Public letter to coffeebean Manila

Dear coffeebean team,

I’m referring to my message on your facebook page, which I was writing sitting in coffeebean M.Adriatico yesterday. I explicitly don’t want to blame your personel there, it’s a general thing. And it’s a problem not just with coffeebean, but with a lot of gastronomies in Philippines, so I’ll explain my complaints in some more detail.

Self service is something, that was invented, to provide cheap food to the lowest possible price. To save money on waiters, McDonalds and friends just skipped good service in order to provide a lower price. That’s how they became big initially. People who go there are either in a hurry or want to have cheap food and give a shit about service, as they plan to leave right after quickly swallowing the food there. You don’t sit around in a fast food store half the afternoon, because it’s not a pleasant atmosphere.

Nothing of this holds true for your lounge. People sit there, talk with friends, surf in the internet, and get another coffee after a while. It’s used more like a public living room. I don’t want to interrupt my conversation with friends or my work or chat on the computer, just because the waiter is “too lazy” or “not allowed” to bring me the food from the counter to the table, even if there are just two waiters for two customers in the whole room. Same goes for ordering something new. If I just have to wave a waiter to get a new coffee, I order twice as much, than if I have to run to the counter the whole time, leave my computer and bag unattended at the seat or carry it with me to the counter or whatever. All of that is unnecessary burden and totally misplaced in a midrange coffee lounge.

The only reason I can see why this infamous self service concept has grown like cancer in this country, is the former US influence. For me, talking with well travelled, European background, Philippines is the only place in the world, where service is not increasingly getting better with the price. You either have to go to budget or to expensive places, to get appropriate service. Somewhere in the middle, there are all the chains and places like yours, which come up with nearly US or European prices, but just blindly copy the self service concept, which actually origined in absolute low budget places.

The Caffeine, the hotel lobby of Pearl Garden some meters down the street, same problem. Across the street from there, Gloriajeanscoffee, same problem. Starbucks in the mall, same problem. So you have a good chance to actually make something better here!

Oh, and of course free wifi for paying customers is a must have. You’re not even in good company here, as in all other coffeeshops just mentioned before, there actually is free wifi. Just think about how often you actually sell this ridiculous wifi package, and how often a customer is leaving earlier, as he can’t use wifi, and does not get a second or third coffee. Or how often he goes directly to one of the other places, as the wifi is free there and the prices similar? If you ask me, it outweights the three pesos earnings from the wifi by far! And by the way, it’s not even a robust solution. If you know what you’re doing, using it without paying works fine, as demonstrated yesterday. So my clear suggestion, make it free for every guest, not only for the computer literate ones.

Kind Regards,

Michael