I have been a customer of Coffee Republic in Temple Row, Birmingham for almost 10 years and the customer service from some of the staff has dropped over the years.
The last time I visited 10/10/13 I bought a coffee and received a code to surf the internet, at 5.56 pm a lady came over who appeared to be in charge and said we are closing. I said I have a few minutes to finish and she uttered coldly make sure you do. I said anyway you stop serving at 6 so obviously the customers have a few minutes to finish their drinks. She retorted we stop serving at 5.50pm and we expect everybody out by 6pm.
I was about to leave at 6.02pm and was just about to use the toilet before I left and the same woman I had spoken to before said where are you going. I said I am using the toilet. She said we are closed. I said I need to use the toilet. She said no we are closing.
I started to leave and I said I believe you are part of a chain with many cafes and she said that is correct. I informed her I was going to complain to their head office about her disgusting offensive behaviour. She then started ranting on about this and that and I just said I have no intention of arguing with you I am just going to complain about your offensive behaviour.
I have reported this incident to their Customer Service and they emailed back mentioning they would investigate the matter. I have not heard from them since but from a company who employs offensive staff like the one I had problems with I do not expect much.
I am not aware of the law on this but refusing the use of a public toilet to a paying customer may very well be breaking one of the environment laws.
Coffee Republic is a British coffee bar chain that has been gradually growing since it's first outlet opened in London back in 1995. It's not one of the most popular coffee shops in my opinion, and as they're not quite as widespread as its competitors such as Starbucks they be found in every large town/city, but it's one of my top choices for a yummy hot chocolate & nice atmosphere.
It's founded by a couple, brother and sister I believe, who couldn't find anywhere in the UK able to replicate the same feel of New York coffee shops. Having been to America (though not New York) I see where they're coming from as American coffee shops has a distinct feel to them, and one that I really like. Plus, coffee shops on sitcoms like Friends always look so warm & welcoming, which is a much better image than Americans must get of the 'Café' in Eastenders' Albert Square!
There are about 51 bars (& 98 concessions) in the UK I believe, many (if not all) with free Wi-Fi. Coffee Republic also have a website, so you can find your nearest branch. They have a customer reward scheme via a card you can get stamped at the till, giving you a free drink after you've tallied up enough purchases. I always like these freebies for loyal customers, makes me much more inclined to use one branch over another than doesn't offer such a scheme. There are also meal deals, usually posted on a board outside, and student NUS discounts (10% I think) available.
... Products ...
Drinks, including : Cold drinks like smoothiest, a very large (and delicious sounding!) milkshakes, bottled water/juice/pop. Hot drinks such as coffees, teas and hot chocolates. Obviously, it's their coffee that Coffee Republic shout about, but there are plenty of other options available to suit both coffee lovers and haters.
Food, including : Chilled snacks & meals to take to the counter, warmed foods like wraps, muffins, shortbread, toasties, etc. There's a fair amount of choice for nibbles, as well as sandwiches, and can often be bought as part of a meal deal to save a few pennies. I would still avoid splashing out on toasties etc if I'm watching what I spend because £6 can easily be gone on a frothy coffee and toasty.
... The stores ...
Generally speaking, the stores seem to have a comforting feel to them. Although they're updated and fairly modern, they also retain a classic appeal, such as the dark interior. I think this adds to that New York ambiance the founders were hoping to recreate.
... Customer Service ...
Though there can be some long queues in here if you pick a busy time such as around lunch, the tills are quite fast. Staff seem to be friendly, helpful and efficient on the whole, so I don't really have anything to complain about per se. I did notice once I was over charged, and asked her why it had cost more than it said on the board for my drinks, and she had keyed in the wrong one and I ended up with coffee by mistake, but it was quickly rectified without any problems.
... My experience ...
I've not really had any negative experiences in Coffee Republic, even when the dishwasher broke down and we were all given paper cups instead of proper mugs because at least the staff were friendly and polite about it.
The general atmosphere is usually quite nice. The nearest one to me, which is about 40 mins away, is a relatively good size with some upstairs seating, and plenty of tables & chairs downstairs. It can get quite busy, but more often than not there's somewhere to sit and relax whilst you enjoy your cuppa.
I like the stand away from the serving counter where you can get your bits & pieces, such as sugar or napkins. They usually have powdered products too, like chocolate which you can sprinkle on top of your drinks. It's only a small detail, but it means you can help yourself rather than having to go back and wait for extra things you may need but weren't given.
I mainly stick to hot chocolate from here, so I can't really comment too much on a variety of the menu. From the little I have had, I can say I've thought it's all been of good quality and tasty, though overpriced. That said, I find all coffee shops to be overpriced and wonder how some people manage to visit them more than once a fortnight.
Individual branches will vary, but generally speaking I think I would choose Coffee Republic over Starbucks if I don't want to spend a fortune and want some space to relax and enjoy a drink.
I would recommend Coffee Republic, even though having had a quick glance at previous ratings, I may be on my own in thinking that. I like the atmosphere overall, and love the hot chocolate as it's very, very yummy! I also like the stamped reward card, student discount, meal deals etc available, as it makes the branch appear more customer-oriented.
Definitely worth a try next time you're out and about and want a drink, a rest, some food or a chat with friends :o)
Coffee is very important to me. I adore the stuff, but due to chronic insomnia I have to limit myself to no more than one or two mugs a day. Therefore, when I do indulge, I expect the coffee to be perfect - strong but milky, flavoursome and just the right temperature. I'd also like to be able to relax in a decent environment while I drink it, and to maybe nibble something tasty to keep me going throughout the rest of the day. Coffee Republic managed to sabotage every single one of these requirements, and I left their coffee bar unsatisfied, miserable, and with a seriously nasty taste in my mouth, for more reasons than one. **** THE COFFEE I asked for a medium sized Cappuccino. First of all, the assistant got my order wrong and served me black filter coffee. When I finally managed to get hold of the right drink, it was barely warm, only half filled the mug and tasted like warm milk, with the faintest trace of bitter coffee in the background. I complained that the coffee was cold, and they reluctantly made me another, but it was exactly the same as the first! I don't expect a scalding brew, but this was more like a 'frappa' than a 'Cappa!' Vile. If you're not put off by my horrible experience, I should point out that Coffee Republic offers all the usual hot bevvies, cappuccino, latte, filter coffee, hot chocolate and tea. My colleague tried the tea and declared it drinkable, but nothing special. **** THE SNACKS I spied a fruity scone under the bakery counter, and thought I'd give it a go, as it looked quite nice, and I needed something to get the taste of the horrible lukewarm coffee out of my mouth. The assistant put the scone on the plate and I asked for some butter. All I got was a blank stare. Had I actually spoken out loud? "Could I have some butter for the scone please?" I repeated. Off she went to find some butter - apparently a near impossible task
, as she was gone for nearly five minutes - and returned with what looked like a little pot of butter. Great. I paid and sat back down to enjoy the scone. It wasn't butter, it was cream. I couldn't be bothered to complain again, and I didn't trust them not to spit in my butter if they ever actually managed to locate some, as I'd already complained about the coffee and was obviously just a bitter twisted individual determined to make as much fuss as I possibly could in their eyes, so I just ate the scone dry. It was okay, as dry unbuttered scones go, but I wouldn't have it again. Other snacks they offer include a selection of sandwiches, cakes, potato chips and chocolate. Surely they couldn't get those wrong - but then, I wouldn't have thought they could have got a buttered scone wrong either... **** SERVICE AND SURROUNDINGS From the outside, the coffee shop looked quite inviting, with posters of steaming mugs of coffee in the windows and a neat brown sign above the window. Inside, it was plastic, grey and utterly uninspiring. The counter was littered with sugar wrappers and stirrers and half finished mugs of coffee. There were only two counter staff, one of whom periodically went around half heartedly collecting plates and mugs, but he didn't clean the tables and the whole place seemed really dirty and untidy. The seats were uncomfortable, plastic and rigid, as far removed from Starbucks's comfy sofas as you can imagine. I was seriously unimpressed. **** PRICES Your standard London coffee shop prices, a bit cheaper than Starbucks and a bit pricier than Costa. I think my coffee was about £1.70, and the scone was about £1.05p. I can categorically state without any hesitation whatsoever that neither was worth what I paid for them. **** CONCLUSION I wasn't impressed by Coffee Republic at all. There are far nicer places, off
ering far better quality coffee and a higher standard of service. Maybe the branch I went to (Soho) was particularly awful, but I wouldn't be keen on giving them another try. Life's too short to drink bad coffee.
This served great coffee when it started but since massive expansion has gone downhill all the way.. - Advantages: so-so decor, can provide shelter if it rains, and that's about it, really - Disadvantages: ubiquity, you pay a lot for over-priced fronth, image over substance
As a non-coffee drinker the other day I paid my first visit to Coffee Republic. My boss asked me to go out and buy a 'wet tall lattee' for him - translated this is a medium milky coffee without the froth. It was 11.00 am in the morning and the place was buzzing with most tables occupied. There was quite a queue at the counter and about four people busily serving and shouting out orders behind the counter. There is an extensive coffee menu - espresso, capuccinos, latte, mocha and also a range of iced coffees, hot chocolate and Teazers and fruit teazer (a fruity iced tea). I had been told to buy something for myself and had seen an advert advertising 'green tea' (very healthy!) for sale on the way in so I thought I'd try that. As I got nearer to the top of the queue I realised that it must have been the server on the till's first day on the job and it looked as though he was not having a good day! "Yes please?", he said. "A wet latte - with no froth please", I replied. "What size?" he barked, without looking up from his till. "Tall." "Eat here or to go?" "Take away. Also, do you do green teas (I could find no mention of this on the menu)?" At this point a more experienced girl stepped in - "Yes we do the Fruit Teazer but we don't have any of that at the moment, we also do a range of herbal teas that contain green tea." A herbal tea containing green tea? - that's what I thought. Herbal teas contain no tea at all - not even green! "Ok, I'll try a herbal tea then. What flavours do you have" To be fair they had a good range - peppermint, camomile, raspberry and cranberry. My heart sank when she produced a Twinnings tea bag and plonked it in one of their tall plastic cups and I realised that I was going to be charged £1.60 for this. The guy at the till was still looking at hi
s till for inspiration - there was no pre-set button for herbal tea! The girl stepped in frantically pushing buttons. I paid my money and waited. My server went on to serve other people and I realised that the coffee would just arrive at the serving table at the end when it was ready. Various coffees came and went and two seemed to be standing on their own so I assumed they were mine. The cups had some indecipherable scribble on them so no way of telling. Now I had to find some lids and a bag, spoons, sugar. Basically you are left to do everything yourself from this stage onwards. By the way the cardboard trays for two cups don't actually fit inside the little bag but two cups do fit nicely and providing the lids are on shouldn't spill. Well, my boss enjoyed his coffee, although it had froth on it - he'd had trouble getting it without the froth too. I think CR's tea making skills need a little improvement though. My tea was very watery as it had been served in too big a cup - you need a smaller cup to get the full flavour. I believe the coffee is good at CR so this must be why they are so popular. They closed down 3 shops last year after making an operating loss. Despite making a further smaller loss, they are expanding and plan to open another 30 bars over the next 12 months and hopes to have 200 outlets across the UK by 2004 so if there is not one in your town soon, there soon will be.
I hope you're prepared because this is not going to be pretty! I'm normally a fairly easy going fellow, but this store has really got me riled. Are you ready because this is going to be a bit of a hatchet job!!! So, who out there could have possibly caused an easy going guy like myself to get all riled and upset? Well, it's something as simple as a Coffee Shop! Not just any old coffee shop, although god knows some of them are very poor and wouldn't know a decent cup of coffee if it came up to them, slapped them in the face with a wet trout and shouted '"I'M A DECENT CUP OF COFFEE" in a booming Irish accent! The shop that has really got my goat is Coffee Republic, particularly the Manchester branch. So what have they done? I hear you cry. Well, lots of little things that have just ground away inside and resulted in this tirade. It's quite a long story so I'll start where all good fairy tales should start, at the beginning. Once upon a time there was a young, happy, very good looking boy called Paul (hey, I'm the author I'm allowed to use a bit of writer's license!). He was a big fan of just sitting around drinking coffee and reading the papers. He had been a really happy boy lately as many new coffee bars had opened up where he lived and he spent his days travelling the town, drinking coffee, reading the newspaper then visiting the various toilets in the area! One fine day he was wandering the high street, the sun was shining and the birds were singing. It was a good day. He looked up and saw a new coffee shop had opened up. Paul was very happy at this, and went straight inside to try it out. First impressions were promising. Paul looked down the counter and saw a good array of food, some sandwiches, pannini, a few pasta salads, an assortment of yummy looking cakes, and his favourite, muffins and cookies. Ok, the prices weren't the cheapest, but Paul
was used to this, he spent a lot of time on Coffee bars. There was a little queue so he had some time to have a look at the large coffee menu hung up behind the counter. He was pleased to see all the usual suspects were there. There was Espresso, Espresso con Panna, Americano, Cappuccino, Latte, Mocha, Machiatto, Hot Chocolate etc. There were iced versions of most of these, and there were some other iced drinks, a Teazer (a crushed ice coffee drink) and a fruit teazer, made with, surprisingly enough, fruit and a little surprisingly, green tea. The prices were reasonable for a coffee bar, Paul was very pleased. The queue was not very big, but did not seem to be moving very quickly, so Paul took his time choosing what drink he wanted. For his first visit he didn't want to try anything too extravagant, and eventually decided to stick with his old staple, a Cafe Latte. Two sizes were available, Tall and Grande, and Paul decided to stick with a Tall. He waited to be served. And he waited. And he waited. Paul puzzled over what the hold up could be on this beautiful day. He looked behind the counter and saw there were plenty of staff there, in fact there were four people, who looked like they were busy, but didn't seem to be getting much done. But Paul was a patient chap, and he waited for the queue to move so he could order his coffee to satisfy his tingling taste buds. The queue moved slowly, so very slowly but eventually the time came for Paul to order his coffee. "Yes" said the server, rather brusquely in Paul's opinion, but he remained polite, as the server could have been having a bad day. "I'll have a Cafe Latte please" said Paul "What size do you want" snapped the server "Tall please" said Paul, hoping to cheer the server up with his niceness. It didn't seem to be working. The server gave
the order to the Barrista, and Paul waited at the serving table for his coffee. There were quite a few people waiting there for an assortment of drinks. Paul waited quite a while, cheered by all the company he seemed to have while he waited. One by one people got their drinks and departed to tables. They didn't seem to be departing in the order they were in the queue. Peoples drinks seemed to arrive at random, someone getting their drink very quickly, and other people were waiting a long time. Paul noted while he waited that three people who were behind him got their drinks before he did. But Paul remained calm and waited patiently for his drink, which eventually arrived. So off he went to find a table. He was pleased to see the coffee bar was quite large, with lots of seating available. Although the shop was fairly busy, there were still plenty of table available for him. The only problem was they were all covered in empty cups, leftover food and crumbs from an assortment of cakes and cookies. No matter where he looked Paul could not find a clean table, so he went to the least dirty one and cleared himself a space. Paul was pleasantly surprised to find the chair he sat in was very comfortable, not like the plastic seats he sometimes had to sit in, and this calmed him down after the tribulations of getting his drink and finding somewhere to sit. He sat back and watched the world go by for a few minutes (he had already read his paper at another coffee shop!). Lots of people seemed to e coming and going through the shop, people were serving at tables and others were leaving, but throughout the while time he was there Paul did not see anyone leave the comfort of working behind the counter to clear some tables. Even when there was no-one waiting to be served, and the scrum around the serving table had subsided, nobody came out to clear some of the tables and wipe up some of the mess. Very strange thought Paul.
Still, the coffee really was quite good. It was served in a tall Latte style cup, and was warm and creamy, with a lovely froth to the milk and smooth tasting coffee. Very satisfying. At least they know how to make good coffee he thought. So he sat in his comfy chair, drank his rather tasty latte and left. Not being one to hold a grudge, the next time Paul was wondering down the high street, whistling gaily to himself, he decided to give Coffee Republic another go. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! Paul thought he had stepped into a time warp, although this time with less staff who all seemed to have a strange lean caused by the large amounts of chips on their shoulders! The service was as poor as it had been before, and the staff still had not quite mastered the knack of cleaning tables! Still, Paul really wanted his cup of coffee, so patiently waited, and waited and waited and was eventually served. After scraping a space on a table, he drank his admittedly rather tasty cappuccino and left. Now Paul has never been one to learn a lesson very quickly, and has had the black eyes to prove it, so one hot, sunny day he was walking down that very same high street, past that very same coffee shop and decided to give them one last go, after all, things might have changed, you just never know. Hmmmmmmmmmm "I'll have one of your nice looking Teazer iced coffees on this lovely hot day" said Paul "erm, nope," said the server "Why not" asked Paul "We've not got any" said the server "OK, I'll have a fruit Teazer then, something nice and cool on this lovely hot day" said Paul "ermm, nope" said the server "Why not" said Paul again, thinking this was like pulling teeth! "we've sold out of this too" said the rather unhelpful server Oh dear thought Paul,
none of those lovely looking, and heavily promoted on posters, iced drinks, and the fridge was very empty looking too, with not a cold coke or mineral water in sight. Paul was quite despondent, you would have thought, it being summer, the shop would have made sure the freezer was well stocked and there were lots of cooling drinks available. Eventually Paul decided on an iced Latte, although even this took a while as the staff went in search of ice! Good grief he thought. Oh, and he found all the tables were dirty again. Blimey! Still, again the coffee was very tasty, he bought a very yummy chocolate brownie, and despite the mess, the atmosphere in the shop was again very relaxing, and the air-conditioning helped cool him down and keep his temper in check. A lesson had finally been learnt though, and Paul never went to Coffee Republic again. Despite it being one of the few coffee stores with a consistently good cup of coffee, with plenty of flavour and bite, a good range of tasty food and a relaxing atmosphere, the service just wasn?t good enough. Paul was not too depondent though, as over the road he found a branch of Costa with god coffee, helful staff but not quite so comfy seats. Still, you can't have everything. The moral of this story? Well, making a decent cup of coffee just isn't enough. A little more effort goes a long way, and how much effort does it take to be polite and clear a few tables? Too much for some people it would seem. Oh, and he lived happily ever after. THE END
Aha - a rival to match Starbucks and Costa? Yep...beats the former if you ask me, by being a bit less Americanised and generally just more relaxed - what's with all the angry people drinking coffee, seems crazy to me!? CR is sort of Brown inside and out, mocha you might say! The range of drinks is good, with a specific intention to offer a large variety of flavoured shots and also fruit smoothies to make itself more unique in comparison to other coffee chains. The food is of good quality, baguettes and muffins especially tasty, and the coffee I would say is smoother than Starbucks but not as rich as Costa - it's all personal taste of course. CR's seem to be more prominent in regional towns than most coffee chains - a welcome change to the image of London being the only cool place to hang out in. Gets my thumbs up!
Coffee Republic serves consistently good coffee at all their branches (mostly London based). This is one of the main points in their favour - when you're spending £1.50 on a cup of coffee you want it to taste good! The atmosphere is usually really nice especially if you get a comfy armchair. However, this can be difficult as they are often very busy. If you can it's often best to go about 2 or 3 when the lunchtime rush is over. Ocasionally the music can be a bit loud but it seems to be designed so that there are 'quiet spots' as well. The staff are always polite, no matter how busy it is and always ready to help. A small indication of this is in asking for a glass of tap water. Now, some companies, (mentioning no Multinational operations in particular) are a little grudging to give away some of their hard earned water (or that seems to be the culture anyway). Coffee Rep on the other hand seem as if they're trying to make things nicer for you, and not merely act petty. Unfortunately this chain is not as widespread as Starbucks, which is more expensive and has a very aggressive clientele who fight over the chairs! Coffee Rep is far more relaxing and less pretentious (although some of their 'e to flee' terminology can grate). Prices are the same as other London Coffee Houses. With a small cappuccino at about £1.35 a large for £1.60 and a massive one for about £2. The range of food seems fairly limited, but they do offer soup and sandwiches along with lots of excellent warm pastries. They are also the only chain to sell Oreo biscuits (even if they are 50p for 2). Coffee Republic seem to want you to 'customise your cup' with a wide range of syrups, shakes and other enticing concoctions. Whilst this (usually) tastes great they are very expensive. But if you feel the need to treat yourself then a cappuccino with crumbled Oreo cookies at the bottom, topped with whipped cream and marshmallows
is absolutely gorgeous!!! Mmmmmm
This would be the best American import if it wasnt for the fact that the chain had been put into operation by two British-Iranians with the backing of British Money. The idea was coined by Bobby Hashemi and his sister having spent their years at university in the USA. Their first Coffee Bar opened in South Molton Street in the heart of Mayfair. The atmosphere was designed to attract the office workers in that location at breakfast, lunch and after office hours. The neutral interior of the outlets pretty much achieves this spot on. Whilst the menu on offer is enough to provide either a complimentary snack (e.g. cookie or pretzel) to a coffee or other beverage on offer or to provide a hearty mealtime alternative (e.g. Ciabatta). For the more casual coffee drinker the outlets provide a comfortable range of chairs, seats and sofas on which to sit, as well as a good range of daily readers/newspapers. The quality of coffee is good, but you may easily be tempted by other drinks on the menu, such as, the Steamers (steamed milk with added flavor shots), Coolers (same as the steamer but cold), Smoothies (crushed ice and fruit juice) amongst others. Prices are again the same as everywhere else at £1.50 as are the relative prices for food. The quality of the food is also good and the menu is such that it caters for all palettes, including vegetarians. Per se i havent had any bad experience when attending any of the huge number of coffee republic outlets in the UK. Coffee Republic is a great place to go and take a coffee with friend or to meet up with others after separate shopping sprees. As you can tell "I Love CR" For those of you who are non-converts that is what you will find adorning the walls of most if not all CR outlets.