Monday, September 28, 2009

Review of my first AND LAST trip to Cups & Kilos...

So, the other day, 3ammoBean and I went out to get some awesome materials for new J2Bean. (I have recommendations for those of you looking for Arabic language materials, by the way, maybe I'll review them sometime). He had a hankering for some coffee and wanted to stop by the new Cups & Kilos on Rainbow Street. What a mistake!

Now, I'm a fan of supporting local chains when possible, but when the quality is lower, the service abysmal and the whole experience lackluster... local chain loses every time. In Louisiana before we moved, they had an awesome local chain of coffee shops called CC's owned by Community Coffee. These guys out paced every coffee vendor in Baton Rouge. They beat out Folger's and Maxwell house with their canned offerings, Starbucks and all other coffee shops, and they held contracts with pretty much every single business to supply their break room coffee. They were a local chain that exceeded quality and service found at national chains. Sadly, Cups & Kilos falls far, far short of that mark.

Our experience began on entering the shop. There were two employees wandering about doing nothing discernible other than ignoring us. Honestly, I would have walked out, but 3ammoBean wanted coffee, so I stayed. We waited for at least an entire minute before they could give us any attention. And then it was unclear that when we started to order they were actually listening. The hallmark of lackluster service is inattentiveness to the customer. They finally moved into action making the drinks. They placed the first drink on the counter without any indication of which one it was. We asked and got a reply. They made my hot chocolate (yes MommaBean is all about chocolate in its many forms). Now, for those who don't routinely drink hot chocolate, every place I've had it super-heats the milk to around 150 degrees. So, needless to say the cup is hot.

When they handed over the drink, I asked for a sleeve (or Java jacket or coffee cozy depending on where you're from). They indicated that they were out. So then I asked for a second cup (standard Starbucks procedure for customers who ask when they've run out of sleeves). Apparently, the cups are counted, so that's also not possible. 3ammoBean asked if the customer is simply supposed to burn their hand and the so-helpful barista said, no of course not, but had no solution to offer. When 3ammoBean commented that Starbucks provides second cups on request, the Barista helpfully responded "this isn't Starbucks." No kidding. 3ammoBean responded that that was clearly apparent to us. 3ammoBean asked that the barista complain to management about their ludicrous policy. He assured us that he has, many times. They just don't care. Ahh, I see. Well, from his customer service skills, I'd imagine the management is a bit disinterested.

We finished the conversation with 3ammoBean saying that this would our last visit to any Cups & Kilos location. The barista replied with "But why? I haven't done anything to make you mad." Duh. So, my like of supporting local chains aside, I'll continue going to Starbucks where I can anticipate consistent quality (even if it isn't the greatest hot chocolate in the world (at least it comes with whipped cream)), consistently reasonable service, and a smoke-free environment. Cups & Kilos is definitely a local chain, with all of the issues that implies. Here's hoping their management cares more than their employees think, otherwise, I can't imagine how they'll continue to thrive. Then again, maybe it's only someone with expectations of decent service that will refuse to tolerate such inept treatment. Perhaps they'll continue to do just fine. But, they won't be filling the void of my first circle beverage needs. I'll wait until Starbucks comes down here and drives them out of business, teehee.

Happy First and Last Encounters!


At 9:56 AM , Blogger PALFORCE said...


My review site is in the making, can I email you?


At 10:04 AM , Anonymous Lamia Fakhoury said...

Hello MommaBean, your blog was sent to me by a friend, my name is Lamia Fakhoury and I am one of the owners of Cups & Kilos. Let me start by saying, on behalf of Cups & Kilos staff and owners, we are truly sorry you had such a horrible experience visiting us.
There is no excuse why you needed to wait a WHOLE minute to be served, and there is no excuse why the staff could not tell you quick enough which drink is which, they should have called it out the moment it was placed ready on the counter. This is certainly not because the owners don’t care, rather because it takes time to instill a culture of service. Please note that we are not trying to make excuses, rather explaining a situation that we continuously are working on improving!
The temperature of the hot chocolate btw is 90 degrees not 150 degrees, made as such in order not to get the taste of burnt milk that you may get elsewhere! Further we do not use cream on any of our products, and that is just our recipe, hardly a reason to trash a shop.
It is however, very sad that you would find it acceptable to wish a business that 30 families live off failure! Please do not support local chains if this is your idea of support, we can all do without such intolerance, from what you say, it sounds the employees were trying to be helpful although lacking in success, it seems no matter what they would have said or done, your decision and “negative judgment” was ready made the moment you entered if not before!
We firmly believe the customer is always right, and had you complained 20 times, a 100 times we would have done our best to serve you better, and still invited you to return to accept our apology!

At 2:25 PM , Anonymous Huba said...

" we can all do without such intolerance, from what you say, it sounds the employees were trying to be helpful although lacking in success, it seems no matter what they would have said or done, your decision and “negative judgment” was ready made the moment you entered if not before!"

Okay, so that was not the most "customer-friendly" thing to say!

At 5:42 PM , Blogger NasEr said...

sweet . me like this post regardless of the content . conversation is good.

At 5:46 PM , Blogger asoom said...

I just want to say that CC's is the best and you just made me homesick :(

Man if this Lamia commenter is who she says she is perhaps she could consider taking a crash course in customer service. I would NEVER return to a place where a person of ownership/management responded to my legitimate complaint in that manner.

Once at CCs I was in line and the person in front of me took longer than usual to order so they gave me my latte free of charge and apologized that I had to wait (which really didn't inconvenience at all).

At 11:23 PM , Anonymous Tarek F said...

Come on people, this wasn’t a “legitimate” complaint that CC could’ve just responded to as they would a regular customer; this was an attack, on a very good place I might add. She actually wished for SB to drive them out of business, give me a break CC response was appropriate! I for one love CC, drinks and staff! Besides they did apologize during visit and with their blog response ..

At 2:39 AM , Blogger UmmFarouq said...

Hmm. Tough stuff here. We cannot argue that the levels of customer service in this country are sadly at a level that most Europeans and Americans, as well as other Arab countries' citizens, find grossly lacking. "The customer is always right" policy has not found its way to the marketing world here. I really miss that urge--you know, the urge you have to go hug the grocery store check out clerk because he was so absolutely genuine and polite. (although I resist that urge)

I am with MommaBean in that when we are paying very high prices for "luxury" items like coffees/drinks from establishments like these, we should expect:
1. courtesy in the form of a greeting, and acknowledgment that we are standing at the counter
2. an effort made by the barista/worker to serve what we ordered
3. if our order is incorrect, immediate efforts should be made to fix it, not to joke or make light of our complaints

These things are all easily remedied with a little business know-how. I've worked in the service industry (bakeries, restaurants) too many times to count. I used to grin and bear it, even when I disagreed with the customer.

I have not tried C & K's but I would like to support local businesses. I do not patronize Starbuck's at all, usually choosing Caribou Coffee at Mecca Mall.

And MommaBean, we are about to finish our last bag of New Orleans Community Coffee. :( I brought 5 home this summer.

At 4:46 AM , Blogger kinzi said...

MB, I tried to comment earlier but internet was too slow.

Lamia, I agree with Asoom and Huba. I know it is difficult to hear criticism of your business, which I had recently read about in a local magazine. But this was legitimate criticism. Your employees blew it, and that needs to be owned by ownership, and rectified.

I just don't buy the idea that poor customer service should be a norm for local business, it doesn't say much for this great people. There are many local businesses that exceed imports in customer care.

Stopping after 'truly sorry' would have been most effective, both for the writer and readers. Coupled with an invitation back (in spite of the writer's decision not to return) to experience the very best Cups and Kilos has to offer would have won friends and influenced people.

I haven't been to C & K yet, I frequent Full Cup when out for a coffee. Just a proximity issue.

How about trying again, and let's all give it a go for local coffee reconciliation? I will definitely give C & K a try if you will.

At 5:35 AM , Blogger PALFORCE said...

Well, for all that it's worth, I agree with Kinzi.

Owner should have stopped at Sorry and we want to invite you back.

Here is something business owners can use when reading negative reviews online:

1.Read, take a deep breath, and only answer when your emotions don’t affect the message.

2.Acknowledge up-front that the customer has a point, a simple sorry will do.

3.Provide details that let the customer know you read their review, automated or canned responses to negative reviews are worse than no response at all.

4.Provide details on how you are improving or changing because of their review and what they could expect in the future.

5.Invite them back to your business or to try your services again in the future as you will continue to improve with great feedback.

6.Thank them for their feedback.

7.Provide your full name along with contact information at the bottom of the message to make yourself available.


I should have plenty of reviews, training, manuals... at my new site:



At 6:21 AM , Anonymous Abed Hamdan said...


sorry couldn't help but laugh at the comment made by C & C management...and no need to comment further...with this kind of management, failure is the inevitable destiny for a business run with such management.

1. manners

2. customer services

3. Attitude

oh no, I don't need these...the business owner (who is supporting 30 families) is the one who need. I'm a customer...

enough said.

At 7:18 AM , Blogger asoom said...

I think what UmmFarooq said in the first paragraph really hit the nail on the head. When it comes to customer service Jordan operates on a completely different level of standard.

Ok let's differentiate between C&K and CCs because I got confsued reading some of the comments.

C&K = cups & kilos, local jordanian establishment and the target of mommabean's complaint.

CCs = community coffee which originated in southern louisiana but has made it's way to different locations. It's literally the best! we always take CCs with us when we go to Jordan.

At 8:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

lamia's response is exactly what's wrong with customer service in jordan. it starts at the top.

truth is, there is no culture of service in jordan. sometimes i think it is a result of the culture of shame, where service jobs are considered beneath the dignity of so many.

At 8:33 AM , Blogger UmmFarouq said...

Kinzi, Asoom, PalForce, I'm in agreement with all of you. A simple sorry suffices. No need to shame.

However, since the folks who read our blogs and comments, if tallied up, could add up to some hefty revenues for C & K's establishment. I think that if the owners try to reconcile, the least we can do is to give them a try. Coffee reconciliation...yes!

At 10:29 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

MommanBean, I am sorry that you had to face this kind of treatment in a simple coffee place. It is sad that an establishment such as C&K cannot accept criticism. I agree with the others that it should have stopped at sorry and an invitation back. The tastelessness by Lamia just shows her lack of business tactic and heart. I say this because I worked for an airline that was #1 customer service for many years. We did our damn-dest to make every customer happy. Free tickets were given for apologies (and C&K couldn't give out another cup, ha!!). In the business industry it's a rule of thumb that satisfied and returning customers is what makes a successful business. Once you have one unhappy customer and the issue isn't rectified, you don't just lose one customer you lose many future customers.
C&K is located in an area where there are many tourists and foreigners that would pay good money for good coffee. They also have one in Abdoun. I am sure they don't put these coffee shops there just for looks, they are targeting customers who will pay 2 or 3 jds for a cup of coffee.
Lamia, your true light just shined and shame on you for blaming MommaBean for commenting that C&K will be pushed out of business. If anything YOU will be the one to push C&K out of business if you continue to treat customers in this manner. If you don't teach your workers to treat customers with importance then you will go out of business. I can tell you that by you displeasing MommaBean you have lost many many future customers.
MommaBean, your money can go to another business that deserves your money and my money.
Lamia, I suggest that you read the prior comments and learn from them or get out this business.

At 10:35 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Lamia, welcome to my blog. I am happy to see that you apparently care more than your employees seem to think. That you would come here and apologize is good. That you would then turn around and insult an unsatisfied customer is not. Apparently, you expect in a shop with no customers and two employees, people should wait for more than a minute to be acknowledged. I didn't ask to be served, but a simple, "We'll be right with you" would have been appropriate, no? Given your personal customer service attitude (which unfortunately clearly is not that the customer is right), I understand why the service I received was sub-par. Clearly you are unhappy that I said something about my experience. As a business owner I get that you are emotional about your business. However, as a business owner, I also understand that every complaint from a customer is an opportunity to a) turn around that relationship and b) improve my service or offerings. Your response doesn't particularly seem to warrant either. I would be happy to give you another chance (although I won't pay for that opportunity), when will you next be at the Rainbow Street location?

Also, please reread my post, I did not WISH failure on you. I simply stated that if and when Starbucks opens in the first circle area, their consistent quality and service is likely to close your location. If your staff doesn't improve, it may not even take a Starbucks to manage that.

I'd also like to respond to you comment that "it sounds the employees were trying to be helpful although lacking in success, it seems no matter what they would have said or done, your decision and “negative judgment” was ready made the moment you entered if not before!"

I don't really think someone is trying to be helpful if they have absolutely no solutions to a valid complaint. When I ask for a sleeve and you don't have them and I ask for a second cup and you refuse, where is the helpfulness? In what way did this employee try to be helpful?

Bottom line, I was willing to give Cups and Kilos a shot because I have heard good things about it from friends and acquaintances. When I saw that a location had opened on Rainbow Street, I thought it was a good idea. Unfortunately, my first potential customer-gaining experience was less than lackluster. Your response to my criticism made me more turned off. Going into Cups and Kilos, I had no preconceived notions of what I would encounter, but did have high hopes.

Finally, expressing that a shop that has provided appropriate qulaity and service provides something else I also like on my hot chocolate (whipped cream) is not trashing your business. I could have written a trash post. Instead I reported the service I found at your store. If it offends you, definitely look up PalForce's training. I assure you, it is much worse to hear nothing from an unsatisfied customer who will simply never return than to be given the opportunity to address their concerns. Would you like to try and address my concerns, or are you content to write off everything I said because you know your shop is fabulous? That choice is solidly yours... I can be reached at

At 10:43 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Huba, precisely.

NasEr, indeed, I think conversation is far better than resentful silence myself ;). Regardless of content.

Asoom, like you, I've experienced great service at CC's. I've also experienced okay service. Both I can live with, one pushing me to return and the other not preventing it. Neither was the case and Cups & Kilos.

Tarek, I'm so happy to hear from someone who has apparently had a good experience at Cups and Kilos. However, I guess you'll need to define an "attack" as opposed to a customer complaint. When a customer tells you about their negative experience at a store, is that an attack? Because it's negative? I did not a) wich for Starbucks to put them out of business, but rather expressed it as a liklihood with their service and b) did not receive an apology in the store. Saying I didn't make you mad is not apologizing... But then, perhaps this is again terminology and you consider it to be one?

Umm F, welcome as always and very valid points.

At 10:52 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Kinzi, I would have been responding to comments sooner, but have been experiencing internet woes myself today. Not sure if it was me or the ISP. I'm guessing my laptop sine a restart seems to have finally fixed it. I'm all for a coffee reconciliation, teehee. Great term. I agree that stopping after we're sorry would have made me more likely to try them in the future, while the remainder of the response made me far less.

Khaled, Hear hear. Glad you are taking his sticky subject on...

Abed, indeed.

Anonymous, thanks for dropping in and interesting theory. It IS a challenge that people think service jobs (which are among the very hardest by the way) are beneath them. Hopefully that is changing with more young people getting out in the workforce.

Anonymous 2, thanks for stopping by. In every business, not justa service one reputation counts. And, I agree that every unresolved compaint is likely to lead to an incremental loss of business as very few people keep quiet when they've had a bad experience (obviously I don't, teehee). I also agree that a shop in a foreigner-heavy area needs to be your service flagship to meet the expectations of that clientele. After all, we simply do have expectations of better than abysmal service. Even the standard mediocre service in Jordan requires an excellent product to overcome.

Thanks to all who visited. Personally, as NasEr said, I think that conversation is good. I love sparking a little talk and welcome honest dialog...

At 9:21 PM , Anonymous Anne said...

Lamia, I've been to your shop and had to wait for your employee to finish a personal phone call on the mobile to be served. Typical of the level of service in Jordan, but I'll still never go back.

Stop blaming the customer for your customer service issues and work on improving the quality of service.

At 9:36 PM , Anonymous Lamia said...

Ok…I do agree that I took it as a personal attack and I should not have reacted so strongly, I do apologize for that, I didnt do much better than I expect others to, but I do take Cups & Kilos issues personally!
However, I still take the stand that although customers are always right; this “complaint” was harsh and most disturbing because of the sarcasm undertone… I quote an example” I'll wait until Starbucks comes down here and drives them out of business, teehee.”
Moving on from tone to the issues raised and here is our official response to them:
1- Staff were not welcoming and attentive, we apologize for that, it is not acceptable and again this is an issue we continuously work on and some days we are more successful than others. Service business reality everywhere!
2- Staff did not immediately announce what the drink they placed on the counter was, their reason is that they were only attending to 2 customers at that moments and did not think there would be confusion. Again they will start calling out drinks as they place them from now on!
3- Mamabean felt that the hot chocolate is too hot, and staff did not have a solution for that. As I mentioned before hot chocolate at Cups & Kilos is prepared at 90degress once poured and presented it is already about 80-85 degrees, I am not sure if mamabean felt the cup to be too hot or just assumed it to be. Either way we do not carry sleeves and I am surprised to hear that staff said we ran out, they were wrong to do so! We do not use sleeves or double cups because our hottest drink is the hot chocolate, after that the regular crema at 80 degrees and cappucinos and lattes at 75%, with a double walled solo cup, it’s never too hot to hold, and still some people like to hold it with a napkin and its more than enough. Staff were correct in telling you that they are not allowed to dispense extra cups, and that is our policy. Please take a moment to understand this point. The bottom line is that we run a business and need to control expenses, waste, stock, and staff to make it profitable and insure success. And taking stock of cups is one of the most successful ways to do this! So I am sorry to say, this one I have no solution for at the moment!
Cups & Kilos has been open for business for five years, anyone that runs a business knows that this is not our first nor will it be our last complaint, and normally as many of our repeat customers will tell you, and our business runs at least at 80% repeat business; we are able to handle issues with more grace. I am sure at least in part the language barrier did not help the staff in addressing the issue at hand and created what was perceived as sarcasm to a complaint.
We do also however receive some wonderful feedback on our staff, our shops and our recipes. I am sure you all know that otherwise we could not have survived and even prospered in the face of international competition by many brands in a city as small as Amman. We do care and do our utmost that every person walking into Cups & Kilos leaves with a drink he/she likes at the least and a positive service experience when we succeed! And yes every person matters, but once in a while there comes a potential client, and you know there is nothing you can do to win them over ; especially when you are an employee and pleasing this client will mean breaking company policy and so you try to focus your energy and all the others you are able to successfully serve.
Again I am sorry mamabean that your experience triggered this response that snowballed as it did. I hope at least you were able to taste our not so hot, hot chocolate and enjoy it. If you would like to try again, we would love for it to be our treat. I personally do not keep specific hours rather randomly spend time in all. So best if you let me know when you are able to visit next and I will make sure to meet you there, with an extra cup just in case!
Have a nice evening

At 9:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lamia's comments were very Jekyl & Hyde-ish. It's a shame that she lacks the antidote for her ugly attitude towards MB's concerns regarding C & K's customer service! Shame on you Lamia! I've never been to C & K however it's attitude like hers that turned me off. 7aram!

At 10:32 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...


Thanks for your comment, I'll make arrangements with you off-line. However, just a note about assumptions. The entire conversation was conducted in Arabic by 3ammoBean and your staff member. If there was a language barrier, it was in your staff member's native language...

And although you may not feel that the hot chocolate is too hot to hold, for some it is. Personally, I'm not looking to have my hands over-warmed while I consume a beverage. However, had your employee simply said we intend our drinks to be cool enough without sleeves and don't carry them, at least that would have made more sense than saying that you're out. Perhaps you can think, as mnagement, about a creative solution for the few of us who do prefer to have a hot beverage served with some sort of protection for our hands. If it's only a few of us, surely there must a solution that is reasonable from a cost perspective. After all, I used the multiple napkin approach and was very dissatisfied with it. I didn't even get into the fact that the lid didn't close properly and... My primary issue was one of service.

I'm sorry that you took the comments personally, as clearly we have never met. However, if you read my blog at all, you know that sarcasm softened with a teehee is pretty standard fare for me. My readers certainly know that.

Anon #3, thanks for coming by. Please cut Lamia some slack as a business owner who saw a threat to her baby, I certainly do. That doesn't mean I will ignore bad service, but I do understand where her first post was coming from. Hopefully this post has given her some experience (and from Palforce) excellent tips on how to handle on-line criticism.

At 12:56 AM , Blogger kinzi said...

Lamia, thanks for coming back. Well-handled conflict can produce greater good.

I will make it a point to get to C & K in the near future and enjoy what I have heard so much about.

Happy coffee reconciliation!

At 9:50 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Wow, this was entertaining. Made me chuckle because I have had too many of these issues come up and the customer in Jordan is NEVER right. It will take years and years for this to sink in if ever. Very interesting.

At 2:15 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Nicole, indeed. It is a long process, but I'm committed to continuing to try...

At 7:59 AM , Anonymous 3ammobean said...

This is 3ammobean posting. I wish I had time to respond earlier but with a new born baby and no internet, its hard to do so.

I'm not going to get into an argument with anyone on here. My opinion of customer service in Jordan has been formed a long time ago and I am still waiting for someone, some business to change my opinion.

I will only make a few comments that I would hope could help Lamia improve her business in maintaining and growing her customer base. For now, she has lost me as a customer and it will be a very long time for me to go back to this shop. Here we go with the few pointers:

1) There is no language problem as I am a native Arabic Speaker.

2) If you want your business to succeed and continue to support the 16 families you referred to, you are expect to provide a high level of customer service. After all I also don't find my money on the street. I actually work very hard to make my money and when I spend it I do expect a very high level of customer service. I admit that I am more demanding that your average Joe, however, if you can't tolerate my expectations for excellent customer service, I'll be happy to go to another store.

3) I appreciate your comment regarding the fact that we should not have to wait to be served and to be told which drink is which. Having said that I would hope that you are doing something to improve that. I would suggest lots of training and standarization through out your stores. I expect that you would like to keep your stores open and probably open more stores. Therefore a high level of customer service and consistancy in your service would be needed.

5) Last but not least, I suggest that you take constructive criticism in a positive manner and not look at it as a way of trashing your shop.

Good luck with your local business venture and I hope that other customers will have better experience.


At 1:49 PM , Anonymous Sasha said...

Don't you think you are the most negative expat in Jordan?

At 7:14 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Sasha, ahhh I see. From your perspective blogging about a negative experience I had at a local establishment makes me a "negative expat"? Well, let's see, I love this country and its people. Each Blog About Jordan Day, I make a specific point to blog the amazing things I encounter. Oh, and as a citizen of this fair country, not sure if I qualify as an expat. But, surely you'd know best...

At 11:51 AM , Blogger abu 'n um tulip said...

Wow. Enjoying this discussion. I actually went to C&K on rainbow after you originally posted. I'd heard the coffee was bad, and after your post I was curious. By the way, I have 3 years experience as a coffee barista at a coffee shop in America. I worked at a local shop, not Starbucks. So I'm picky about my coffee. Very. Picky. I surprisingly found the coffee to taste pretty good. Good enough I've had a second cup and it was good as well. I do have to mention the customer service aspect. I came up to the counter (baby in tow) and the employee was chatting with a friend. I asked to be served and he told me to wait. I then asked, "fi khidmi?" "Is there service?" He was then embarrassed and asked his friend to wait so he could serve me. I then received a good drink and was treated well, but only after making it clear I expected to be served. The employee was also kind enough to chase away a bee as I was sitting outside and it was near my baby. So - coffee was good, service- ya3ni. My boss was a stickler with customer service and was able to charge obscene amounts of money for incredible coffee and incredible service. We always re-did any drink a customer was not satisfied with, no matter what the complaint.

A couple other things. Regarding a drink that's too hot. Could the employee perhaps have offered to add some cold milk to cool it down? Personally, I like an extra hot latte, and need a sleeve because I'm often drinking it while pushing a baby in a stroller. I actually carry a sleeve I got a starbucks around in my diaper bag to use at the local coffee shops I prefer. Weird, but I've adapted.

I'm often on Rainbow street, waiting to pick my eldest up from school, and am hopeful C&K becomes a regular place for me. Please, make it happen and you will have a frequent customer!

~ Um Tulip

At 10:52 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Umm T, glad you enjoyed the coffee. And, sorry that your service experience was lacking as well. Apparently this is an on-going problem that Cups and Kilos will definitely need to address. But, it's good that they helped chase away a bee, that would push the service in ya3ani territory for me too. Thanks for letting us know of your experience...


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