Comparing Starbucks, Cilantro and Costa

If you are a service provider all you care about is the quality of your service. If you are a coffee shop for example all you care about should be your quality of service. I thought of comparing three of the well known coffee shops here in Egypt regarding the quality of service: Costa, Cilantro and Starbucks.


I will focus on the following points regarding the quality of service in my comparison:

  1. Cleanliness of the place.
  2. How friendly, prompt and professional the waiters are.
  3. Quality of food and drinks.
  4. Speed of service.
  5. Quality & usability of the take away utensils.
  6. Their working hours.
  7. Environment.
  8. Cost

Let us take the above points one by one:

  1. Cleanliness of the place.
    • I think all are very good in that regards.
  2. How friendly, prompt and professional the waiters are.
    • Cilantro would rate the highest in this regards. They are always smiling and friendly and they execute your special requests promptly. What is more important also is that they listen! They let you finish what you are saying and then comment if any.
    • After Cilantro comes Starbucks, they are not friendly at all. Most of the time you can not figure out what they are saying, they never smile and they would not care if they spilled your drink, they will give you the mug dripping!! (it happened to me). They also do not listen. Once I asked them to heat my cheese croissant an extra amount of time than they usually do. After he did heat it, I asked: “did you heat it extra?” I got a weird answer, “It is ready”, the waiter said!!… This meant only one thing to me; it is as if he told me “shut-up”. But they are fast. They will not make you wait forever for your order.
    • The last is Costa, most of the time waiters are not concentrating, they are very slow and they forget what you ordered sometimes. In many cases you have to check on your order several times until you get it. Once I asked for a hot egg sandwich, I got it cold! So I told the waiter it is cold. The first answer was, “no it is heated” ….frustrating!!
  3. Quality of food and drinks
    • Starbucks is the best when it comes to quality of drinks. I have not tried their food though so I can not judge (except for the cheese croissant and it is delicious). In Cappuccino for example, Starbucks is the only one who gets right. The right amount and flavor of coffee with the right amount of milk. I never get it too strong and never too much milk.
    • Costa comes second in the quality of drinks (but food wise Cilantro is better).
    • Cilantro comes third in the quality of drinks (but in food Quality rates higher than Costa). Cilantro’s coffee is too strong; maybe they are rare on milk. I do not know but I stopped drinking coffee at Cilantro. But they have nice varieties of food, whether desserts or breakfast and lunch foods. And they do something very annoying if you ask for a delivery; they only fill half the cup!! But you pay for a full cup.
  4. Speed of service.
    (I am not comparing in peak times. The comparison is based on the time when they have a reasonable amount of customers)

    • Starbucks. When I go there whether to stay or take away I do not feel that I waited at all for my order. I just order, pay, pick-up and go.
    • Cilantro. Here I feel that I waited sometime especially if I am staying. Not an annoying interval of time but I feel it.
    • Costa. I can take a nap until I get what I ordered!!
  5. Quality & usability of the take away utensils
    • When I order take away drinks from Starbucks I know I am safe. The cup is holding itself well. It is not easily twisted; its lid is well closed. I know I will not spill on myself if I am in a moving car or walking on foot. They also provide the hard-cardboard cover to protect your hands from the hot drink automatically without you having to ask for it.
    • Cilantro rates second. The quality of the cup is less than Starbucks’s (it is not as hard) and the lid is not as tight. But they did something new and nice, you can lock and un-lock the lid. I do not think they have the hard-cardboard cover. Actually I do not know as they never gave it to me.
    • Costa is a disaster in this respect. The cups get twisted and squeezed very easily and lid flies away and you suddenly find the very hot drink all over your clothes. And again they do not give you the hard-cardboard.
  6. Working hours.
    • Starbucks is the smartest; they open 6:00a.m. So they get most of the customers who need an early breakfast before they go to work.
    • Costa opens early as well but they provide only one waiter who is trying to wake up most of the time so the service is very slow.
    • Cilantro is not intelligent in that matter. They do not open before 8:30a.m. or 9:00 sometimes (Abbas el Akkad branch). So they miss all the possible customers who could pass by before going to work.
  7. Environment:
    • Starbucks again is the best because it is a smoke-free place. Smoking is completely prohibited in Starbucks which shows that they care for your health as their customer. It is also wise because it will make you able to stay longer to finish some work or chat with your friends and in either case you might order more than once.
    • Cilantro and Costa are the same in that matter, it is very difficult to sit and enjoy your drink. Although there is a section for smokers and a section for non-smokers, but the two sections are right beside each other and you will suffer from the smoke and want to leave quickly.
  8. Cost:
    • Costa and Cilantro are nearly close in that matter and relatively ok (could be cheaper of course)
    • Starbucks is very expensive.

Very small issues matter when it comes to customer service. Here in Egypt we are very weak in that matter. I am sure chains like Starbucks and Costa outside Egypt will never serve the way they do here because they will have strong management watching their backs. We need the firm manager who would not settle for less than perfect when comes to serving customers. Especially when you have lots of competitors, you have to excel to attract more customers.

How about you give me your opinion? Answer the survey below to compare the three coffee shops. I will give the survey one week and then I will publish the result to see how most of us rate those coffee shops.


9 thoughts on “Comparing Starbucks, Cilantro and Costa

  1. i disagree with the quality of drinks thing
    Cilantro’s hot thick choclate with hazelnuts bits rock my world

    ALSO the fresh juices in cilantro is excellent

    and do not get me started on the marble cheese cake 😀

  2. I would have to drastically disagree with you (taken into consideration I didn’t go to starbucks ever, but as a general)
    1) Waiters professionality
    Generally: Not a single place I have gone to in Egypt where waiters are trained not to say the famous “mayenfa3sh” statement. Wherever I go I get the mayenfa3sh if I try to change anything about the order.
    To be sepecific:
    -Cilantro ARE HORRIBLE the least to say they don’t have a kitchen on the site and they get too few items, I can saftelly say I have NEVER been to Cilantro and my first order was there. I always order something that is NOT there and then I have to change. No matter what the time is, early morning, afternoon or evening. It is always not there. Last time my first 3 orders were NOT there and at the end I told the waiter am I supposed to eat what is available or what I like (after he suggested that they have other things that I can order other than the 3 that I wanted)
    -Costa: terrible experiences with the way they treat their customers, impolite and making sure that you understand that there is a min charge so your order is too few for them to accept, and almost asking you how long will you stay because they need the table and chairs for others!!

    2) Environment
    All of them suck, they are all WAY TOO LOUD for you to sit and enjoy a cup of tea or coffea, loud music on and everythign is LOUD

    3) Cost
    You must be kidding if you say Cilantro is reasonable. When have u gone last?? Cilantro is WAY over prices. A donut (which by the way he buys off house of donut who sell it for something in the range of 4-5 pounds, costs above 10 I think or something like that) All items are severly overprices. I walk in for a small tiny sandwich (that a kid won’t eat) a tea and maybe something sweet after it like a cake slice, I end up paying something in the range of 70 pounds. All menu items are WAY WAY over priced.

    4) Speed of service
    No big difference both are slow given the fact that they DO NOT PREPARE ANYTHING, they just heat something or serve a cake on a plate, they are terribly slow.

    5) Quality of food
    Acceptable is the only word I can find, because good is too much for them. Have you tired the chocolate cake at Cilantro, just a wierd plastic thing, has nothing to do with “cake” or “chocolate”

    sorry for diagreeing but I do agree with “Mostafa” who made the previous comment, “Home mad food’ is by far THE BEST

  3. All being said about Costa is soooooooooooo true. My best friend and I eventually decided to stop going there after finishing our outing… without the order ever coming.

  4. Yes I agree with May.
    I used to go to Cilantro Mohandessin and this is a common conversation:

    Me: I will order chicken soup
    Waiter: sorry sir, we do not serve chicken soup today.
    Me: Ok, what is the soup of the day?
    Waiter: Vegetables soup
    Me: Ok I will have it
    Waiter: Ok sir
    — after 2 minutes —
    Waiter: I’m sorry sir, we ran out of the soup
    Me: !!

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