Walking into the brand new Starbucks shop in City Center, Nasr City, you may as well be entering the Starbucks branch at Union Square in New York City or at Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles.
This place is not Egypt.
Soothing tunes from the Dave Matthews Band, a popular music group from Seattle where the first Starbucks shop opened in 1971, fill the 2-floor café where the crème de la crème of Cairo sip on caramel lattes and frappucinos while surfing the Internet on the latest version of Apple laptops.
Having attended ‘Barista bootcamps’ for months in preparation of the Grand Opening in Cairo, the service is superb and the drinks are well-made, but expensive.
However, 30 LE for a hot and nice latte and a yummy blueberry muffin seems to be a reasonable price as every table in the place is cram-full with members of high-society of all ages.
“This is a great cafe. The coffee is good, the wireless Internet is working and there is no smoking allowed in here, which is great for non-smokers like me, a 30-year old woman at the table next to me, says.
And yes, the non-smoking rule does make a huge difference. At least for those seeking to enjoy their coffee drink in peace without having to feel like they are at a cigarette factory, which is the scenario at most other coffee shops around Cairo.
Rival American café chain, Coffee Bean in Zamalek, is one of the few that has allocated a part of the shop to non-smokers. Al Hamdulillah.
Those who do wish to smoke with their coffee at Starbucks can do so at the outside terrace upstairs.
In addition to the variety of exotic coffee drinks offered, such as flavored lattes and cappuccinos, iced frappucinos, Starbucks features a wide selection of pastries, sandwiches, and salads.
For LE 14, you can enjoy a Salade Nicoise or a Greek Salad (with a generous amount of feta cheese). The pastries, which include croissants, cakes, muffins, and biscuits are rather expensive, but both the cheese croissant and chocolate chip muffin are to die for at around LE 15.
For non-coffee drinkers, there are several types of teas and juices available. The mango juice is fine, but you will have a better one at any of the local Egyptian coffee shops.
Starbucks is a great venue to meet up with friends, do work, check out good-looking people, or even conduct an informal business meeting. If you live close to Nasr City.
Living elsewhere, you end up paying more for the taxi fare than the actual coffee. So, until Starbucks opens another branch closer to downtown, I will be sipping on my latte in another location.