Halloween book party and tasting party!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning my son and I went to our neighborhood Starbucks for a Halloween and Tasting party. Several times a year the Okubo Starbucks has a get together  where the staff entertain the children for an hour with a different theme, during that time the parents can enjoy a tasting party.  The party is limited to 10 kids and then some of the parents join the tasting party. My husband is too embarrassed to join so he always sits in the corner reading or playing something on his phone.

Today is the day was the Halloween party. All of the kids dressed up as well as some of the staff. They read a story to the kids, do a craft, and play a few games. Then at the end they all get some milk to drink! Which is my son’s favorite part.  

The kids at the end of the Halloween party!My son usually is all smiles but he could see his dad at a corner table playing Angry Birds and he wanted to do it too!

While the kids enjoyed their activities, the parents tried their hand at using a coffee press, tasted and enjoyed food pairing with a pumpkin tart and this years anniversary blend.

Pumpkin tart and Anniversary blend

Next we tried using the ceramic hand driper. It was interesting to taste the difference between the coffee even though it was the same beans. I tried. For the last few years I have been interested in how to pour the perfect hand drip coffee. I was lucky today as everyone at the coffee tasting knew me as someone who knows a lot about coffee so they assumed that ment I can make a good cup of coffee.

I wonder if I was closing my eye praying for good tasting coffee?

We poured Autumn Blend and paired it with a chestnut roll.  Now I know why Autumn blend sold out so fast. It is a really nice coffee and easy to drink.  On top of it we got some coffee to take home and a hand made card!

The partners at the Okubo store made these yesterday!

It was a really nice hour at Starbucks this morning. We can’t go to the next one at Christmas since we are going back to America for Christmas but I am looking forward to the next one!

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10th Anniversary canisters

This morning another Starbucks bloger in Tokyo posted on twitter a picture of the new 15 year anniversary canisters. That reminded me of the 10 year cans that I have at home. She asked for pictures and/or a blog. So here it is.
The cans are made from tin and came with cookies inside. If I remember correctly the cookies were not that great, but I didn’t buy it for the cookies so I am sure my husband ate them for me. Only the small can has printing on it refereing to the anniversary, but the cans were sold at the same time. I wondered why at that time and still do.
We still use these cans on a daily bases. They are on our kitchen counter and we keep a variety of stuff in them.
I hope you like this blast from the past!

Awaji Island Starbucks

Hi everyone! It has been a long time since I have had time to sit down and write. I am busy finishing my Masters in Education so my blog has had to take a back, back, BACK burner until I finish around the middle of October. BUT I have a few little bit of time this morning so I wanted to share with you a cool Starbucks that my family and I went to at the end of August.

In the past few years, Starbucks Japan has been opening stores at rest areas through-out Japan. A little more than a year ago they opened one on the island just outside of Japan. To get there you have to cross the worlds longest suspension bridge. We make this trip a couple of times a year to visit my father-in-laws home town. This is a very large rest area and has an amazing amount of traffic. When we got out of the car and walked toward the Starbucks my husband complained “Look! There are people lined up out the door.”

When we got into the store there was a lot of staff so the line moved very quickly. We assumed at first that there would be no room to sit but after a few minutes of observations, it seemed that most people were getting their coffee and eats “to-go” and we found a table for all 5 of us easily. To my pleasant surprise, there were two partners that had been transferred to that store from the store near my house. I hadn’t seen them in a long time and even my son was happy to see them! Starbucks is really just like a family! Doesn’t matter how long you haven’t seen them, they still remember your name, your kids name and your drink order! That is true love!!

While there is only seating for about 30 or so, it was never full while we were there. So if you want to spend time sitting and enjoying the view, there will be room inside as well outside! There isn’t a lot of merchandise but that is to be expected of such a small store.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of one of Kansai’s busy stores. I hope after I finish my masters I can start taking you on tours of the different store in the Kansai area! It will be fun to compare the atmosphere at each store!

See you all real soon!

What does your Starbucks look like on a Sunday afternoon?

I’m sitting here with my son waiting for a friend and her husband. That means we need four seats. When we got here we could only get two seats, then we moved to a seat where three could sit. Finally we got a seat were we all can sit. That gave me a look at people hanging out.
Some people are studing English, some are just reading novels
a couple of high school kids have their books open but not much studing is being done. Outside, an insurance lady is working her sales magic.
Even though I always say it, I am always amazed at how Japanese people use this “third place” If I didnt have a three old in tow, I might just order another cup or maybe two and just stay for a few hours. How about you?

Starbucks cup art!

Have you ever been having a bad day, or even a day that was just not going as you would like? Sure you have. Then have you ever been to a Starbucks on days like that? Sure you have. For me, those types of days might mean I got to Starbucks more than once. Then, on one of those days when you get your drink have you ever been surprised to find that someone behind the bar has taken an extra few seconds to draw a smile, write “Have a nice day” or something even more creative? Maybe or maybe not, but if you have you can attest to how that simple and small gesture can make your bad day go away in the drop of a hat. That is why I love Starbucks. It isn’t just about the coffee. Coffee is the just medium that lets you connect with wonderful people!

To me a Starbucks cup is art in itself. I want to blow up this picture and put it in a frame somewhere in our house, but my husband just laughs at my love for Starbucks art!

Yesterday my family went to our neighborhood Starbucks for our late morning break before continuing on about our day. Our son brought with him a Pokemon ball. Lucky for him the Barista behind the bar really likes to draw on the cups! This gave me an idea for this pictorial of some of the cups that I have gotten over the past few months that really made me smile! My son get’s most of the Starbucks love lately, but that is always great since it makes him smile to see something on his cup.

If you like this series I will look in my hard drives for some more cuz I know I have a ton from over the last 13 years here in Japan. Happy coffee hunting my friends!

Origami personal drip Starbucks coffee

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The other day I was fliping through my co-op shopping flyer. For those of you outside Japan that is a grocery store chain that also has home delievery. I saw they had two types of Starbucks coffee avaliable from that week so I had to order it. When it came this week I was super excited to share it with fellow Starbucks and all around coffee nut Kevin.
Starbucks has an instant coffee but has yet to get into these personal drip type products available and very popular in Japan. You just pour water slowly over the top into the coffee pouch and there you have it, a perfect cup of coffee.
As for the taste, just as good as any Starbucks coffee you make at home. Maybe better that the VIA but not as good as getting it at a Starbucks store. Cost? It comes five to a box and was about ¥400 or about $4.50. I will look for it in the grocery store next week and let you know where you can get it!
Have a great day!

Customer satisfaction

This morning my family and I left the house early so we could get to Osaka for an early morning appointment. Not knowing if there would be a traffic jam due to construction on the highway we stopped at a Starbucks before we got on the freeway. Boy was that a mistake!

This Starbucks is the same Starbucks that I lost track of time last week with my good friend. It is the same Starbucks I use to go to before finding “my” favorite store in Okubo. This is why I am still miffed that this happened. It is normally a good store but for some reason something wasn’t working right this morning. This is actually a popular store in our area since they have a wonderful outside sitting area that gets some wonderful morning sun, as well tons of inside seating.

This is what happened. I went into the store instead of using the drive through since I wanted to use my tumbler. There was only one person at the register, this person was also wearing a headset for the drive-through. The third person was fussing around in the back ground with coffee and other food items but wasn’t filling orders. There were several people in line as well as several cars outside.

When it was my turn to order, I ordered my coffee and a juice for my son. From the beginning to the end this Starbucks partner re-asked me my order a total of 5 times. Each time repeating it incorrectly. Finally, the Batista behind the bar came over and put my order into the register for me. For what ever reason he couldn’t get it right. And how did that make me, the customer feel? Like my order doesn’t matter to the company.  Especially since his apology was robotic like at best.

Customer service is one of my main criteria for determining if I will be returning to a certain store any time soon. At best, the partner behind the register should make you feel pretty darn good for choosing to come in that day. At worse it should there should at least be quick Hello and coffee with a smile. After all I just chose to spend almost 500 yen for coffee. Part of that cost I figure is for quality service which is why I choose Starbucks over other places.

The question of the day is will I be going back to that store any time soon? Yes, I will give them a second chance.

I am interested in what things you find most important when being served coffee? Leave your thoughts!

Spring is here! Part two

To tell you the truth, I LOVE SPRING! It just makes me feel wonderful. I feel like I am sheding this heavyness off by just having the warm sun on my back. To top it off Starbucks makes spring so much fun by treating us with their spring theme.

The Starbucks I go to normally near my house is not as festive as some other stores, but none the less they were trying their best yesterday when I went in. Starbucks Japan gave all employees 10 Sakura pettles to use as they wish for the start of the Sakura season. My normal store forgot to use them last week, but they started using them yesterday. Here are a few shots of some of my favorite partners showing off their Starbucks pride.

Also this week I made a split minute desion to buy one of the sakura tumblers. While the plastic ones are really cute and the price nice, after talking with the store staff about the pro and con’s of the heavy duty tumbler, I went for the expensive one and boy am I glad I did. After only one time of using it I figured it will do what I need it to do, keep my coffee hot! I got my normal vanilla latte in my tumbler when I purchased it, and by the time I got to school an hour later it was still warm. I can’t even count how many times I have gotten coffee this winter and it is luke warm at best once the train reaches the plateform. All I can say is “I am in love with my new tumbler” It is simple but yet 100% Japan Starbucks!

My final note for this week is the new Sakura Starbucks card. I was cleaning out my wallet this last week and came across all of my different cards. In the bunch was last years card. I really like them both but this years card is a step above them all. I love the embossing and 3-D like effects as well as the put the date on the card this year.

Thank for all your feed back so far. It is wonderful to see others enjoying what I am sharing as well as knowing we have a strong connection with a place that makes us feel at home no matter where we are in the world.

As always, please leave your comments and feedback. See you all soon!

Why Starbucks?

I woke up this morning and as my family was getting ready to start our Sunday morning my husband asked me what was on our adgenda for that day and my standard responce was “First, Starbucks. Then we can talk about the rest later.” This has been my set reply for as long has he has know me. Why? Because for as long as most people have known me, I take great pleasure in going to Starbucks, ordering the same cup of coffee for close to 20 years ( grande, 15 second shot-depending on the machine, no-fat, vanilla latte for your information), then sitting down with some form of media (newspaper, book, cell phone, ipad) and thinking about what lies ahead of me for the rest of the day.

Some say to me that “you could do the same thing anywhere else. McDonalds has a good cup of coffee.  Why Starbucks?” That is the golden question! And what I am going to share with you over the next few weeks, months and hopefully if you want to keep reading, years.

The key to a great start of my day includes a visit to one of my many favorite Starbucks. Not only does the beverage that comes out of my cup matter but several other important factor. The first thing is how friendly the staff is to not only myself but other customers. Part of the Starbucks experience is talking with the register staff. If they have to ask me my order over and over again, I start to wonder if I really matter to them or the company. That puts a major damper on my day. A great point of salesperson makes you believe you are one of the most important persons in the world at that moment. When I move to a new area or town I in effect audition several different stores over the course of two or thress months to figure out which one is going to be my next home away from home. Silly? Maybe. Important for my routine? Indispensible. Why you ask? First thing is 460 yen is a lot of money for just a cup of coffee. So not only is Starbucks selling coffee but they are selling an atmosphere. In effect, where ever I go in the world and I spot that little green sign with our siren gal in the middle, we are in fact able to transport ourselves to where ever home is.

In up coming blog posts I am going to take you deeper into my love for Starbucks and that little taste of home. I am also going to highlight the great things that Starbucks Ltd. Japan does that is unique to Japan. Right now we are full into the Valentine season and Starbucks chocolate. Coming this next week, starting on the 15th of Feburary, Starbucks will debut it’s Sakura (cherry blossom) drink line. If it is anything like last year, they will have wonderful bread and sweets to go along with the limited time drinks. I will write more about the up coming food, drinks and mugs/tumblers. Thank God that Starbucks changes the food and drinks every three months. It will give us lots to chat about!

I look forward to reading your comments, input and suggestions.

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