The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is a bit of an institution and as with most coffee franchises, people are irrationally passionate about it. Rest easy ye CBTL fans, this review concerns the management (assuming that they are responsible for the overall maintenance of the place) and not the quality of their beverages (although let’s face it, we’re being ripped off).
At the outset I’d like to state that the CBTL serving staff are consistently excellent and friendly. CBTL is walking distance from school so I’ve been a regular customer since they first opened, but its sad to see how poorly it is maintained – however, peeling paint and chairs with split seats are the least of their problems.
From May 2013 onwards I’ve dropped in several times hoping things would improve. A couple of air conditioners upstairs are eternally out of order (rendering the place stiflingly hot), despite several customers asking the helpless baristas to switch on the ACs. On my most recent visit, the floors remained unclean from 9am to 1pm, although I suspect this is more of an understaffing problem because the staff were doing the best they could. It is unacceptable for a place which charges upwards of Rs. 500 for a cup of coffee to fail to maintain air conditioning and basic hygiene.
I spoke to a few other customers and they agree – right now the only thing they have going for them is their polite and friendly serving staff.
In more pestilent news, I wouldn’t go as far as calling it an infestation but from seeing three boxes of rat poison placed upstairs, the inference to be gained is that there is a rat problem. I understand that CBTL is attempting to rid themselves of pests but there has got to be a better way than leaving loose poison bait (little green grains) lying around.
Obviously no food establishment is going to advertise that they have rats (I’ve seen Ratatouille, I know the deal), but leaving rat poison out is unsanitary and possibly dangerous. One box was hidden (only visible once I moved my chair nearer to one of the air conditioners that actually work) but the other two were easily accessible. I have noticed that CBTL is frequented by whole families on weekends, and you know how children are – these brightly coloured grains are pretty much beckoning young kids to sample them.
The specific rat poison used is Rentokil, it is an anticoagulant – one of the safety instructions is not to leave it anywhere where food could be contaminated (the other instruction is to keep it away from children and pets). Maybe I’m just being paranoid but the poison isn’t placed that far from the table where customers consume their food. But it can’t be paranoia because I’m sure the skull sign on the box doesn’t indicate endorsement by a swashbuckling pirate, but rather that it is lethal if its contents are ingested.
If you simply have to get your coffee fix from CBTL, I suggest you take it to go instead of enduring a sweltering poorly ventilated dining experience. CBTL has (for now) long lost its lustre circa 2007/8 and there are better places for coffee, wifi and to catch up with friends – Sugar Bistro and Wine Bar, Java Lounge, Cup Cafe, Barista Lavazza etc.