If your passion is coffee, you would find pleasure in visiting coffee shops around the world. For us, not only did these coffee shops serve extraordinary coffee, they each told a story of their passion and heritage.
We have 5 criteria when visiting a coffee shop in any city we visited. We look for safety, cleanliness, free Wi-Fi, washroom facilities and a room filled with the aroma of coffee. Flavor and quality are not mentioned here because we can’t tell at first sight unless we have tried the coffee. After making a few wrong judgments we know better than to “judge a book by its cover!”
Countries like Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Iceland, Russia, Indonesia and New Zealand had a variety of coffee shops that met these criteria and served up good quality coffee.
So most of the time we didn’t make any effort to look for Starbucks unless the local coffee shops didn’t meet our needs.
What we didn’t know was that Starbucks stores outside the United States are very different. They are usually located in majestic old buildings or have local inspired décor. Usually we had the option of having coffee served in ceramic mugs or in big cups with saucers, unless we ordered cold brewed coffee like the Frappaccinos or iced coffee.
Starbucks’ first international location was opened in Tokyo Japan in 1996. Today the company has over 21,000 stores in over 65 countries. There were no Starbucks in Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Iceland and Mongolia when we visited.
Take a look at 7 Starbucks around the world which we’ve visited:
Located on the second floor overlooking the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Starbucks Cusco was one of the most pleasant Starbucks in the world. The staff were friendly and the view was worth more than the price of a Frappucino. The Starbucks coffee and some pastries were the same as Starbucks in the United States.
Wi-Fi was free and strong, and there was ample seating inside the store and at the balcony overlooking Plaza de Armas, Cusco’s town square.
We chose to visit Starbucks Cusco for the view, not because there was no good coffee in Cusco. Starbucks Cusco had a unique blend of Algorrobina café and Algorrobina sin café. Algorrobina is black carob tree syrup unique to Peru.
You can read more about Starbucks Cusco here.
Starbucks has a strong presence in Lima, Peru. You can find their stores in the city center, in the upscale neighborhood of Miraflores and in the airport. We visited the Jiron de la Union 498 location near the Plaza de Armas de Lima.
The coffee and pastries are the same as in Cusco, Peru and they provide free Wi-Fi and ample seating.
Xintiandi Shanghai, China
Starbucks Xintiandi Shanghai on Taicang Road off Madang Road in Luwan District is a very popular meeting point for locals. Xintiandi is the new upscale neighborhood and shopping area of Shanghai. It consists of restored Shikumen houses and modern shopping malls.
Yuyuan Bazaar Shanghai, China
Starbucks Yuyuan Bazaar Shanghai, China is located amongst popular souvenir and snack shops next to the Yu Garden. Ironically, Starbucks Yuyuan Bazaar was busier than the traditional teahouse a few steps away.
Shamian Island Guangzhou
Starbucks Shamian Island Guangzhou is located in a colonial house in historic Shamian Island Guangzhou. Shamian Island was where western merchants built their mansions, churches, guesthouses and commercial buildings in Guangzhou in southern China during the 19th century.
The colonial house that houses Starbucks has 2 floors, a large front porch and balconies. Similar colonial homes are located in the tree-lined neighborhood. Starbucks Shamian Island was set up like a home with many rooms for relaxation upstairs and downstairs. The porch area was mainly for smokers.
Ubud Bali, Indonesia
Starbucks Ubud is located next to a Hindu Temple on a main street in Ubud, the cultural town of Bali. This seemed to be the only air-conditioned establishment along Jalan Raya Ubud (Raya Ubud Road). It was necessary for us to drop by at Starbucks Ubud after walking for half an hour in the hot and humid Ubud.
Queenstown New Zealand
Starbucks has a huge presence in New Zealand. Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand has over 12 Starbucks coffee shops and counting. We happened to be window shopping in the trendy Newmarket and dropped by to check out the Newmarket Auckland New Zealand. It was just a normal Starbucks just like any American Starbucks.
While in Queenstown we visited the only Starbucks in town at corner of Camp Street and The Mall. Wi-Fi code is given to customers and was limited to just one hour. Most restaurants in Queenstown would only provide free Wi-Fi codes with half-hour or 1 hour limit.
Being inside a Starbucks coffee shop sometimes gave us the illusion that we were home in the United States. The Starbucks siren seemed so welcoming when we were homesick. Starbucks is like home away from home when we need to get away from all the foreignness of a country, especially so when we were in a country for over a month.
Have you ever visited a Starbucks in a foreign land because you needed something familiar?