Cafe planners: What’s your pick?

Pia Ranada
Planning which planner to get? You’ve come to the right place.

PICK THE PERFECT PLANNER. Cafes give us great options. Photo by Kai Magsanoc

MANILA, Philippines – It’s that time of the year again. 

We’re not talking about Christmas, although that holiday has something to do with it. 

We’re talking about the season of sticker-collecting, non-stop (expensive) coffee-drinking and getting organized for the new year ahead.

It’s none other than “planner season”!

Marked by the clockwork-like release of newly-crafted planners by some of the biggest cafes in the country, Planner Season — no less a consumerist spectacle than Christmas — has coffee-lovers and planners-at-heart reeling with the variety of planners now available to them.

The question is, which one should you get?

Rappler reviews the 2013 planners from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Starbucks and clues you in on each one’s special features, design and compatibility to different lifestyles and personalities.

1) The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf 2013 Giving Journal

  • Dimensions: 18.5 cm x 13 cm (roughly the size of an iPad mini)
  • Cover: Hardbound printed cardboard
  • Comes in: Dark brown or beige with printed “hem” pattern
  • Bookmark: Purple ribbon
  • Advocacy group: Real LIFE Foundation — gives scholarships to underprivileged Filipino youths
  • Mechanics: Complete 12 stamps on the stamp card

The new CBTL planner is a celebration of the coffee store chain’s 50 years in existence globally and 10 years in the Philippines. This is why the main theme of the planner is coffee with beautiful macro-shots of coffee beans, ground coffee in wooden spoons and all textures and color palettes that come with a morning in a coffee shop. 

Its well-designed pages, as relaxing to the eye as coffee is soothing to the weary and stressed, contain a visual history and timeline of CBTL.

Winning feature

As its name suggests, the Giving Journal gives.

Aside from containing a variety of coupons, this planner promotes the “giving attitude” to its owner with such spread-the-love features as:

  • My Giving Game Plan – daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, seasonal
  • Giving Goals – family, environment, community, work, friends
  • Tap a Shoulder Tracker
  • Gift-giving Cheat Sheet – to note what your friends might like as gift 
  • A sign-up sheet to join their volunteer community

Practical features

  • Month grid
  • Spacious day boxes despite small size of planner
  • Vacation planner
  • Emergency contact numbers (police, fire, animal bite center, MMDA, PNP Maynilad Water Service for Metro Manila; smaller list for Cebu, CDO, Subic, Batangas and Davao)
  • 12 pages of notes for free-range doodling and random writing

This planner is perfect for CBTL lovers who would appreciate the history and benefit the most from the coupons.

People who value portability and who don’t like carrying big bags will appreciate its handy size and solid, dependable feel.

More specifically, this is the planner for the person who has “be a kinder, more generous person” in their New Year’s Resolution. 

2) Seattle’s Best Coffee 2013 Dream Journal

  • Dimensions: 22.5 cm x 15.5 cm 
  • Cover: Soft leather with a leather tuck-in clasp
  • Comes in: Purple, yellow, blue, brown and red
  • Bookmark: None
  • Advocacy supported by planner redemptions: World Vision (sends underprivileged children to school)
  • Mechanics: collect 18 stickers on the SBC Dream Card

As its name suggests, the SBC Dream Journal is more journal than planner. Though it features a month grid dividing the entire journal into 12 segments for all the months in a year, the pages in between are more like notebook pages instead of planner pages. 

They aren’t divided into days of the week, meant perhaps to give the owner free-range on how they choose to use the journal.

Would a to-do list be more helpful? Maybe the journal can be a record of thoughts more than of schedules? With this journal, anything goes.

Though the cover options are in bright candy colors, the pages are more simple and straight to the point. 

Winning feature

Planner owners who often find themselves waiting or craving a break from cramming chapters or typing reports will appreciate the little activities the SBC Journal has tucked among its pages.

There are special doodle pages and fun pages that are a joy to accomplish during those dull, in-between moments.

One asks, “What kind of SBC drink are you?” You can accomplish the game with friends, matching them to the drink that best represents their personalities. 

Practical features

  • Monthly grid
  • Coupons (including 24 one-hour Wi-fi stubs)
  • Ring-binder spine that allows pages to be taken out or added

This journal is perfect for people whose days are brightened by happy-colored objects and who want the freedom to organize how they organize.

People more interested in jotting down thoughts, quotes, notes and lists rather than schedules will appreciate the ruled notebook pages.

3) Starbucks 2013 Planner

  • Dimensions: 21.5 cm x 16.5 cm (a bit smaller than a 3rd generation iPad)
  • Cover: Plain leather cover with embossed star pattern
  • Comes in: White, green and black cover
  • Bookmark: Magnetic metal in the shape of a Starbucks cup
  • Advocacy group supported by planner redemptions: SparkHope (provides early childhood care for kids below 6 years old)
  • Mechanics: Collect 17 stickers, 9 of which must be from purchases of Holiday Feature Beverages

Starbucks planners are some of the most in-demand planners ever created. After all, it was Starbucks that started the trend of coffee shop planners and, many claim, still produce the best ones.

Some devout collectors of their planners think this year’s edition is among the better versions. Among its attractions is the ultra-efficient magnetic clasp that automatically clips shut when the cover is closed. Its harmoniously-designed pages are clean and minimalist without appearing plain and boring. 

Winning feature

The commitment of this planner to reusing and recycling is truly commendable.

Its hard leather cover is detachable, allowing the owner to use the inner brown recycled-paper cover for portability.

Even better, this detachability allows the owner to use the leather cover with other notebooks so that even after 2013, the cover need not end in the trash bin (as if anyone would throw away a Starbucks planner, used or not). 

But that’s not all. Owners can also look forward to little hidden goodies in the planner. As you go through its pages, you’ll find a detachable postcard, post-its with proactive messages and more.

Practical features

  • List of Philippine holidays
  • Monthly grid
  • Amply-spaced and ruled daily boxes for easier note-taking
  • Coupons

This planner is perfect for people who love a balance between stream-lined efficiency and random quirkiness. Its spacious, no-frills pages will be useful for workaholics with ever-expanding to-do lists or people who have many activities in a day.

No matter which planner you choose, choose well.

There’s nothing like the perfect planner to start the year right and keep it going as smoothly as it possibly can. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at