The staff at Starbucks, Bristol Temple Meads, are the friendliest that I have encountered so I was a little surprised not to be greeted with a smile yesterday. Turns out that the soy milk delivery was late so they couldn’t serve me.
Instead, I found myself heading to Caffe Gusto to buy a coffee before the morning train. I had just missed mine by about a minute so I wasn’t in much of a rush. The Gusto branch, which is one of many that surround and inundate the city centre (four more outlets than Starbucks), is found at the very front of the road that leads to the train station. Next to it is the Passenger Shed and a nursery.
I walk in and there’s a soft orange light that fills the cavernous interior leading to the counter. To my right are the tables and chairs for the customers. The light is more natural and it’s very quiet with a couple of occupied tables. Free wi-fi is advertised by the door.
A latte costs £2.15 for a single shot and £2.45 for a double. Soy milk is available for an additional 30p as is flavoured syrup. My decaf, vanilla, double shot latte costs me £3.05. At Starbucks the extra shot, syrup and soy milk are free for Starbucks card holders and if I reuse a tray there is a discount of 25p. Gusto so far cost me £1.20 more. I also order a muffin and an apple as substitute for the porridge I would have had from the other coffee retailer.
The soy milk at Starbucks is Alpro which is the nicest I’ve tasted by far. Their vanilla flavoured one with cinnamon on top was my favourite drink at Dashi before they shut down in January. I don’t know what they use at Gusto but it tastes akin to what skim milk tastes to people who don’t drink it,
shit, watery, unpleasant and much like dish water. When you’re drinking decaf, as I am, there isn’t even the compensation of the caffeine hit.
I am not saying that Starbucks has amazing coffee which I choose for its flavour. The soy latte is sweet, milky (to an extent), and comforting. The extras are all free and I can ask for it the way I want it, ‘extra wet’ which means no foam. It’s also cheaper.
The muffin was the best part of yesterday’s breakfast and I wonder if they make their own. The whole purchase cost £5.60 and I am not too keen on going back.
This morning I caught the 7am train and I went by Starbucks for porridge and coffee. They apologised for yesterday’s lack of ingredients and didn’t charge me. The latte is comforting and the porridge is served with dried fruit and tastes great.
For me, Starbucks wins hands down and the service at Bristol Temple Meads is exceptional.
Caffe Gusto, British Empire & Commonwealth Museum, Clock Tower Yard, Temple Meads, Bristol, BS1 6QH
Starbucks, Temple Quay, 1 Temple Square, Unit A, Restaurant/Bar Cafe 2, Bristol, Bristol, City of BS1 6EB