Cursing Starbucks – better coffee around corner

My last day in Nassau. I had a few hours to spare before leaving for the airport, so walked downtown after breakfast for a coffee. Last night when I had been eating my dinner on the verandah of the Hard Rock Café, I had noticed a small Italian coffee shop across the road. The only coffee shop that I had previously seen in the week that I had been in Nassau was Starbucks, and I had persevered with drinking their so-called coffee all week because I didn’t think there was anything better around.

How wrong I was. I had a latte at the Italian coffee shop and it was superb. I cursed Starbucks and kicked myself repeatedly that I had not seen this place before. And what made the annoyance even worse was that it was literally only just around the corner from Starbucks. If only I had walked a few extra metres on my first day in Nassau, and I would not have had to suffer a week of Starbucks.

Starbucks certainly does a good marketing job (see picture below of one of its banners on the Nassau wharf) but the lattes it sells have no flavour at all. Order one with skim milk, and it’s like drinking brown-coloured water. Order one with full cream milk, and it’s like drinking brown-coloured milk. When I am forced to drink Starbucks because there is nothing else available (sometimes the only option in places like China), I have to order an extra shot of espresso for the beverage to even take on the slightest hint of a coffee flavour. And what makes it even more galling is that Starbucks is already higher in price than other outlets – and then charging another US$1.50 or so for an extra shot of espresso makes it outrageously expensive for what is a very substandard coffee.

I really don’t understand how Starbucks survives in some countries (the UK, UAE, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Philippines for example) when there are coffee chains with far superior products (Pret a Manger, Costa Coffee, Pacific Coffee, San Francisco Coffee and Gloria Jeans to name a few examples). Maybe it’s just the power of the Starbucks marketing. And maybe that’s why Starbucks drinks are so expensive – it’s their customers that have to pay for those marketing expenses.

The Great Firewall of China

A Hard Rock Café that doesn't rock