In USA Today, Bruce Horovitz has a report on Starbucks that makes no small claims. The coffee chain, simply put, is changing America.
Starbucks has a [glitzy] goal: to help rewrite society's pop culture menu. The company that sells 4 million coffee drinks daily in the USA is hot to extend its brand beyond the espresso machine to influence the films we see, CDs we hear and books we read. In the process, it aims to grow into a global empire rivaling McDonald's.
One of those world-changing initiatives is the chain's sale of fair trade coffee, about which more can be read in Kerry Howley's already-classic March 2006 Reason feature. But the other Starbucks innovations include "changing what we'll pay for coffee, changing coffee tastes, changing what we eat, changing how we order, changing how people meet, changing cities," and playing a big role in the music industry. (I guess Antigone Rising are going nowhere but down, but the rest of Starbucks in-store CDs have proven pretty influential.) Some consumers are welcoming the changes; others, as evidenced by this Fark thread (with obligatory Battlestar Galactica references), are more skittish.