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Do You Still Remember The First Starbucks In The Philippines?

The Philippines was only its third international market when Starbucks set up shop here 20 years ago
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There was a time when we didn't care too much about coffee. Every morning, it didn't matter that we spooned it out from a foil packet, dissolved it with piping hot water from a thermos, and diluted the bitter taste with spoonfuls of brown sugar and milk. We greedily gulped it from old Ludy’s jars because it was "just coffee." It was just a means to erase the night away and start the day anew.

Until that fateful day in December 1997. On December 4, 20 years ago, the Rustan’s Corporation introduced Filipinos to Starbucks, then only a small coffee giant from Seattle. From its first location at 6750, it quickly became clear that wasn’t quite enough to be drinking powder from old peanut-butter jars. Suddenly, it was okay to pay hundreds of pesos for caffeine. Coffee was something you experience not get over with and you’re willing to invest in every drop of that experience. Starbucks was both a means to survive and a status symbol.

Though only at its third international location at that time, Starbucks was already paving way for a new kind of coffee culture. Coffee snobs may turn up their noses what, with their craft and third wave and newfangled caffeine confections (which Starbucks also took part of with their Reserve brand), but it’s difficult to deny that the coffee chain helped us take a big step in how we appreciate good coffee today.

Today, Starbucks Philippines has over 300 branches with more than 4,000 employees. Manila was only its third international market when it opened in the Philippines. It opened in the United Kingdom a year later then China in 1999.

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The Starbucks Kape Vinta Blend was made especially for the opening of Starbucks 6750. It’s a combination of coffees from the Asia Pacific region, including the Philippines. It was reintroduced in 2016 as an Independence Day special.

For its 20th anniversary, Starbucks Philippines is launching limited-edition mugs featuring designs inspired by local textiles and studded with Swarovski crystals. The first branch at 6750 will also be featuring special anniversary installations and live performances today, December 1.

This story originally appeared on
*Minor edits have been made by the editors.


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