What’s So Special about Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf?

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
Recently Los Angeles’ Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf opened their first New York location in Times Square (natch). I’ve never been to a CBTL but it seems like every few weeks Us Weekly photographs some otherwise malnourished celeb clutching on of their large frozen beverages. Being a coffee addict, I decided to check it out.

Inside Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
I got a regular (medium) latte with an extra shot since the barista told me that their medium drinks only come with one shot (the ‘Bux does two for a similarly sized drink). It was a fine latte, not too bitter, not too watery, but it was expensive–$3.95 for the base drink plus 75 cents for the extra shot. That’s more expensive than Starbucks and what’s more I can get a two shot latte with organic milk and fair trade coffee for just over $3 from Pret.

Doughnut from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
While I was there I nabbed one of their signature doughnuts ($3.25) and enormous chocolate frosted square yeast doughnut that was filled with both vanilla and chocolate pudding.

Inside doughnut from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
Again the doughnut was fine, the little touch of orange extract was and unexpected but pleasant surprise, but the doughnut itself was a bit dry and dense and the pudding was in the Jell-o instant realm, fine if you love the Boston Cremes from Dunkin, but not what I was expecting for over $3. I don’t think Mark Israel from Doughnut Plant is losing any sleep over these guys.

While this was a fairly lackluster visit, I know that CBTL has its loyal adherents. What am I missing here?

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, 1412 Broadway at 39th St, (212) 575-3854


  • I am with you Brownie.
    I don’t get it either.

    I checked them out a while ago, hearing all the hoopla..and was completely unimpressed.
    Expensive, unnoteworthy coffee. Yawn.

  • As someone who drinks their coffee black (which means I just lost 99% of New Yorkers) I simply prefer the taste of their coffee. Their plain coffee is pretty much the same price as Starbucks. Not sure there’s much to get.

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    The best thing about CBTL is the ice blended mocha. So, so, so much better than a frappucino. Not even in the same category. Not even close. I like mine “extreme” — with more coffee flavor. It’s like a mocha milkshake without ice cream.

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