Finding Your Cup of Tea: The Difference Between American and Asian Coffee Shops

By: Sherlyn Ong

The most commonly seen coffee shops in the US are places like Starbucks and Coffee Bean. However, there are also Asian coffee shops like Teapioca, and the experience is very different. Coffee shops are interesting because the experience is not necessarily restricted to only getting a drink; people can also get pastries, sandwiches, and various other selections of foods.

At American coffee shops like Starbucks, you are offered a wide selection of coffees and way you could make the coffee- including things like frappes, cappuccinos, mochas and many others. They are also easily customizable to fit your needs. If you are not a coffee person, you also have the option to get teas, if you so choose. However, the pastries and sandwich departments always seem a little lacking. There are always just a few options and they are often not very good (especially when the company tries to go for an “artisanal” style).

In contrast, Asian coffee shops have a smaller selection of coffees but a large variety of drinks. They do not always offer all variations of coffee, instead they usually only offer a limited selection of options. They also offer tea, but they have more Asian choices like green tea, oolong tea, and herbal teas. Some coffee shops offer a special Asian drink called Bubble Tea (or Boba Tea), which is traditionally ice milk tea with tapioca pearls in the drink, but  nowadays, many shops also offer the tapioca pearls in various drinks other than milk tea, and other additions to go into the drinks like jellies and gels. In Teapioca, they have slushies and juices in the shops. Some places offer Pat-Bingsu, which is Korean shaved ice, as a dessert. Furthermore, some Asian coffee shops double as a mini-bakery. A large selection of cakes and bread are baked, and they may be consumed on the premise or bought to eat at home. An example of a coffee shop/bakery combination in the Austin area is Tous-Les Jours.

Both kinds of coffee shops have their positive points. American coffee shops are definitely more convenient and accessible since they are widely spread out throughout the U.S. They are also more consumer-friendly since they are more customizable as far as accommodations for allergens go. However, Asian coffee shops provide a unique experience, and they have a larger variety of drinks and pastries. In conclusion, people should definitely try each option at least once. While the experiences are very different, by trying both options you can get the best of both worlds.