Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf // Down With Us

cbtl Coffee Bean is a favorite brand of mine. They're also a client.

The reason I like the brand so much is not because they're a client, although that doesn't hurt. For me it starts with the tea. I'm huge tea drinker. If you ever come over, I'll most likely offer any of over a dozen tea selections I keep on hand, and there's usually hot water at the ready for my next pot.

Coffee Bean doesn't sell my favorite teas in the world, but those are generally not available at retail, and when they are it's some obscure mom & pop shop that's often not on the route. For a chain, Coffee Bean's tea is very good. And it's way better than Starbucks tea. Put it this way, when I travel outside of Southern California, I generally carry my own tea bags because drinking Tazo is not my idea of a good time.

But today I'm at Starbucks as I write this. Why? Because it's right next door to my next meeting, same way it's right next door to almost every meeting.

Sitting here reminds me of another important reason I like CBTL and do not like Starbucks. It took me six minutes to get online. Somehow, I can't remember my AT&T username and seem to have forgotten my T-Mobile password. After trying a bunch of combos, I just signed up for a new account, undoubtedly my 4th or 5th.

wifijpgMeanwhile, Coffee Bean has free Wi-Fi. The catch: You have to walk over to the plasma screen and read the unique code to enter on the homepage. Takes about 30 seconds tops.

I don't mind paying the six bucks for the privilege of writing to you people from anywhere I want, but I deeply resent the six minutes it took, along with the multiple reminders that I'm not smart enough to remember my account info.

We all know Wi-Fi is cheap, or at least I assume it is. For Starbucks to inconvenience its customers in order to turn that into a profit center is just stingy. By giving it away for free, and in the process saving us time and headaches, Coffee Bean demonstrates a respect for and value of its customers that is worth way more than six bucks a day.