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Drinks Sydney Quays Sheds Light On Starbucks Malaysia's Watershed Moments

Sydney Quays Sheds Light On Starbucks Malaysia's Watershed Moments

Sydney Quays Sheds Light On Starbucks Malaysia's Watershed Moments
By Samantha Lim
By Samantha Lim
October 22, 2019
Named for a key character in Herman Melville's nautical masterpiece Moby-Dick, Starbucks cast off from Seattle and arrived in Southeast Asia more than 20 years ago. Sydney Quays (pronounced 'keys'), CEO of Starbucks Malaysia & Brunei, proudly reflects on his division's achievements in the past 2 decades

How much leeway or wiggle room does Starbucks Malaysia have when it comes to localisation? The Asian Dolce Latte is a nice example.

All our food is developed locally, with certain items catering to the local palate, such as the Tandoori Flat Bread and Nangka Pandan Cake, which have turned out to be some of our fastest moving products.
As for our beverages, some of the core menu items that you see—such as our espresso-based beverages—are items we can’t move away from, as they form the foundation of Starbucks. There are also cult beverages like the Pumpkin Spice Latte and Peppermint Mocha.
At the end of the day, we are all about our ingredients and innovative beverage technology. Starbucks is also iconic for offering customisation, which covers dairy alternatives, syrups, toppings, et cetera. Your beverage can be served hot, iced, carbonated, blended (Frappuccino) or as a cold brew.

Tell us more about the company’s initiative with the hard-of-hearing (HoH). Is the Bangsar Village branch still staffed with ASL-trained employees?

The Starbucks branch in Bangsar Village is, in fact, the world’s first Starbucks Signing Store. Its success here has led to the US and China replicating the concept, and further empowering deaf communities around the world.

Our HoH partners are trained in Malaysian Sign Language, which the non-deaf team also has to learn—we're constantly thinking of new ways to help the former feel more integrated in our operations.
While these Starbucks Signing stores provide employment and development opportunities for the deaf, they are also hubs for raising awareness and improving accessibility. We provide complimentary workshops at our stores, including sign language classes for the public, professional and development talks by the deaf community, as well as empowerment and awareness workshops for deaf youths.

Kudos to Starbucks Malaysia for offering an RM2 discount to whoever supplies his or her own Starbucks flask.

Thanks! Speaking of firsts, we were also the first coffee chain in our nation to introduce the ‘bring your own tumbler' programme.

Did you know it is free to request used coffee grounds at any of our stores? Customers can take them home for gardening or composting.

Since 2018, we switched all our single-use straws to biodegradable plastic. We also offer reusable straws for as low as RM1 each, and will continue to provide more plastic alternatives whenever possible.
Last year saw the launch of our Green Outreach Program with EcoKnights. Proceeds from our reusable cups were directed towards building edible gardens for at-risk communities and funding complimentary green workshops (on DIY soaps, composting, gardening, and more).
This year we collaborated with YWCA to repurpose our coffee bean sacks by turning them into purses and pouches. We are currently collecting more used sacks from our stores and sending them to YWCA’s vocational training school, where women in the B40 community can match them with excess cloth before sewing them into bags. We hope to start retailing these bags from next year onwards, and to channel the proceeds back to YWCA and the B40 women.

The seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte as a Frappuccino and a hot latte.
The seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte as a Frappuccino and a hot latte.

Baristas form the face of Starbucks, but can you give a shout out to other significant personnel?

Not many are aware of what goes on at the Starbucks Support Center, which is what we call our corporate office. Everything we do there serves to support our retail store partners and to leave a positive impact on local communities. We at Starbucks Malaysia, as well as our parent company Berjaya Food Berhad, strongly advocate equal opportunities. More than 50% of our senior leadership team and key decision makers are women.

Lastly, what is your favourite drink, dessert or dish to order at Starbucks Malaysia?

I have always enjoyed a simple Americano, but since we introduced almond milk last year, a combination of the two has become my go-to beverage.

  • Photography Khairul Imran


Drinks Sydney Quays Starbucks Malaysia coffee


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