coffee watch

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.

On Starbucks in Penang, 2013 – mid-March update

2013-02-26 17.50.39s

Starbucks, Straits Quays – but on a rather overcast day

Having bought a Starbucks card and a tumbler, now I tend to drink coffee there, as it works out cheaper for me.  Using a tumbler gives a RM2 discount, (is more environmentally friendly than paper cups), and every 10 cups you buy entitles you to a free cup.  If you buy two tumblers, buy one Venti size coffee (the largest) every time, and share with your wife with half the Venti in each tumbler, after you have amortised the quite high cost of the coffee tumblers – being 15 cups for Americano, then the coffee price is only slightly higher than a cup at Mc Donalds. I can’t take credit for this idea, but it works. Doesn’t work if you’re by yourself, though.  I guess it works out well for Starbucks too, as I used to take it in turns going to different coffee shops, and now they get my business.

I have been to perhaps half of the Starbucks on the island: Straits Quays, Gurney Plaza, Gurney Tower (near Gurney Hotel), First Avenue, E-Gate, Queensbay Mall and Penang Airport.  I tried to have a coffee at the new drive through Tanjong Tokong Starbucks, but there are very few parking places, and all were taken, so I gave up. The coffee is pretty standard at Starbucks, and the staff vary a lot, so the atmosphere and the speed of the Wi-Fi are how I would judge them.

So, my favourite turns out to be Straits Quays, as it has a nice view of the ocean, and the Wi-Fi speed is quite good.  Gurney Plaza is closest to my home, and thus I frequent it more, and if you sit outside it has a nice view, but the Wi-Fi  speed is quite patchy.  But some of the staff now remember me, as I am often there, so that’s nice. The others are all OK, but the atmosphere doesn’t match the aforementioned.


Although… I have been to E-Gate a couple of times recently, and the Starbucks there has a nice open aspect, with two glass walls facing outside, and at present, a view of the ocean.

2013-03-04 13.00.14s

view from Starbucks, E-Gate, towards the sea.

Now, in mid-March, I was told in Starbucks, Straits Quays, that they will no longer pour half a drink each into two tumblers.  And I am only one coffee away from breaking even on my tumbler purchase!  But it’s a bit silly, really, as it is easy to work around this – and the easiest work around decreases Starbucks’ income.

The next morning, in my usual spot in Starbucks Gurney Plaza, there was no problem with my usual procedure.  Hooray, I have broken even with my tumbler purchases!! Perhaps the silliness is restricted to the Straits Quays franchise. So, later I was at Straits Quays for lunch, and I didn’t stop by after lunch to Starbucks there for a coffee.