Sunday, 5 January 2014

Starbucks vs Nero (independents being a whole different discussion)

Before we get into a heated debate about the problems with chains affecting those indie coffee shops (which I love, there is nothing better than knowing you're a) supporting a local and b) the taste of really good badass tea/coffee/cakes made with a personal loving touch) can we just consider this post un-related to that discussion for the moment?

This is a size small/tall (same thing different name) from Cafe Nero and Starbucks respectively (note that the picture isn't entirely accurate, the Nero cup appears even smaller in comparison in real life! Last time I got a medium at Nero's it felt more like the Tall (small) size at Starbucks.). Now for those times when you just need something on-the-go, can't find a local you know to be decent, and want something where you know what to expect, I'm a Starbucks girl. Got the points card and hit the annual Gold member status. I'm that much of a sell-out. But seriously... Granted, Nero's latte stands at £1.85 v Starbuck's £2.15 (both takeaway prices). But still, the size difference in reality (including how full the cup was) is rather shocking. 

On top of that, every Nero employee I've spoken to has warned me off the pastries as they are left out longer than any other chains tend to do, hence the often stale muffins. Equally, I will say I don't particularly agree with Starbucks' policy to chuck everything out at the end of the day if it hasn't sold (shelters? donations? leave it out on a tray somewhere?). 

On a side note, it's also worth noticing that Starbucks stocks up on Fairtrade and Organic beans (starting in 2009, it became the largest buyer of Fairtrade coffee in the world) , which may be another reason for the slightly higher pricing. While Costa Coffee goes with the UK's Rainforest Alliance certificate (similar, although some refer to it as Fairtrade lite), Caffe Nero is a bit of a different matter. 

According to Ethical Consumer they use the Fair Trade Coffee logo a lot, but openly acknowledge that not all of it's coffee is even traceable. It is bought on the open market, meaning there is no way of knowing how it was produced or where it originates. And no, it does not actually sell any fairtrade coffee despite it's branding. If this is still true that sounds like quite a dodgy attempt at gaining respectability amongst the clientele. (There is of course also the debate of Fairtrade v other options available, for example Cafe Britt, and that's an important discussion to have. But small steps like Fairtrade are not to be discounted, equally it's great that more and more schemes are empowering the local farmers). 

All these things considered though everyone has their favourite. Some people like or dis-like a brand on principle (and the dis-likes often seem to be Starbucks related... Could it be due to the US origin vs the UK founded chains?). Emotional and taste preference mix together. It's entirely personal in many ways, and my entirely personal choice of high-street would be Starbucks. Again, this isn't a post about the local options (often preferable, often tastier, often more homey and personal, often better treated staff - NOT always, but often).  

It's a tough economy, and a little coffee treat now and then should be worth the buck. Just saying... 


*Note - Starbucks US and Starbucks UK Fairtrade policies vary. This post covers the UK parts. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad it wasn't just me that noticed how ridiculously small the Nero cup was. I won't be buying from them again, considering I may as well just buy a 330ml diet coke can for 60p and end up with more caffiene (and drink)