Economics

Now Playing at Reason.tv: Starbucks vs. the Little Guy—Is the corporate coffee behemoth really unstoppable?

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Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz recently announced that the company would close 600 of its approximately 12,000 American stores in the coming year, sending 12,000 managers and baristas to the unemployment line.

But as Starbucks contracts, many independent coffee shops are growing, beating the coffee giant in an upscale market it helped to create.

As anti-corporate crusaders are now discovering, instead of advocating for legal prohibitions on chain stores or attempting to zone the offending businesses off of Main Street USA, mom-and-pop shops can successfully combat the coffee behemoth by using old-fashioned market competition.

reason.tv's Michael C. Moynihan and Dan Hayes investigate. Click below to watch.

For more articles and links, and to embed this video on your website, go here.

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  1. All you have to do to beat Starbucks is serve a good cup black coffee in under 10 minutes.

    Really how can a coffee company have such crappy black coffee?

  2. Its collapse may be unstoppable.

  3. Reason TV is getting a lot slicker. Good job!

  4. Speaking of conspiracies to make Americans drink crappy coffee, did anyone see Mythbusters last night? It’s a new one blasting the moon landing hoax buffoons. I thought Hit & Run would mention it, but I guess convention fever has taken over. I don’t watch the conventions, don’t care about the conventions, and am appalled by the conventions. Moon landings, on the other hand, are groovy.

  5. Pro Libertate,

    They probably figured it would rile up the Troofers. Thank goodness most of that crap has died down around here. Between them and anti-Ron Paul trolls, I was toying with filtering.

  6. I just wish there were a way to merge the moon “hoax” with The Truth about 9/11?.

  7. Great video. Nothing groundbreaking, but just reiterates the point that you don’t need extremism and government intervention to beat down “Big Business”, you just need something else the people want. Whoever provides what the people want most efficiently wins. I don’t know why it is so hard for some people to get that.

  8. Tryst, ugh! They are to pretentiousness what Starbucks is to ubiquity. (And what I am to italicization.)

  9. Thank goodness most of that crap has died down around here

    Until the next thread that mentions anything related. Like Arnold, they’ll be back.

  10. How about… the special effects created to fake the moon landing were used to make it look like a plane hit the Pentagon instead of a missile.

    Of course, the real connecting thread between the two is moronanity.

  11. Maybe the twin towers weren’t destroyed at all, and the government did it on a Hollywood set. They used it to start a war with Iraq, to get all their oil, and then will return everyone who has been hiding in the government bunkers *under* Hollywood to their families after all is said and done.

    /Best combo I could come up with on short notice.

  12. Hey Mike, that was excellent. Nice touch, swilling the latte up front.

    Really how can a coffee company have such crappy black coffee?

    I am old enough to remember crappy coffee and Starbucks ain’t it. For comparison, drop by Gloria Jeans and suffer through that stuff.

    Once upon a time if you didn’t live in San Francisco or Seattle you were SOL.

    I love Gen X, if for no other reason than they gave us good coffee.

    Is Starbucks the best? No, but if it’s made correctly it is pretty tasty.

    Disclaimer: I am not a lattee sipper, I hate flavored coffees.

    I like a good strong cup of coffee (Sumatra, Frog Roast, etc) that I then sissify with cream and sugar. Makes me less of a man, but it’s worth it.

    Peet’s is pretty good.

  13. How about… the special effects created to fake the moon landing were used to make it look like a plane hit the Pentagon instead of a missile.

    You think too small. We’re in The Matrix, so everything is a lie.

  14. Robbie,

    Whoever provides what the people want most efficiently wins. I don’t know why it is so hard for some people to get that.

    They don’t want anyone to win. They want the world to be a Special Olympics event where everyone gets a first-place blue ribbon no matter how much effort they put forth.

  15. the special effects created to fake the moon landing were used to make it look like a plane hit the Pentagon instead of a missile

    The special effects did a pretty good job of hitting about where my Ma’s husband’s office used to be. Thank God when the Pentagon offered Sonny an early retirement buy out a few months before 09/11 he took it.

    Just living right I guess.

    Oh, wait! No way! Do you think Sonny was in on it?

    Holy Mother of God!

  16. Robbie,

    Capricorn One scenario.

  17. Is Starbucks the best? No, but if it’s made correctly it is pretty tasty.

    By which you mean loaded down with so much crap it barely resembles coffee? Yeah, that’s how they get by with all the crazy espresso drinks.

    Almost anywhere has better plain black coffee than Starbucks. Hell, the Folger’s we use at the office is better.

  18. I love Misha’s here in Old Town Alexandria where I work. Their dark roast makes Starbucks seem like PTA meeting coffee, you can smoke, and people actually talk to each other. It has, you know, character.

    Starbucks is perfect for the suburbs where I live though. I guess they just need to find the markets where they work best.

  19. Episiarch,

    The Matrix analogy is just a recycle of Plato’s cave, and there’s not point having a conversation if you’re barking up that tree. Even worse is the solipsist argument, which, of course, proves that everything and everyone is just an illusion. But me.

    However, there is an extreme skeptic position that falls short of the solipsist world view. I’d be much more interested in the moon hoaxer position if they’d adopt this belief: “Moon? What Moon? Sure, I see that shiny object you call the Moon. That’s just an optical illusion.”

  20. Some calorie counter site I was perusing showed that a large Starbucks milkshake (some call it coffee) has about the same number of calories as the dreaded Big Mac.

  21. They want the world to be a Special Olympics event where everyone gets a first-place blue ribbon no matter how much effort they put forth.

    Like the game of musical chairs where chairs>people.

    “Everyone’s a winner!”

  22. There is no spoon moon, ProL.

    The Matrix provides the evil-intelligence-behind-everything aspect that conspirazoids love.

  23. Oh, while we are on the topic, does anyone else think that Starbuck’s is a far sight better than Caribou Coffee. I’m not a coffee connoisseur by any means, but I think that their coffee is crap.

  24. TWC,

    Well, someone had to go into the towers and rig them with thousands of pounds of explosives in a perfect “controlled demolition” manner–while absolutely no one noticed–just in case a plane flying into the building didn’t bring it down.

    Or were all those explosives placed while the building was burning and people were evacuating? I’m not up-to-the-minute on the lunatic fringe. I missed the most recent issue of Psychotic Ravings Review. I’m pretty sure zombie-JFK stole it out of my mailbox.

  25. TWC,

    Oh, wait! No way! Do you think Sonny was in on it?

    Same must be true for my cousin, who had a meeting in one of the towers that day. The meeting was fortunately suspiciously cancelled.

    We’re really just baiting the Truthers now. Fun!

  26. I’m pretty sure zombie-JFK stole it out of my mailbox.

    “They dyed me this color!”

  27. I rather doubt we’re in anything like the Matrix. Given gaming and various other shared virtual experiences, I rather think this existence is something we’ve imposed upon ourselves. I’m playing Pro Libertate in Grand Theft Earth.

  28. I don’t like coffee, but Starbucks has some fantastic high-octane iced tea. Most indie coffeeshops don’t even bother.

    Really, though, if you want an explanation of the success of Starbucks, go into five or six indie coffeeshops. Half the time the waitstaff are insolent assholes who are either smoking out front or too busy scratching their infected nose-ring to help you. The only place in town that sell bulk loose tea acts like it has a five tattoo minimum.

  29. Starbucks? Hah!

  30. I’m not old enough to remember, but I’ve heard about this thing back in the ’60s call “blue jeans”. Seems that this was a hippie thing (stick it to the man, and all that stuff) that corporate America caught on to and mass marketed. When the hippies figured that out, they quickly turned away from bkue jeans, but all the non-hippies were hooked.

    A company called “Levi Struass” or something was the world leader of making blue jeans back then.

    These days there are a dozen or more brands of jeans, but Levi’s remain the classic. And still sell well.

    All the folks who talk about how Starbucks used to be hip and swank and have real baristas and how they now go to XYZ to get a “real” esspresso are just the modern hippies: They move on, but the rest of the nation (and world, in Starbucks’ case) sticks with the market leader and classic coffee.

  31. Hell, the Folger’s we use at the office is better.

    Dude, you gotta find a new Starbucks. 🙂

    Although, my first Starbucks was a horrid cup of coffee and I kept thinking to myself (for years, literally) that I simply could not understand what all the fuss was about. Then like 8 years later I tried it again.

    I understand that if you’re drinking it black that you probably don’t want it as strong as I do. That’s why Kona is supposed to be so good, very mild and mellow. I don’t like it because it’s too weak.

    Personally, I enjoy making fun of latte sipping soccer mom’s and all that. I hate all that crap, but, stout crawl-down-your-throat coffee mellowed with cream and sugar, that’s just my game.

  32. Maybe people are getting wise to all that gimmicky shit.

  33. I can’t WTFV, NutraSweet, but if it doesn’t have the lawnmower bit from Dead Alive/Braindead, then epic fail.

  34. Coffee is so bourgeoisie!

    Whaddya mean McGwinn & McGuire got started in a coffee house?

  35. I’d respect Starbucks more if it were based on the old Battlestar Galactica character and used Dirk Benedict in all of its advertising.

    That and if they didn’t sell grossly overpriced, crappy coffee and milkshakes disguised as not-milkshakes.

  36. Sugar, loved that five tattoo minimum gag.

    And the towers…..and Dagny over there baiting on the truthers. Wait, I’m not Urkobold.

    Baiting the truthers. Sorry,

  37. J Sub, did you get the coffee maker from my grandma?

    Actually, perked coffee is pretty good. I’ve had your coffee before. Not lately though.

  38. “They dyed me this color!”

    That’s pretty got dam funny.

  39. Epi,

    They cover The Blob, Zombies, Gremlins, Tribbles, The Monster from The Horror of Party Beach, Triffids, Giant Slugs, Killers Tomatoes, and Mars Attacks Martians. AMC, so it’s kid-friendly.

  40. I’d respect Starbucks more if it were based on the old Battlestar Galactica character and used Dirk Benedict in all of its advertising

    That would actually cause me to go there. I wouldn’t buy any of their crap, but I’d go.

    and Dagny over there baiting on the truthers

    You should have stopped right there.

  41. Given the political proclivities of anti-corporate crusaders, they will discover nothing and there will be no reduction in their efforts to prohibit chain stores from operating.

  42. “They dyed me this color!”

    That’s pretty got dam funny.

    “Look, man, do I look like an icky-ologist to you? Big damn bugs, all right? The size of my fist. The size of a peanut butter and banana sandwich.”

  43. TWC,
    The percolator and Eight O’Clock was what I grew up with. Eight O’Clock is actually a step up in quality from things like Folgers and Maxwell House. It’s ~5% cheaper as well. Of course being a 21st century guy, except for camping when the percolator still gets a workout, I use one of those new fangled drip machines.

  44. You should have stopped right there.

    Spose so.

  45. Must admit I use a Nespresso machine at home for the convenience. Not too bad either (better than starbucks, anyway).

    At work I go to one of the local places that use Illy and are staffed by girls from poor parts of Italy or France. Pretty good coffee.

  46. “Disclaimer: I am not a lattee sipper, I hate flavored coffees.”

    I don’t know what Starbucks puts in their lattes but a true caffelatte is just coffee and warm milk. It’s the Italian equivalent of cafe au lait (latte means milk in Italian.)

    I never go to Starbucks myself. Not because of some silly anti-chain store mentality but simply because I can make a better cup of coffee at home. Fresh roasted beans + pure water + french press = great cup of coffee. And it won’t cost 5 bucks.

  47. Almost anywhere has better plain black coffee than Starbucks.

    Their regular coffee is disgusting; it tastes like burnt charcoal. I always presumed it was done on purpose to make people spend more money on the prepared drinks, which are OK if you like that sort of thing.

  48. Is Starbucks the best? No, but if it’s made correctly it is pretty tasty.

    Their milkshakes are great, when that’s what you want.

    I have never had a cup of Starbuck’s black coffee that didn’t taste the same: charred beans, and too many of ’em. Practically nothing makes my guts churn, but their coffee does.

    Lighter roasts, people, are the way to go with good beans. “American” or “City” roasts let you taste the coffee, instead of the charcoal coating. However, if your beans are cheap crap, then you need to disguise the flavor by charring them.

    I practically never buy coffee outside the house anymore.

    Tonight, now that I think about it, I need to roast up another batch of Kenya AA. Wait for the first crack, then hit the off button. Heaven!

  49. In Vancouver (Canada) all the specialty coffee shops have wireless internet access for the laptop crowd. It’s free everywhere but Starbucks, go figure.

  50. I don’t know what Starbucks puts in their lattes but a true caffelatte is just coffee and warm milk.

    I’m not against lattes, it was hyperbole to illustrate.

    Today has been instructive. I’ve learned that I don’t know what good coffee tastes like. 🙂

    Therefore, I’m putting in an order for RC’s Kenya AA and I’m breaking out the French Press from under the counter.

    BTW, is there any good way to clean the Frog Press once you’ve finished? I don’t seem to be very good at it and always end up with a mess.

  51. RAP, at our local Starbucks, the wireless is free. I think.

    Stayed at a nice hotel in Phoenix recently and the wireless in the room was like fifteen bucks a day. But if you walked out to the lobby it was free.

  52. Best thing that can happen to a WELL RUN independent shop is for a Starbucks to open up near by.

    Once folks taste the (only) fair coffee that the Starbucks superautomatic (does everything but steam the milk) espresso machines make, they’ll really appreciate the excellent espresso that a real (manual, semiauto or automatic) espresso machine can produce IF you have a well trained, competent barista working it.

    Since I took a class on how to make proper espresso based beverages, I can’t help but critique every barista I watch, be it in a Starbucks, other chain or independent. Too many steam the milk wrong and all too often (at shops that use non-superautomatics) tamp the coffee puck wrong. The thing is, it’s not too difficult to do the correct way.

    Poor technique results in lower quality beverages – the milk is too foamy or not well blended yielding inferior texture of the final beverage, or you get a poor extraction on the coffee / espresso shots, resulting in a weak or bitter flavor profile.

  53. Maybe this is it:

    I rarely buy a ready made cup of Starbucks. But I buy the beans and we make the coffee at home to my own tastes. And, come to think of it, I do like my own coffee (made with Starbucks beans) better than theirs.

    We sometimes use different beans but primarily Starbucks.

  54. Coffee is for pussies. I drink koumis, flavored with the blood of my enemies.

  55. This is a slightly aggravating subject for me because I’ve been out of the US for about a year now and for 11 months of that year I’ve been in Rome, Odessa and Cherkasy – all of which are cities where I’ve managed to find outstanding cappuccino.

    Truth be told, it was a little tough to find in Rome on Sunday near the train station and in Ukraine it’s been impossible to find before 9:00am, but those are limitations I can deal with.

    I’ve really been looking forward to getting back to the US, but I’ve been dreading the coffee.

    Regarding Starbucks vs. Caribou – I lived in the Twin Cities for 14 years and given the choice I would always go with Caribou. It’s not that they were good, but they weren’t as consistently bad. When I went to the same store daily for a month or longer, I could get the better baristi trained. As Caribou grew they got more and more like Starbucks, though, and now I don’t know that I could tell the difference. Last time I checked Caribou’s smallest latte had 2 shots of espresso and Starbuck’s had only one. You have to pay extra for the second.

    Really, all a good cappuccino takes is decent coffee, roasted correctly and whole milk at the correct temperature. That’s it. You wouldn’t think it would be some kind of rocket science, but American coffee shops just don’t get it. Grrr.

    That said, does anybody have a lead on good coffee in downtown San Diego?

  56. Coffee is for pussies. I drink koumis, flavored with the blood of my enemies.

    Did Kirk drink coffee? No? Coffee is for pussies.

  57. “Some calorie counter site I was perusing showed that a large Starbucks milkshake (some call it coffee) has about the same number of calories as the dreaded Big Mac.”

    I am convinced that the milkshakes are one of the things that is killing Starbucks. One of the things that got Starbucks going was that it was one of the few places you could go and sit in a comfy chair and just talk or read. When they started serving milkshakes, their atmosphere was ruined by the sound of blenders running all the time. It made the places intollerable.

  58. Episiarch,

    “What would Kirk do?” is the question that guides me through life.

  59. “What would Kirk do?” is the question that guides me through life.

    Don’t forget “What would Ash do?”

    (I have a “WWAD” t-shirt. Yes, I rule.)

  60. But it doesn’t have that raw sewage aftertaste!

  61. I have a feeling this won’t be a popular statement, but IMO the best coffee is Dunkin’ Donuts’ coffee.

  62. “What would Ash do?”

    Shop smart.

  63. Eric,

    I hear that more and more from coffee drinkers.

    Episiarch,

    Yes, yes, Bruce Campbell is a great role model in most of his roles, but come, let us be serious. Kirk is the role model of role models. Only David Lo Pan can possibly compete.

  64. Eric-

    You can’t always trust your feelings-I love my morning large regular and my mid afternoon medium regular Dunkin’ Donuts coffees.

    I do not abhor Starbucks by any means. If I amn out west or in the Carolinas, Tennessee. Georgia, etc., I will have Starbucks-but I will not go out of my way to go to a Starbucks as I would for a Dunkys. Perhaps you would do the same.

  65. When in Tennessee, I go to my local Jack Daniels. Coffee, with a twist o’ whiskey.

  66. How about Chatz? Anybody ever try it? Supposed to be good.

  67. I have a feeling this won’t be a popular statement

    I was going to mention that Dunkin Donuts is the only coffee worse than Starbucks but I didn’t want to veer too far off topic. Even the sickly sweet donut smell of that stuff makes me cringe.

  68. Krispy Kreme will conquer the beverage world with its glazed doughnut drink. Get this: Coffee is a mere optional additive to this king of all things fluidy.

  69. I just wish there were a way to merge the moon “hoax” with The Truth about 9/11?.

    All you have to do is ask a Troofer, and he’ll tell you with a straight face what the connection is: Evidence that that moonshot was faked was stored in WTC1. WTC2 was hit to cover up WTC1, and WTC7 was “pulled” just so Giuliani could get in on the action too.

    p.s. I don’t like Starbucks, which is why I don’t drink their coffee. It’s a radical concept, too extreme for most liberals, but if you don’t like a corporation, don’t buy their products!

  70. Cannot. . .resist. . .corporate. . .jingles! Must consume Big Mac with supersized everything! Help me say no!

  71. What would I do? Something awesome, I guess.

  72. Walter Cronkite said they were on the moon. Neil Armstrong said he walked on the moon. Other Nasanots claimed they were on the moon. Millions of americans had their wages confiscated, in part, to put a man on the moon. Ergo, Apollo 11 et seq. were not hoaxes.

    Epi, Sugar Free, Pro Liberate et al, you must admit, however, that you do not have any percipient knowledge of the moon landings. You weren’t there. Listen, a little radical doubt is a good thing-it can only help. You tend not to fall for the big lies like Lincoln freed the slaves or that the 16th amendment was duly and constitutionally ratified or that Israel is a beacon of individual freedom, prosperity and tolerance for all faiths or americans enjoy more personal freedom than any other people in the hisotry of the galaxy or that the american soldier and military are invincible or that government is a prerequisite to civilization.

  73. John,
    “I am convinced that the milkshakes are one of the things that is killing Starbucks.”

    Frappicinos(sp?) make up 50% of Starbucks’ sales.

  74. Extreme skepticism leads to a solipsist worldview. I’m willing to accept that events have occurred with a reasonable amount of evidence. There is a compelling amount of proof that we’ve been to the Moon, and the arguments that we haven’t are very weak to outright stupid; therefore, I accept that we went to the Moon. QED.

    I tend to be skeptical about many things, though, but really nutty claims require really nutty amounts of evidence.

    Besides, my dad worked on the Apollo program. Which makes me one of Them, I suppose.

  75. Walter Cronkite said they were on the moon

    At the time of the moon landing the TV reporters did a lot of Man In The Street clips. Saw one where they asked a rural Georgia woman what she thought about the moon landing. She said:

    I don’t believe none of it. My TV don’t even get Atlanta, how I gonna get the moon?

    Or it could just an urban legend and I have CRS.

  76. I’ve been to Atlanta. It exists.

  77. Shawn

    You like it wet or dry on the cap?

    Not too many folks in the States actually have cappuccino. Kind of advanced…you actually taste the espresso.

    Mochas and flavored lattes are the ‘gateway’ beverages into the espresso based drink world. They’re ‘safe’…….

    One of the things hammered home during my class about independs vs. Starbucks and other very large chains: They all have to have a consistent product from store to store. A big mac is a big mac is a big mac. Bud, no matter how piss water the stuff is, is at least consistent piss water. Ditto that with Starbucks coffee. The trouble is, to get the volume of consistent product they need, they have to roast the hell out of it, so you get a pretty bitter product.

    The independent (shop or small chain), only needing a few dozen to a few hundred pounds of coffee a week, can get consistency, but with nuanced flavor that the big boys simply can’t do.

  78. Pro, A good friend’s dad also worked on the Apollo program (Don Weber).

    He has a two dollar bill signed by Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee, who were killed in that tragic fire in the late 1960’s.

    Don’t know it has value, but it sure is cool.

    I’ve been to Atlanta. It exists.

    Zingggg!

    One of my favorite bloggers wrote about HotLanta (where even the bums call you Ma’am) here .

  79. Kirk is the role model of role models. Only David Lo Pan can possibly compete.

    Lo Pan? Which Lo Pan? The little old basket case on wheels or the ten foot tall roadblock?

  80. Episiarch,

    Tall guy, weird clothes. First you see him, then you don’t.

    I love that movie. I even bought a Jack Burton tank top for working out in. And when I’m shaking the pillars of heaven.

  81. TWC,

    My dad was with a subcontractor for Apollo (Boeing). He programed simulations of the sloshing of fuel in the Sat. V and for the operation of the suspension system for the moon buggy. He still says that was the highpoint of his career, even though he had a good career doing other things (he’s retired now).

  82. What would Ash do?

    Ash would kill the entire crew to get an Alien back to corporate headquarters, that’s what he (it) would do.

    Emulating this behavior is going to… make life difficult for you.

  83. Pro Lib @ 4:06 and Epi @ 4:10

    for your consideration

  84. What would Ash do?

    He’d autograph books at Starbucks corporate headquarters again, like he did a few years ago.

  85. “Did Kirk drink coffee?”

    He did here.

    And it definitely wasn’t decaf.

  86. Pro Liberate-6:29

    I can’t quibble with your reasoning-I basically agree. However, I just don’t get the conflation of the moon hoaxers with the 9/11 truth people. I have expressed this thought before here and folks say that they are one in the same, etc. Honest to God, I have been exposed to more about the moon hoaxers on Reason threads than I had ever read, watched or had the pleasure of having some person trying to talk it up with me.

  87. for your consideration

    do we know them?

  88. Trying to get an iced expresso drink in London without Starbucks was a disaster. Cafe Nero and Costa’s couldn’t make an Iced Americano worth the effort of urinating it out.

  89. Kolohe,

    Whoa, treble trouble! I think we should mate the Starbucks and see what happens.

  90. I prefer Coffee Bean to Starbucks but generally prefer Starbucks to most independent coffee shops since I’m only interested in Iced Coffee to go, not espresso in a pretty mug or “atmosphere”.

    I used to live in an area that discouraged corporate business chains from moving in. The day Starbucks finally arrived there were literally protests in the street about it (this is what people did before we invaded Iraq I guess).

    I asked a local independent coffee shop owner about how he was going to manage with a Starbucks down the street and he frankly didn’t care. “I cater to a different crowd” was his reply. He didn’t think they were going to cannibalize his business since his shop was about sitting around and drinking coffee where Starbucks was for people on the way to work.

    I prefer Starbucks to not Starbucks and spend entirely to much money every week on coffee that I could make at home for cheap. Why is this?

  91. Starbucks is closing a bunch of its outlets here in Australia, because locals chose to stay with the little guys. People in Melbourne and Sydney know their coffee and don’t want a cookie cutter experience. Starbucks didn’t adequately cater for the local market and failed. What a shocker.

    In a funny kind of way, it gladdens my heart as it proves that markets really do work sometimes. An article about it appeared in an Aussie free market publication from the Institute of Public Affairs:

    http://www.ipa.org.au/news/1652/memo-starbucks-next-time-try-selling-ice-to-eskimos-

  92. Shawn

    You like it wet or dry on the cap?

    Sorry, No Name Guy, I went to bed before I saw your question. Also, I don’t know what that means. I like it like the way the Italians make it, although ideally with better coffee than they use and a correspondingly lighter roast.

  93. Drinking coffee through a plastic straw is undignified.

  94. Starbucks tried to sustain 5%+ growth to keep Wall Street, even though its a mature company nearing market saturation. They overstretched and opened too many stores.

  95. How do I politely say “boo-hoo”? I work in Manhattan, 8am 5 days a week and I go to Starbucks almost every morning. There is a Dunkin Donuts on every corner here and they are MORE expensive than Starbucks for crappier service and worse coffee.

    Point is, starbucks has variety. If you don’t like “milkshakes” then don’t go there. Get over yourselves, all of you. No one forces you to go there, so just go somewhere else and stop expecting the rest of the US to agree with your tastebuds.

    The reason Starbucks is in business is because people like the drinks and food they get for the price. The service (in my experience) has always been better and faster than any other chain coffee shop and the taste is consistent. While Dunkin has better black coffee, the people there cannot count change to save their lives and are horribly slow and unorganized. If I chance to add anything to my coffee, the taste is inconsistent because their “measuring” consists of eyeballing. Very unprofessional and not worth the cost, imo.

    Lastly, people like me go there for breakfast, not just coffeee. Starbucks still has the cheapest bagels in Manhattan and they always taste the same because they aren’t smashed against other bagels and donuts transferring flavors. The last thing I need at 8am is a walk back out of the office to get my breakfast corrected. Starbucks does it the way I want, correctly, every time. They have yet to mess up an order and it is this well trained staff which keeps my business.

  96. If mediocre coffee isn’t enough of a reason to dislike Starbucks, there is the matter of the cartoonist they slapped down with a lawsuit for parodying them:
    http://www.cbldf.org/pr/001130-starbucks.shtml

  97. I can’t figure out how starbucks stays in business. I never buy their coffee (cuz I have “free” Starbucks machines at work), but every time I go thru the drive-thru with the wifegirlfriend I notice they keep a small bucket at the window that is pretty well-stocked with money. I only take from the bucket when I’m short a couple bucks, but surely they can’t be paying everyone to use their product and still remain solvent.

  98. The coffee shop that starts carrying Kopi Luwak is the one that will win my business due to their sheer dedication to coffee.

    Shameless local plug: get some Kaldi’s if you can. Good stuff. They hand roast and their place is right on the highway, providing a 60 mph aromatic foreshadowing of the coffee to come at the office. Honestly, it’s the only good thing about the interstate.

  99. Starbucks does have absolutely terrible black coffee.

    But I will take and iced, vente, three-pump cinnamon dolce, breve Starbucks Doubleshot on ice, please.

    (I realize the ice part is in there twice, but that’s the way they told me to say it.)

  100. “an” not “and”

  101. Shawn

    The way I was taught to make cap:

    Wet Cap: 1 (or 2) shot(s) espresso, equal volume steamed milk, equal volume dry foamed milk on that. Layered.

    Dry Cap: 1 (or 2) shots(2) espresso, equal volume dry foamed milk on that. Again, layered.

    I’ve also heard that some folks like something in between – the shots of espresso with an equal volume of wet foamed milk – more foamy than just steamed milk, but not the light, dry foam you spoon from the very top of the steaming pitcher if you’re really trying to foam it up. Perhaps this is the true Italian way….Any Italians care to comment?

  102. Well, Sarah, you are a New Yorker with a bit of refinement.

    Starbucks will never have fans from the right side of the political spectrum. Too much Joni Mitchell like music, they’re from Seattle, they pay health benefits and are led by a liberal capitalist, etc.

    Now there are Left and Right LPers for sure, but the right leaning ones will bash Starbucks and defend Wal-Mart and Creationism in one single yell.

  103. I dont know about the next guy but I stopped buying $5 coffees months ago!

    Whistler
    http://www.datools.echoz.com

  104. Shrike,

    I’m a right leaner, and I’ll support Starbucks to the end.

  105. 106 comments on a friggin’ coffee thread.
    Folks, it’s just coffee. And it isn’t going anywhere. Relax and smell your precious foam.

  106. Anther problem with government zoning out Starbucks is it sends a message to local stores one does not have to compete; I had been to many poor local shops. Coffee People in Portland, was good but hours were to short and they made a very poor business decision in trying to compete at the level of Starbucks and another shop I felt employed false advertising by touting freshly roasted coffee but cannot tell me where. The there was the sop we once had out local furmeet in, they made it clear we lounging in their store was not welcomed and food offerings was below sub par. These days I prefer Peets.

  107. I have said it once and I will say it again: calling a person who makes coffee a barista is about as retarded as calling a janitor a custodial engineer.

  108. “Starbucks will never have fans from the right side of the political spectrum. Too much Joni Mitchell like music, they’re from Seattle, they pay health benefits and are led by a liberal capitalist, etc.

    Now there are Left and Right LPers for sure, but the right leaning ones will bash Starbucks and defend Wal-Mart and Creationism in one single yell.?

    It is amazing how you were able to be an arrogant elitist and a total idiot in the same quote.

  109. No Name Guy | August 29, 2008, 3:42pm | #

    Thanks for the information. That explains a bit about the way American coffee shops make cappuccini.

    I’m not Italian and I haven’t been trained as a barista, but I’ve spent about 5 months of my life in Italy drinking cappuccino daily. Also, I took an Italian language class where the teacher defined some of the standard Italian coffee terminology. So, I’ll take a shot at answering your question.

    From my notes: cappuccino = coffee (espresso) and milk with schiuma. In my experience the schiuma is a very wet foam that sits in a thin layer on top, but sort of blends into the lower layer, which is a mix of espresso and steamed milk. The whole thing has more viscosity than you typically see in a latte or cappuccino in the US.

    Unless you are on the train, it is always served in a ceramic cup, which significantly lowers the temperature of the drink compared to a paper cup. Also, it feels like it has slower heat transfer in my mouth, possibly due to having higher fat or air content instead of water. In America I have to get a latte at about 130 degrees F to get the same temperature feeling.

  110. I have said it once and I will say it again: calling a person who makes coffee a barista is about as retarded as calling a janitor a custodial engineer.

    Um, do you realize that English is pretty much entirely words borrowed from other languages? Since barista is a nice, short, easy-to-pronounce Italian word for “person who makes coffee” (more or less) and we don’t have an existing word for that, what’s the problem with borrowing it?

  111. Hi folks:) As a minority of one, I prefer Starbucks’ coffee to that of Denny’s and most other chain restaurants. So far I haven’t found the perfect coffee, nonacidic with a deep nutty taste. But I will never cease looking:)

    About Starbucks’ closings: if *they* created the perfect coffee, I’d probably save my dimes and quarters, and go there a few times a week without fail.

    Perhaps folks look to the small coffeehouses as I used to look at self-improvement books, that is, as if Christ were to enter through the front of a New Great Book and into my heart. It never happened, yet though I have given up on the book, I still look to the small coffeehouse as if it were a Holy Grail.

    best wishes all,
    Mike mikerael4@yahoo.com

  112. Since nobody’s said it yet…

    That’s no moon!

    (My coat? It’s the high-viz with an OpenBSD logo on the back.)

  113. Just say “NO” to drugs.

  114. Dunkin has better black coffee, but starbucks has a well trained staff.

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