Starbucks Antwerpen… finally?!

Naar aanleiding van de hopelijk spoedige opening van een Starbucks in Antwerpen Centraal (en hopelijk volgen er dan nog een paar)…. toch nog even oud blogje opgevist.
And don’t get me wrong, i like starbucks, not for the quality of it’s coffee, but for the fact of having a customised brew of a certain degree in your hands at all times 😉

On Starbucks, Barristas and customer service…

It was the highlight of my recent trip to Toronto… the constant amazement on how people treat their daily portion of coffee.

I will expand later on the virtues and merits of the brew in itself, is it coffee? is it hot? is it black, strong or plain bitter tasting water, but first on coffee drinking in general.

Wherever you go in Europe, you’ll see girls walking around with liter bottles of evian, afraid they’ll dehydrate, walking from home to the office. In Canada ( and probably the States too), literally everybody walks around with coffee mugs or cups in their hand. In winter time i see a functionality, during the summer it’s harder to grasp.

The whole process of ordering a coffee is also something remarkable. Roughly it goes like this : format(small,medium or big), type (latte,cappuccino,…) and then the customizing begins, 1, 2, 3 extra shots… whole milk, fat free milk, soy, sugar, honey, brown sugar, added flavour…

The amazing thing is that the guy behind the counter never gets angry, he just does what the client asks. To me, having a profound and deep affection for all food related things, this is incredible. Where’s the pride, where’s the perceived know how, the trusted relationship with a specialist? To most Canadians, this is called customer service. They’re right of course, but i am too…

What happens here is that coffee, a noble product in itself, requiring certain skills in the selection of the beans, the roasting, the preparation and even the tasting is degraded to a mere commodity, adapted to the whims of a customer who appears to take all this very serious, and for whom the ‘customization’ is the ultimate proof of quality. As i mentioned before, if you taste most of the coffees in Tim Horton, Starbucks, Second Cup or whatever they are all called, i find it even hard to relate to genuine coffee, its more like a black, hot, slightly sour, bitter tasting liquid, but real coffee?

Well, i like to put my trust in an experienced ‘barrista’, who gives me the coffee he judges to be the best he can possibly offer you.

If I like it, I’ll be back, if i don’t, i go to another cafeteria… It’s another way to look at it, and in my view it offers a wider range of choice, and the same guarantees as far as customer service is concerned.

Why am i writing this? At the wedding diner of my little sister in law, i was seated next to an adorable French Canadian woman, Sylvie, who complained about the lack of customer orientation of most European businesses. She was right of course, but this blog is a way of getting my point across (yes, she was very convincing!). Sometimes pampering and mindless ‘doing what the client asks’ isn’t to be considered customer service but a degradation of your believe in product and service strengths…

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