Starbucks South Africa – The International Craze Is Here To Stay!

Starbucks South Africa – The International Craze Is Here To Stay!

Think back to when Krispy Kreme opened it’s doors a while back – and we heard reports of queues spanning hours just to get a chance to have one of those glazed doughnuts in your possession.

Now, imagine that hype – and amplify it by tenfold – and then some. Now you have a brief understanding of the excitement and elation surrounding the opening of Starbucks, for the very first time, on South African soil.

But what places Starbucks South Africa in a very special position, one that you may not be entirely aware of? Let me tell you.

Starbucks South Africa – Only The Best

If you were a multinational, multi-billion-dollar company venturing into an area for the very first time, you’re undoubtedly paying due diligence to who you’re going to entrust a global brand’s reputation with.

With this in the back of their mind’s, I personally think Starbucks has made the best possible decision by placing none other than WBC, Ishan Natalie at the forefront of their South African footprint.

Now, without further ado, we share Starbucks’ responses to the questions we know you’re dying to have answered!

Starbucks South Africa – A Q&A

So obviously Starbucks is brand new and shiny to us South Africans; it’s taken a while for the coffee giant to land here – would you predict it blowing up locally the way it has overseas?

We have had an overwhelming response which has been both phenomenal and humbling. I believe that with the love and support that we experience, there are definitely growth opportunities.

Starbucks has a bit of a bad rap for “diluting” what coffee should be – and making more of a profit off of speciality drinks like Frappé’s and the all too famous “Pumpkin Spiced Latte.” Do you believe this to be the case?

Starbucks offers 100% Arabica coffee. The focus is on giving our customers a wide range of beverages to choose from and allow them to personalise their beverage to suit their preference.

How does Starbucks SA measure up against the already established overseas brand?

We offer the core menu that you can expect in any Starbucks around the world.

For those hardcore coffee-loving caffeine addicts, what drink would you recommend they try at least once before they make any judgement?

From the Core Concept Bar, a Flat White with origin espresso (currently Kenya); choose any of the Reserve concept espresso based drinks which are made from our Reserve Small Lot Reserve coffee selection with the option to brew with the Chemex, Drip, French Press, Siphon or Starbucks’ proprietary Clover Brewing system (1 cup filter brewer).

What makes Starbucks what it is – in your own opinion?

It is the attention to detail, focus on customer service and the partners (term used for employees). Everything is through the lens of humanity – it’s truly a people’s company serving coffee.

What coffee beans does Starbucks use? Are they locally sourced – or is it a specific bean that’s commissioned by Starbucks?

Starbucks uses a wide range of coffee beans sourced through direct relationships with farmers worldwide. We have a core range of beans that are available throughout the year and the Reserve coffee range which are Microlot, seasonal and limited.

My previous questions refers: If the beans are sourced locally, is there not a possibility for a lack of consistency from Starbucks USA VS Starbucks SA?

Starbucks prides itself on consistency and that’s what makes them who they are and trusted by our customers. The business is designed for our customers to have a consistent experience at any of our stores no matter where in the world. Our roaster supplies a premium, consistent product to Starbucks stores around the world.

What coffee machine does Starbucks use – and how does it measure up to previous machines you’ve come to know and love? (read – the Simonelli or the likes)

For the Core concept, we use a Starbucks designed and commissioned Mastrena machine for consistency and speed of service, heightened by our Beverage Routine production process. Our full Reserve concepts (currently the 1 of 2 concepts in Rosebank) uses a Victoria Arduino Black Eagle (as used in the World Barista Championship) and Simonelli Climapro grinders as well as our Clover Brewing System.

Is it a myth that Starbucks purposely misspells peoples names, or is this just another unfair bad rap?

We focus on connecting with our customers and personalising their experience. Sometimes names do get misspelt/heard incorrectly, but this is not intentional and mostly turns out to be a fun interaction between the Barista handing over the drink and the customer.

What is the craziest request you’ve had so far from a customer at Starbucks?

Mostly quirky names that the customers wish for us to write on the cup.

What can we expect to see on the menu that will blow us away – and how much would it set us back?

As I mentioned before, we serve a wide range of beverages to suit every customers needs/ preference. I suggest trying any and all to find the ones that will stand out the most to you. We are able to customise any drink to your liking and intrigue. The prices will vary based on the drink, size and modifications. We are in line with local pricing guidelines.

We’ve seen the likes of Seattle Coffee Co. landing themselves in the convenient spaces of petrol stations – do you think Starbucks might take this route in the future, or is the vision to stay as a set store for now?

We are very proud of our current stores and the neighbourhoods we serve. There are various factors that we consider when choosing locations. Starbucks provides consumers with the ultimate “third place’ – a place for human connections. As such, we require ample space to facilitate this brand promise. As we are new in the market, we certainly also look at spaces that will allow the brand visibility and provide enough footfall to sustain our business.

Is there anything you’d like us to know about Starbucks in South Africa that we, in our excitement, might be missing or overlooking?

We are very people focussed, on connecting with and uplifting one and all. We pay special attention to this and creating inspired moments in peoples’ days by nurturing and inspiring the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.

To me, this is possibly one of the most insightful reviews we’ve had – for any coffee company. We are so often overwhelmed and distracted by the hypes around a new product or franchise that we overlook the real mission and objective of that company as a whole.

Starbucks South Africa in Review

Yes, some tough questions were asked, but Starbucks came back to us with answers we had never expected. So often, with the commercialisation of pretty much everything, we believe that once a business is franchised, it loses it’s capability to be ranked amongst the elite.

Let this be the exception to the rule – and a lesson – to show us coffee lovers that a company can expand exponentially and still keep true top their core focus and consistency of service and product, and focus on customer satisfaction.

To be entirely honest, the Starbucks South Africa hype had me a little sceptical at first, but after hearing this, I understand the true passion driving Starbucks, as well as the people who live that passion daily. Now I cannot wait to get my hands on a cup of the magical nectar myself!

Lastly, but very importantly, it’s taken Starbucks close on 3 decades to get their brand to where it is today. We owe a lot to founder – Howard Schultz- for spearheading one of the most globally recognised brands in history. He evolved from an employee of then “Pequod”, to the owner of the company in 1987; the reason for the name change was that “Pequod” – originally a name borrowed from a whaling ship from Moby Dick, was rejected. Instead, they dubbed the coffee chain “Starbucks” – after the chief mate of the Pequod. Quite frankly I’d have voted for Starbucks over Pequod any day 🙂

Starbucks South Africa Aquaspresso
Starbucks South Africa – Ishan Natalie

Do tell us, have you been to Starbucks South Africa, and what was your highlight of the visit?