I have a love-hate relationship with Starbucks. It’s often the first to come to mind when I want coffee because it’s everywhere and I enjoy collecting stars in my Starbucks card to get free drinks. Their iced café mocha has also been my go-to caffeine jolt since my college days.
It’s too bad that almost every Starbucks location is usually full. I rarely get a good seat because every table has been accounted for by students or freelancers (guilty!) drinking one cup all afternoon while hogging the free Wi-Fi from the next-door establishment, office workers in the middle of a meeting, and worse, people who don’t even buy coffee but hang out there for hours. Sometimes I even end up with burnt-tasting coffee whenever the baristas are in a hurry to accommodate the long line of people.
When my colleagues at Spot.ph announced the opening of the biggest Starbucks branch in the Philippines last month, my question was: Are there enough tables, peace of mind to read a book without overhearing too many meetings, and comfortable interiors to make customers want to come back?
I finally visited the spot in Macapagal Boulevard this week, and my progress report is a thumb up!
1. The place is huge. Designed by Starbucks Design Studios Hong Kong, this two-floor establishment can seat up to 222 people. Even with dozens of students and office workers on both the first and second floor during my weekday visit, there were more than enough seats and nooks to choose from. And yes, there are some sockets where you may freely plug your gadgets.
2. The interiors are cozy. It’s a mix of industrial and minimalist with a touch of artsy.
3. The alfresco areas are just as spacious. There are plenty of outdoor tables to choose from. They all give a view of Macapagal Blvd. and neighboring spots like City of Dreams Manila.
4. There’s an interactive drive-thru, making this the 8th Philippine Starbucks (as far as I know) that has a drive-thru. The other seven are BGC, Caltex SLEX, Capital Commons, Evia Daang Hari, Marcos Highway Antipolo, Metropolis Libis, and Petron Lakeshore.
Room For Improvement:
1. Limited parking space. There are only about 12 official parking slots. When I got there at 1 p.m., it was full, so I had to wait for a car to leave the backstreet parking area shared by the customers of Starbucks, Kenny Rogers, and the other neighboring establishments.
2. Limited merchandise for sale. There are shelves of official Starbucks merch at the first floor, but they’re scant. During the opening month they were full of products, including limited-edition items. What happened? I was hoping to see a Disneyland-level souvenir shop.
Given the location along Macapagal Blvd. with surrounding casinos and hotels, I doubt this Starbucks branch will ever turn into one of those heavily populated, annoying cafés—and that’s a great thing. Drop by if you’d like to refresh your impression of Starbucks.
The biggest Starbucks PH branch is located at 9 Diosdado Macapagal Blvd. corner Bradco Ave. Parañaque City, Metro Manila.