January 05, 2013 Hamra & Verdun Beirut Lebanon Middle East

Starbucks Hamra: A Home Away from Home
Coffee Talk


Welcoming: 4/5

Food Temperature: 7/10

Ambiance / Music: 5.5/10

Menu Choice: 4/5

Food Taste: 24/30

Architecture / Interior: 2/10

Food presentation: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Value for money: Soon

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The last time I passed by Starbucks Hamra was around eight years ago when my friends and I used to visit this renowned cafe to study for our exams. It wasn't the trend back then to take pictures and I surely was not into writing reviews, so I don't have images to show you, but from what I remember, Hamra's branch was one of the largest and most comfortable places you can ever imagine.

Today Starbucks Hamra looks smaller- half the previous size- with a completely different ambiance. Although the place now boasts three floors, it surely feels smaller. From what I remember about the original Starbucks is that it felt much more spacious. The feel of the place called for comfort, study mode... I remember their camel colored big leather sofas, tropical posters, higher ceiling, fresher colors, a library corner, the long meeting table and it was definitely better well lit.

I went downstairs and chose a corner to sit. Expect to see a smaller salon style, lower ceiling covered with oriental motif wood panels, oriental style chandeliers, dull brown interior that resembles a hall we would usually find in an Arab castle, Iranian carpets and an open space that lacks some privacy: What happened? Do people like it better that way? I personally don't! Ordering my coffee at Starbucks I was welcomed by a funny, joyful barista who made me laugh. I ordered two cafe lattes and he proposed adding some hazelnut to make them tastier: he was right. After discretely taking all the needed pictures, I went down to enjoy my coffee to the light jazz tunes that Starbucks has been renowned to broadcast. As I sipped on my coffee, I looked around to see more details of the interior...

The decoration details:

  • Arabic stone wall carvings
  • Three large Persian carpets
  • Seven square wood panels cover the cielings with oriental wooden motifs
  • A mix of dark brown trendy low leather sofas and other older ones placed all around the place
  • Small low tables in front of each set of sofas - it felt tight. Some normal height tables around with regular chairs
  • The main wall covered with the old wood window shutters that we usually see in old Lebanese buildings
  • A long dining table that can host up to 12 guests to share a coffee or a meeting
  • Coffee related posters cover the walls
  • A rustic royal bar with two lamps is placed under the stairs

I am not fond of this new interior setup! It might be nice as an overall feel but it doesn't fit the American coffee giant. It's too dull, gloomy and definitely doesn't give the feeling of an 'energy boost'. It has nothing to do with Starbucks to be honest. Another closed space is reserved, facing the cashier, for those who enjoy the hustle and bustle of Hamra city's action. There's an exterior smoking terrace at the back of the coffee house.

A simple, clear and fresh concept, Starbucks might be a bit more expensive compared to your regular coffee shop, but the service and professionalism you get justify the price. Even though I didn't like the new feel of this place, I'm going to come come back to enjoy a smoke-free and clean environment, working in a cozy relaxing ambiance accompanied with freshly brewed american coffee.

A small note: its too hot on the lower floor. It's nice and warm but it becomes a bit too much after a while. Pay attention to this detail.

Suitable For: Coffee Talk





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