- Godiva wants to become the Starbucks of chocolate. It recently announced plans to open 2,000 cafes over the next six years.
- I recently visited the first-ever Godiva Café in New York to see what it was like.
- While Godiva’s café concept has novelty appeal, it has a lot of room for improvement.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Godiva has big plans to grow beyond its chocolate gift shops.
It announced in April its intentions to open thousands of sit-down cafés around the world, offering gourmet coffee drinks, pastries, and confections. Some will be transformed from existing store locations, while others will be standalone stores. The cafés will still sell premade and custom chocolate gift boxes, but they will focus on new signature menu items including Belgian waffles and a new creation called the “croiffle,” a hybrid between a croissant and a waffle.
Godiva opened a café in Midtown Manhattan in April, the first of 2,000 cafés it plans to open over the next six years. Spearheaded by a former Starbucks executive, this ambitious growth plan relies on the viability of Godiva’s cafe product, which we decided to investigate on Monday. Here’s what it was like:
The Godiva café has a sleek storefront in a Midtown Manhattan office building. There are a lot of signs, which feels like branding overkill — but at least you know you’re in the right place.
The seating area is brightly lit and welcoming, with plenty of power outlets. Its design invites customers to spend more time in the café. There is also a large wall of chocolate gift boxes in classic Godiva fashion.
The counter looks like a chocolatier version of a Starbucks counter.
There are already two signature items on the menu. There are also three Italian-named coffee drinks, which feels like something of an identity crisis for the Belgian-founded, Turkish-owned brand. Am I supposed to know what a doppio is? I just went with the Signature Godiva Mocha.
I partially came here for the croiffles, as did many of the other customers before me. Godiva’s attempt at a cronut-like novelty confection is a hybrid between a waffle and a croissant and will cost you over $US6 including tax. I ordered a dark chocolate one.
A month into its opening, the café was mostly empty, with most customers choosing to take their orders to-go.
It’s a café, but you can also buy chocolate. If you haven’t had enough chocolate after your chocolatey coffee drink and your chocolate pastry, then Godiva’s got you covered.
Is it a café? Is it a chocolate shop? Why not both?
These truffles actually looked really good, but I’d just ordered a dark chocolate croiffle and I didn’t feel the need to cram even more sugar into my system.
I was stunned that there was no tipping option at check-out. When I asked the employees how to tip them, they told me that corporate doesn’t allow them to accept tips.
This tea display set expectations that my drink would be served in a fancy cup. Unfortunately, those expectations were not met.
This lacklustre condiments and disposable utensils table was a harbinger of things to come.
I was surprised and disappointed when my $US6 croiffle came neck-deep in a paper cone. I also had to remind the employees that I’d ordered a croiffle after 10 minutes of standing around waiting in a mostly empty café. It came out of a plastic bag pre-waffled and spent a hot second in an industrial toaster before being tucked into a paper cone that looked more appropriate for a Coney Island confection stand than a gourmet chocolate café.
The mocha, too, came in a paper container. It was enjoyable, but nothing to ‘gram about. I couldn’t believe that this cost $US12, even in New York. The packaging felt cheap, and while the actual products were fine, they weren’t what I’d expected for that price point.
The croiffle tasted like a flattened pain au chocolat — with extra chocolat. It was very sweet, slightly flaky, and a little confusing. A waffle’s strengths are its crunchy-soft texture and its topping retention, while a good croissant should be airy, fluffy, and flaky. The croiffle felt like an unnecessary chimera of the two.
It somehow managed to discard the best qualities of both to form a novelty pastry that was good, but not worth the $US6 I paid for it. Again. I didn’t even get a real plate.
I also wanted a real cup for my mocha, especially because I specified that I’d be staying. At least the drink itself tasted good — not too sweet, and the chocolate complemented the coffee.
Despite its proliferation of electric outlets, Godiva’s café fails to deliver the reliable quality, value, and cosy comfort that made Starbucks the gold standard of coffeeshops. Its price point is prohibitive to the typical coffee shop crowd, while its product hardly justifies its gourmet price tag.
Godiva should firmly commit in one direction – either its cafés need to be affordable and casual enough to give potential customers a reason to choose it over Starbucks, or it needs to deliver on the promise of luxury that its prices and branding suggest.
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