’s also Peets which I don’t really like much. I go to Peets because Eric and Nathalie like that place because it’s also next door to Noah’s Bagels. They make their chai drinks using brewed chai tea. Really good for straight teas, but it’s a little weak for lattes. I also end up at It’s a Grind because it’s across the street from work. (Ever notice how many coffee shops are named with puns?) They’re OK coffeewise but don’t expect much ambiance. 90% of the people there are on Macs and iPods silently and very much individually taking advantage of the free wifi. Not much of a community feeling there.
I used visit this place called Cappuccino Charlie’s when I lived down in South Pasadena. First, the name made me laugh because I kept wondering how long the owner had the nickname. I kept picturing a third grader nicknamed Cappuccino Charlie at the water color easel. The only other reasons I went there were that it was close and on the way to the freeway onramp and the morning cashier had the most amazing auburn hair and I liked to look at it while she made my coffee. Eventually the place closed when the Wells Fargo/Starbucks moved in up the street. (Eric and I used to call this place WellBucks. Actually, I called it that and he made a run at StarFargo but that never caught on)
Hands down, the winner of this Versus is Starbucks.