Starbucks Celebrates 19 Years in the Philippines!

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I find it incredible that despite having 300 stores across 58 cities in the Philippines, the Starbucks experience is the same wherever you go. You are greeted warmly each time you enter the store, and all the baristas serve you with a smile. “Going beyond” means making meaningful small talk with the customers, and even developing friendships with them. I’ve said this so many times: Starbucks is not just selling coffee, they’re selling an experience.

This month, Starbucks celebrates its 19th anniversary of selling this experience in the Philippines.

In my case, Starbucks has become my go-to place if I want to hang out without doing anything specific. If I’m alone, I go there to read, catch up on work, or write. If I’m with friends or on a date, we usually sit and talk after eating, watching a movie, or shopping. It has become my cozy spot, and it feels the same wherever I am.

I’ve had a lot of memorable experiences in different Starbucks branches in Manila. My ex and I have stayed in many of them, stretching the night so we wouldn’t have to part. We’ve spent nights in Greenbelt 1 and 3, in Leviste and Herrera Streets in Makati, in the Reserve branch in Signa Residences, SM Aura, in the Mall of Asia Arena, and in SM Southmall on the night he installed the shelves in my room.

Kyot.

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When I was in college, nights out with my friends meant dinner followed by a trip to Starbucks in TriNoma or in one of those streets named after scouts (I live in the south so I can’t remember which one). There was also that time when we cut class and hung out in the Starbucks branch at the ABS-CBN Complex in Quezon City. I remember being drunk. Earlier this year, I went back because I thought the Teavana launch was there. It turned out to be in the newly-opened branch down the road, but I had fun reminiscing that afternoon many years ago.

Starbucks has seen me at my moments of failure. A guy I was dating “broke things off” with me on the balcony of the branch in Glorietta 4. I went on a date with a few other guys there, whose names and faces escape me now. I do remember that on one date, one guy produced a Kenny Rogers corn muffin from his jacket pocket. On another, I ordered the Hojicha Frappuccino with Earl Grey Jelly, which I never saw again (like the guy). Another time, a friend and I wanted to start a business and we laid the foundation at the Lucky Chinatown store. But nothing beats driving to Tagaytay to have coffee only to see that the famous branch was already closed for the night.

Work also kept me in Starbucks. I’ve written tons of articles and sent countless emails in Shangri-La Mall, at the Makati Stock Exchange, Molito, Burgos Circle, and on 32nd Street in Bonifacio Global City. I launched my now-defunct website Voyeur.ph in RCBC Plaza. When I was still working in an office, my boss and I had a heart-to-heart talk in Northgate, where we cried in the communal table. A large chunk of my Starbucks time was spent there, and one of the baristas once showed me a video of her newly-born son.

I use planners and I’ve used several of the Starbucks planners. My first was the 2007 edition, which I got in SM San Lazaro. I got the 2015 edition at 6750 Ayala Avenue, while I got the 2016 edition in the RCBC Corporate Center in BGC. I got next year’s edition in Shangri-La Mall.

As you can see, I’ve explored a lot of Starbucks branches in my time. I’m sure a lot of people have, too, and I’m sure there are many more who have been to twice as many stores. Aside from their wide range of coffee and snacks, I think the atmosphere Starbucks creates help a lot. Since 1997, Starbucks has witnessed friends getting together, families bonding, and officemates relaxing. In short, it has become the third place between work and home.

It’s easy to imagine Starbucks enjoying a fair share of the market in the Philippines because we’re so sociable. We enjoy spending time with our friends and family.

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Our love for Starbucks is so strong that two Filipinos got to design two Red Cups featured this year. The Red Cups are a holiday tradition, and often features artwork from customers. This year includes Dubai-based Anz’s “Ornaments” and Chicago-based Chloe’s “Birch Forest.” I wonder what their Starbucks stories are.

What’s yours? Share your moments of being together at Starbucks at www.meetmeatstarbucks.ph

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