What makes Starbucks Langsuan the first of its kind in Asia?

Nico Marco (Contributor) (The Philippine Star) - June 17, 2013 - 1:26pm

BANGKOK, Thailand - Some people who travel a lot would always sample that city’s version of the fried chicken, or burger, or pizza. But then there are some who just has to have their fill of Starbucks as part of their coffee pilgrimage.

But the taste of the coffee aside, there are indeed Starbucks stores that are truly deserving of that must-visit tag. The Starbucks in The Grove by Rockwell, for example, was being heavily promoted recently as an award-winning core design outlet in Asia.

But perhaps the most special current Starbucks store (at least in Asia) can be found in one of the affluent neighborhoods of central Bangkok. Starbucks on Langsuan is the first ever community store in Asia and outside of the United States, and was even inaugurated by no less than the company's head honcho, Howard Schultz, on his visit to Thailand in May 2013.

It is difficult to miss this Starbucks from the outside. Amid imposing office buildings and business hotels lies this almost humble looking structure designed in the traditional style of a Thai home. One of the easiest to notice is its unmistakably Thai roof and gable which might give one the first impression that it was an antique Thai house (if not for that signature Starbucks logo prominently placed on the facade).

The interior space has been modeled to echo the Thai characteristics of warmth and hospitality, especially more evident nowadays in quaint resorts and provincial guesthouses. There are several decorations and framed images that reflect the culture of local hill tribes. The Starbucks Langsuan community store is also in the process of obtaining LEED certification which means adherence to stricter guidelines and building measures for environmental sustainability. 

Since 2002, Starbucks has been sourcing coffee from Thailand and with that has managed to create a signature blend called Muan Jai, a flavor boasting of peppery and bold notes reflective of the outstanding quality of beans grown from Northern Thailand’s hill tribe communities.

A 10 Thai Baht (about 14 Philippine Pesos) contribution from every purchase of a Starbucks handcrafted beverage goes directly to these coffee farming communities. While Thailand is a powerhouse nation in the region, some of its sub-provinces in the north still suffer from poverty and limited access to proper healthcare and education. The funds generated from the Starbucks community store on Langsuan will be used to contribute to the building of more learning and health centers and irrigation projects in these areas.

The choice of location for Asia’s first Starbucks community store is attached with noble business intent. Many of Langsuan neighborhood customers and tourists may have never visited the farming communities of Northern Thailand, and now Starbucks – in its own way – is attempting to bridge this divide by providing patrons an atmospheric experience with the opportunity to do direct-to-grassroots charity.

Even non-Starbucks aficionados now have more than one or two reasons to visit this community store.

The Starbucks Langsuan community store is located at 39/1 Soi Langsuan, Lumpini Patumwan. Nearest BTS (sky train) is Chidlom. Checkout the Philstar.com and Agoda.com site for a list of hotels within the Langsuan area. Best recommendation is Hotel Muse Bangkok, an award-winning heritage design hotel only a few steps away from Starbucks Langsuan. 

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