coffee watch

Coffee Shops

Coffee shops: Coffee shops are taking over the Gurney Plaza al fresco area!  Pie Harbour sadly closed last year – I liked their pies, but rarely ate there.  Because pies go much better with beer, and they didn’t sell beer.

Coffee shops in Gurney Plaza

Coffee shops in Gurney Plaza

Starbucks coffee prices now, post SST

With the introduction of the 6% SST (tax) from September 1st, prices have risen again, almost to the same level as with the GST in the case of coffee and restaurants.

price list


These prices are before SST is added.  And, as I mentioned before, unlisted is the “tall” option, which, at least for Americano coffee, is RM1 less than indicated above. I suppose they have to have this option because some of the flasks they sell can contain only the Tall volume, the others taking the Grande volume.  Presenting a flask grants you a RM2 discount, so long term it pays for itself.  I tend to use the loyalty rewards I collect for times when it is inconvenient to carry the flask – and especially at the airport where prices are much higher than elsewhere.

Starbucks works out pretty economical compared with many coffee houses, and if you ask for less water is often pretty good.

This same blog appears on the site I’m currently setting up –

blatantly bad birds – (Countdown: 3)

park next to Gurney Plaza

On a walk this morning I noticed birds behaving badly – flirting in the park.

birds flirting

Can’t they read the sign?

sign in the park

It seems it’s mating season, and I also notice birds building nests recently.

Doutor Coffee in the Gurney Alfresco area has closed

I’d been meaning to have a coffee there, but it’s already closed.  But another coffee shop will replace it.

Doutor coffee is being replaced with another coffee shop – so there’ll be four coffee shops in a row – Dome, Doutor replacement, SF Coffee and Starbucks. And that’s just on this side!

And it seems there was an altercation with a pole on Gurney Drive.

I suppose this happened last night

Otherwise it’s fairly quiet this week.

Cheapest – and best? – coffee shop in Penang – (Countdown: 4)

One can get a coffee at PBC Coffee in the First Avenue Mall for RM2 – the catch is, you prepare it yourself – including grinding the coffee beans by hand. The first time a staff member will show you the procedure.




coffee grinder


we’ve ground the coffee now – you can filter the coffee or use a French press

carefully pour in boiling water


the coffee – in a ceramic mug – not in those undesirable paper cups

the wall

Grab had a discount the day we went – so catching Grab from home to First Avenue and back cost us RM5 – then RM4 for two coffees. RM9, or about USD2 for a day out.  Not bad.

And as Grab sometimes has special discounts – it cost us RM2 to get to First Avenue from home, and RM3 to get back

Pie Harbour Gurney Plaza – pie in Penang

I first noticed Pie Harbour in Queensbay Mall probably over three years ago.  I enjoyed my pie there.  Then I noticed them in Gurney Paragon, but I don’t actually go there much.  And earlier this year I saw they were coming to the Gurney Plaza alfresco area.  They opened quite a while ago, and I finally got around to eating there on Friday.

I noticed that they were quite busy, and all the outside tables were taken. I sat inside, and soon inside was quite full, too.  The staff were friendly, the food good, but the service slow – possibly because they were so busy. The WiFi was fast.  I was there for breakfast when you are served unlimited amounts of coffee – which was also good.

In the end I didn’t have a pie, but I will be back sometime to have one.  It’s a pity, though, they don’t serve beer.  A beer and pie is really nice.  A few photos…

Pie Harbour, Gurney Plaza

Pie Harbour, Gurney Plaza

lunch menu

lunch menu – er – where are the pies?

I ordered this from the breakfast menu, just before lunch time

I ordered this from the breakfast menu, just before lunch time




Starbucks and WiFi

Up until a few months ago you could go into any Starbucks in Penang, and use the WiFi while you were there.  You had to connect, then open a browser and wait for 20 seconds (why?) and then connect.

So you could connect your phone and also tablet or computer, and even if you are exclusively using the computer, it’s handy to have the phone connected, for example if you want to sync something from or to the phone, like a photo you just took or Evernote etc.

And if there are two of you or more, buying on one receipt it was no problem for both / all of you to connect to the WiFi.

But maybe too many people were taking too much advantage – staying for a long time, making big downloads etc. So they changed it.  Starbucks seems emptier nowadays, but the WiFi doesn’t seem any faster.

Now you get a code on the receipt which is good for two hours and one device.  So if there are two of you, you need to buy separately so you each get a code.  And as you can connect only one device at a time, to sync something you have to log off one device and onto the other using the code, and then log off that device and back onto the other.  All too much trouble.

My wife’s iPad won’t connect, and a couple of other people I asked couldn’t connect their Apple devices. Starbucks staff couldn’t help.

So we use Starbucks a lot less. I would rarely stay longer than two hours, and didn’t make big downloads there anyway.  Sometimes I take my own MiFi device so I supply my own Internet connection.

So I don’t know how this new policy is working out for Starbucks, but it’s not working well for me.


Queensbay Mall foray July 2013 – Melonpan, Habanero, Starbucks,

Today I headed off to the distant shores of Queensbay Mall. Well, it’s not all that far, but my average drive here takes 10 minutes, and to Queensbay it’s 20 minutes in light traffic. So I am not there all that often.

On the food front, I was disappointed today. Thrice.

Firstly, I discovered Melonpan had disappeared. Perhaps they relocated. But their Facebook page seems also to have gone, and I didn’t find them on the Internet.  I liked the occasional melonpan.

Secondly, I thought I would try Habanero’s Estofado Steak.


steak ad prominently displayed on right

The illustration made it look good.


Estofado illustration

But actually, it is strips of steak in a taco, burrito etc. instead of chicken or fish.



Unfortunately it was not really to my taste. They appeared to put only two small strips per taco, but an awful lot of lettuce.  And perhaps my choices of ingredients was poor: no rice, everything else, sour cream, chipolte sauce. But the taste was very lemony, and didn’t go with the sour cream.

I didn’t photograph the menu, but prices seem to have risen since earlier in the year. I’ll check next time, because generally I have enjoyed my meals there.

Oh well, I’ll head down to Starbucks on the ground floor, which was being renovated on my last visit. Hopefully it’s nicer. But no – it is more cramped.

Starbucks is more cramped

Starbucks is more cramped

My favourite spot was under where the big “Starbucks” is. They’ve enclosed it! Before there were armchairs and tables there. I couldn’t really find a comfortable spot.

I had my coffee elsewhere.