Open a café, dole out java in Coffee Bar

Nowadays, it seems you can hardly walk a block without bumping into some kind of coffee shop or café. Hard to imagine a time when folks clocked into work without their venti mocha frappuccinos (skim, no whip), isn’t it? Or when ushering in fall didn’t mean pumpkin spice latte binges? The Starbucks Age has even begun to infiltrate video games, and with the upcoming Coffee Bar, gaming coffee hounds need look no further than Facebook.

This sim transforms you into a barista and small business owner who must operate a successful coffee shop and its burgeoning clientele. It’s a rich, smooth blend of strategic management and creative customization. You start out with three coffee machines that allow you to brew drinks of varying costs and sale prices. Some also take longer to cook than others: a batch of your standard black coffee takes a mere three minutes, but yields a skimpy profit. Iced mochas, meanwhile, take half a day in real time to brew, and bring in big money. It looks like you’ll unlock new, more exotic menu items as you gain experience.

Coffee Bar

To help you out, you can hire two “temp workers” who serve your creations to patrons. (Yup, this place has servers—this ain’t no gas station self-serve you’re running, here.) You’ll have to pay the temps, though, but your Facebook friends can work for free if you invite them. You’ll also want to buy more serving counters and coffee machines, as well as additional seating, to serve the growing number of people quickly.

Following the now legendary formula created by “The Sims,” Coffee Bar allows you to choose among a catalogue of interior design choices. Floor tiles and wallpaper patterns abound. There’s also stuff like jukeboxes, plush booths, clocks and mirrors and funky water features to choose from. Unfortunately, many of the cooler-looking items look like they can only be bought with Facebook credits—i.e., real money. Even customizing your barista’s hairstyles or outfits cost in-game credits, which is kind of irritating.

Coffee Bar

It seems like, at this time, there’s little new in the way of interacting between you and your Facebook friends in the game. There’s the standard “leader board” at the bottom of the screen, and the constant prompts to recruit friends as servers or publish wall posts for all to see. You can also send “gifts” to your friends, enticing them to add the application. Same old, same old, really, or it might just be too early to tell.

Coffee Bar

Overall, percolating cups o’ joe for virtual coffee lovers is pretty fun. There are still some graphic issues to smooth out, but for the most part, it seems like this game is ready to say bye-bye to beta mode. It doesn’t take long to spot the “Farmville” and “Diner Dash” similarities, so if you’re a fan of those, Coffee Bar will likely whet your whistle (and your customers’).