For most people, if you think of coffee, Starbucks comes to mind. Perhaps it is not your first thought, but it will be a thought that will cross your mind, I am sure. Starbucks is the giant when it comes to coffee shops worldwide.
I came from Washington State in the USA, and since Starbucks originated in Seattle, Washington, well, there were plenty of Starbucks in the area where I lived. While I did not live in Seattle, few would argue that Seattle is a city that has probably one of the biggest coffee cultures in the United States. People in Seattle, and the surrounding area, drink coffee at all times of day, and many drink multiple cups of coffee throughout the day.
When we moved to the Philippines in 2000, the culture of coffee here was much different than back in Washington. Even up to today, the majority of Filipinos drink instant coffee when they drink coffee at all. Nescafe and other brands of instant coffee are the market leaders here. Back in 2000 when we moved here, it was actually hard to find a cup of brewed coffee at any restaurant or even to find a shop that specialized in coffee. Over the years, things have gotten better, in terms of coffee and many other parts of life as well.
When we moved to Davao in 2002, we found that there were a number of shops where you could get a good cup of brewed coffee. Probably the market leader in Davao for coffee was Blugre Coffee Shop. When we first moved here they had two locations, but over the years they have expanded, and have locations in many parts of town now. In the years since we moved to Davao, the city has become the Coffee capitol of the Philippines in many senses, with literally hundreds of coffee shops around town. Davao City came to have a similar coffee culture to what is present in Seattle, to be honest.
For most of these years, the coffee shops in Davao were almost exclusively home grown Davao entities. A little over a year ago, though, Starbucks opened in Davao. Starbucks has been in Manila for years, but now they have started spreading to the rest of the country. The original Starbucks in Davao opened in May 2011, at Abreeza Mall. I went there a few times. To be honest, it is a tiny shop, and is always packed full of customers. It can be hard to get a table, or even just a chair in Starbucks Abreeza. Additionally, Abreeza is quite a distance from where I live, so because of these factors, I never went to Starbucks very often. About 6 months ago, or so, Starbucks opened a second location, at SM City Davao, which is quite near to where I live.
The first time that I visited Starbucks SM, I was amazed at how large it is! I would guess that it is at least 5 or 6 times the size of Starbucks Abreeza. Comfortable with nice furniture and such too. The ambiance is great.
Let me say, I am not a huge fan of Starbucks coffee. Certainly, I don’t feel it is any better than the coffee sold at other locally grown Davao coffee shops. But, Starbucks does have drinks other than coffee, and some of them are quite good. For one thing, I enjoy the selection of teas at Starbucks.
One of the downsides at Starbucks (both Davao locations) is that, in my opinion, the service is quite poor. Not only do I think that, but I have talked to many other people who tell me the same thing. I guess they don’t train their employees well enough. I often feel that the employees are too busy just repeating a script that they have been trained to say, instead of actually listening to what the customer is saying. That can lead to bad feelings when you are trying to buy something from them, and it is apparent that they are not listening to you.
Overall, though, Starbucks is a good place to hang out. Yeah, there are inconveniences, and I hope those improve with time, but overall I like the place. A lot of people felt that Starbucks would be quite expensive compared to local Davao coffee shops, but I have found that their pricing is right on par with the competition. I can’t complain at all about their pricing.
If you are in Davao, give Starbucks a try. I hope you will like the place.