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Starbucks opens ten stores in Amsterdam and Randstad

DutchAmsterdam.nl — Consider this a ‘consumer alert’ of sorts… Starbucks is finally putting some haste behind its ever-so-slow roll-out in the Netherlands.

Not that we’ve been waiting for it, considering the fact that — as coffee connoisseurs — our experiences with the current Starbucks locations in Amsterdam have been far less than satisfying. In our opinion, Starbucks = no stars and too many bucks.

Don’t get us wrong: it’s not that we’ve never had a decent cup of coffee at Starbucks, but rather that over the past few years we haven’t got a great cup of coffee — one that justifies both the price and the hassle. Hassle? Yes, the hassle of Starbucks pretending to have some Italian roots by using (and occasionally misusing) Italian terminology in its menu — though admittedly that’s a minor concern.

Anyway, there are people who — for one reason or another — do like Starbucks coffee. We figure those are the same folks who upon their arrival in Amsterdam head for the nearest McDonald’s for a ‘taste of home.’

Starbucks Leidsestraat Amsterdam

Starbucks, Leidsestraat 101 in Amsterdam
© Copyright DutchAmsterdam.nl. Want to use this photo?

It come as no surprise that Starbuck’s first ‘real’ store in Amsterdam opened today in Leidsestraat, just a stone’s throw from Leidseplein. Locals will recognize the spot as the erstwhile location of Austalian Ice Cream.

It’s sure to be a hit with tourists. Amsterdammers, meanwhile, will likely prefer the CoffeeCompany just down the street (Leidsestraat 60) which, incidentally, was the first of 24 locations in Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, Groningen, Rotterdam and Delft.

Starbucks in Amsterdam

Technically Starbucks has had a presence in Amsterdam since 2002 when it opened a roasting plant at the Port of Amsterdam. The plant included a little-known store.

Holland’s second Starbucks store is located inside the Nike’s headquarters in Hilversum — but it is accessible only to Nike employees.

In 2007 Starbucks opened three locations at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol — 1 in the main plaza, one across from Arrivals 4, and one in the Terminal 1 departure area.

Later the chain opened Starbucks stores at the train stations of Amsterdam, Utrecht and Leiden.

The train station locations are co-operated with Netherlands Railways daughter Servex, and the Schiphol stores are teamed with HMS Host. Hence the location at Leidestraat is considered Starbuck’s first ‘real’ store in Amsterdam.

“Within a year we’ll have ten new stores,” European Director Rich Nelson tells Dutch news agency ANP, promising that this is only the beginning.

Inititally the company will focus on the Randstad — the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Europe. It consists of the four largest Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht), and the surrounding areas.

Netherlands Has a Fantastic Coffee Culture

“The Netherlands has a fantastic coffee culture so we should have done this long ago,” Nelson admits. He tells ANP he believes Starbucks will do well, even though other company’s have already filled what he believes to be the hole in the market. Nelson is not worried about Starbucks’ chances: “There is still plenty of room and usually we create growth in a market.”

Coffee at Petit Grand Café 'Granny', Amsterdam

Petit Grand Café ‘Granny’ in Amsterdam
© Copyright DutchAmsterdam.nl. Want to use this photo?

“The average Dutch person drinks three to four cups of coffee a day; we want to be as many of those cups as possible.” (Note to the folks at Google Translate – this is not quite a correct translation: “The average American drinks three to four cups of coffee a day, we want as many of those heads.” While ‘koppen’ can indeed be translated as ‘heads,’ turning Dutch people into Americans is unforgivable).

Nelson says the company learned what Dutch consumers like from its train station shops. “We’ll adjust a bit. We’re not changing our recipes, but we’ll likely add a local drink and certainly apple pie.”

But it’s the recipes we’re concerned about. Many of the coffee drinks we have tasted at Starbucks just weren’t good enough.

By the way, the Dutch rank fifth in the world when it comes to yearly per capita consumption of coffee, while the USA ranks 27th.

Starbucks: Worst Coffee at the Highest Prices

As for us — we’re finished with Starbucks. We’ve given its Amsterdam locations more than enough of a chance to shape up. Instead, we head to our usual coffee hot spots, ranging from such café’s as Het Loosje and De Tuin to dedicated coffee stores like Lungoccino and Al Ponte.

We suggest you do the same. When in Amsterdam, find yourself a coffee house or café that’s filled with locals. Order a coffee. Enjoy it and perhaps light a candle for Starbucks. They’re going to need it.

Incidentally, we’re no alone when it comes to our observations about Starbucks:

Starbucks is peddling the worst coffee at the highest prices according to a survey of the big three coffee houses on Britain’s high streets.
– Source: Best coffee on high street? Not Starbucks, Times Online, The Times, Jan. 24, 2008

Starbucks sells coffee that is poor quality and over-priced, according to a survey of cafe’s.

The biggest player in Britain’s £900m-a-year coffee shop industry offers blander drinks than its competitors Costa Coffee and Caffé Nero and is costlier than most rivals, testers for the consumer group Which? reported.
– Source: Starbucks is bottom of high street coffee test, The Independent, Jan. 24, 2008

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