So yesterday the New York Times runs a story on a $20,000 cup of coffee (see post below) while today the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a story about Starbucks implementing a “trial” of $1 8-ounce drip coffees with free refills at certain stores in Seattle. Why? It’s a response the story says of recent efforts by McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts to capture some of the café (well, Starbucks café) market.
To me the two stories taken in conjunction give a sense of what’s really going on in specialty coffee. Independent cafés and micro roasters seem to pushing for higher and higher quality, and then with the proof in the cup, charging higher prices for exceptional coffees. Meanwhile, the mammoth Big Green which used to see independent cafés and other coffee chains as its chief competitors has now found itself instead in a pitched battle with companies that make it look small (well, not too small…) by comparison.
This is my favorite quote from the article, it’s said by a Starbucks customer: “Their coffee isn’t what it used to be.” Of course, at Barista Magazine, we might say there’s a very good reason for that as the Starbucks barista is no longer someone who really is, you know, a barista. But I think there may be something else afoot. Maybe Starbucks coffee is exactly what it has always been, only now, after experiencing the truly exceptional coffees offered at independent cafés around the world, the same old Starbucks brew tastes well like something you might buy for a buck.
Oh, and in related news with the company’s setbacks last year, Howard Schultz didn’t receive his usual bonus, and so he only collected his regular salary and benefits for the year. That comes to $10.6 million. Poor guy.
What “pressure” does Starbucks exert on coffee consumers? The last time I checked, everyone enters the front door of their own accord.
What real estate does Starbucks “gobble up”? Their retail space is leased by willing landlords, just like everyone else’s shops. If you want to give a landlord more $ than Starbucks for their space, what kind of idiot would lease to them instead of you?
What’s this “cult like bs”? I don’t see that on the menu.
Why shouldn’t Starbucks work for the bottom line? If you’re not working for the bottom line, I would wager that you won’t be in business for long. Better yet, if you’re so set against the “bottom line”, send your profits to CoffeeKids (or me).
My point above is that it’s not fair to denigrate folks that work at a different shop just because they use different equipment. Vac pots and the like are technology from the 1920’s- do we speak ill of the people that use it because it’s old or different? Obviously from the above, we’re not.
Talk bad all you want about the flavor of the coffee, but don’t go picking on the friendly barista at my local Starbucks. That’s not fair, honestly, it’s a cheap shot that no-one deserves.
I dunno, smooveb. Starbucks is more than the sum of it’s parts. The pressure that they exert on coffee consumers, the real estate that they gobble up, and the well, cult-like motivational BS that they espouse is creepy. When a corporation of a certain size goes public, they are not reacting to consumers’ best experience. They’re working for the bottom line. That’s why they don’t pull shots, and that’s why they’re coffee sucks. IMO.
Ouch. That’s a pretty harsh way to talk about 150,000 folks that are just trying to make good coffee and please their customers each day. Do you disparage other writers that use less sophisticated equipment than you do to publish their words?