Beans: The Coffee Shop Simulator

Beans: The Coffee Shop Simulator is a humorous clicker/mini-management game in which players build and manage a coffee shop over several different levels in a trial to inherit a vast fortune.


Developer: Whitethorn Digital
Publisher: Whitethorn Digital
Genre: Clicker/Simulation
Release Date: July 1st, 2017
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux 
User Rating: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

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Beans: The Coffee Shop Simulator Steam store page

Basic Information

Beans: The Coffee Shop Simulator is a humorous clicker/mini-management game in which players build and manage a coffee shop over several different levels in a trial to inherit a vast fortune. A distant relative of yours has died, leaving you as the potential heir to their vast wealth. In order to claim it, however, you’ll have to pass a “trial of the beans” by successfully running a coffee shop in several different locations, all with unique requirements and challenges. 

Key Features:

  • Jammin’ beats – Listen to a variety of cool tunes while you build your shop from scratch.
  • Five hours of content – Several different levels, all with their own unique challenges and opportunities with five hours of gameplay.
  • Hilarious story – Experience a hilarious story that goes entirely off the rails and conquer adversity to claim your fortune.

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Review

By Taylor Whaley

I’ve always been a pretty big fan of tycoon games – some of the very first games that I was introduced to as a kid were the free copies of Zoo Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon. I’ll never forget the joy of pulling my demo copy of Rollercoaster Tycoon out of the cereal box it came in, and booting it up for the first time. Some of my fondest childhood memories are my time playing those games, so I guess you could say that the genre occupies a special place in my heart.

As a result of my rose-tinted nostalgia, I had pretty high hopes when I stumbled upon Beans: The Coffee Shop Simulator. While the game isn’t advertised as a tycoon per se, the idea of opening up and managing a coffee shop in a variety of locations, discovering recipes, and expanding a coffee empire sounded rather novel.

The game plays itself up as though you are going to be making a lot of meaningful management choices, telling you that you’ll need to decide what recipes to research to add to your menu, how to decorate your store, what events to host, etc. In reality though, the game functions a lot more as a clicker than it does as a management/simulation game. For the most part, the store practically runs itself. Sure, maybe you’ll have to kick an angry customer out every once in a while or collect your tips, but other than that you don’t have to do a whole lot to be successful.

There are no recurrent or ongoing costs of any kind (ie rent, paying employees). Instead, everything is a flat fee- to hire an employee it will cost 50, 100, or 150 dollars, depending on how many employees you have hired so far. Purchasing new appliances does increase in cost depending on how far into a level you are, but there’s no expenses that you actually need to be worried about. As a result of these things, failing a level is basically impossible – no matter how much of your money you waste or how much you ignore the objectives of the level, losing can hardly be considered an actual possibility.

The recipe system, although fairly basic, does what it needs to do. As you purchase new appliances, you will be able to unlock new recipes. You can either attempt to figure them out yourself at a lower cost or just pay extra to unlock them outright. There is a small sense of satisfaction to derived in figuring out exactly how one produces a bagelcino, though I’d never want to try one.

The amount of customization that you have available is alright, though I would have liked to see just a bit more available. While there is a fair number of decorations and furniture unique to each level at your disposal, there is always an optimal choice. Everything is organized very linearly – whether you want to or not, the best choice for any given level is going to be to delete the furniture you placed early on and replace it with the most expensive stuff possible, to drive up the rating of your store. It would have been nice to have a few more options than what was on offer there.

The game’s pixel-art aesthetic does the job adequately, though I found that a lot of the time I was put off a little bit by some weird clipping and layering issues it seems to suffer from. It would be nice if furniture that you placed too near the front wall didn’t appear as a layer over top of the wall, but rather as some kind of visible outline you could see through the wall. Alternatively, just remove the front wall altogether. Aside from the graphical issues though, the art is decent, though a little basic for my taste.

Beans’ background music is pretty good, and I really appreciated being given the ability to skip tracks. The only other thing I can really say about it is that I would have liked a few more tracks. An extra track or two per level would have been quite welcome, though that’s a relatively minor quip.

Perhaps rather surprisingly, the biggest strength of Beans is definitely its humorous writing. It’s always exciting when a developer is willing to go a bit off the rails with their writing, and that’s exactly what they’ve done here. The game is very self aware- it pokes fun at itself and its ridiculous (and silly) story quite regularly, as well as the characters involved. It’s not all that common for a game to literally make me laugh out loud in the same way that I did a couple of times while playing Beans. I really appreciate the effort that was put into developing the witty plot- I definitely didn’t expect a simulation game to have such a good sense of humor.

Nothing is perfect however, and the game does suffer from a fair number of problems that detract from the overall experience. The game is lacking pause and fast-forward buttons, both of which are pretty essential. It is very difficult to take the time to look at your finances or the level’s specific objectives when you’ve got angry customers running in and throwing garbage around all the time, so it would have been nice to be able to pause. The levels also start pretty darn slowly so I would have really liked to fast-forward through the dull starting period before you have many customers. Lastly, there are no resolution options or even a windowed/fullscreen toggle. All of these are pretty basic things that should really be included in any game released in 2017.

Overall, I think the game would have been a lot better if it had some more depth to the management aspect. The writing is fairly witty and might even have you laughing at a few points, but the gameplay itself is pretty mediocre and some of the features that are missing (ie pause/fast-forward) can cause frustration. At times I found myself wishing that I could skip ahead to the next story segment, because the humorous writing is really where the game shines. All that being said, if you’re just looking for a game with some clicker/mild management aspects to it that you can play to relax, Beans: The Coffee Shop Simulator could definitely be worth a look.   

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