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Mom & Pop <3 Starbucks
December 30, 2007 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Don't Fear Starbucks
Soon after declining Starbucks's buyout offer, Hyman received the expected news that the company was opening up next to one of his stores. But instead of panicking, he decided to call his friend Jim Stewart, founder of the Seattle's Best Coffee chain, to find out what really happens when a Starbucks opens nearby. "You're going to love it," Stewart reported. "They'll do all of your marketing for you, and your sales will soar".
Contrary to popular belief Starbucks, instead of destroying it, is promoting a thriving Mom & Pop coffee house industry. With the number of independent owned stores growing 40% between 2000 and 2005 and a less than 10% failure rate you might want to start looking for an empty storefront next to your local branch of Seattle's biggest export.
posted by PenDevil (120 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Their coffee still fucking sucks.
posted by rhymer at 11:48 AM on December 30, 2007 [9 favorites]


Actually, and I learned this through Slate, they make a pretty decent short cappuccino. Unfortunately, not every Starbucks carries short cups.
posted by Kattullus at 11:55 AM on December 30, 2007


Coffee shops are just Chocolate Cafés for caffeine freaks. Argue about whether tepid bitter bean water tastes better or worse is like arguing whether getting stabbed by a knife or a screwdriver is better or worse.

There, I said it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:58 AM on December 30, 2007 [29 favorites]


Every starbucks does carry short cups. And the cappuccino you get there, not matter the size, is as good as the barista who made it. Since the norm now is 16 or 20 ounce cappuccinos, which are hard to make proper foam for, most baristas aren't trained to make decent foam. They're trained to make enough okay foam to fill a cup way too big for a decent cappuccino.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 11:58 AM on December 30, 2007


Arguing that Starbucks makes good coffee is a bit like arguing that KFC makes good chicken. What appeals to the greatest number is rarely the best.
posted by rhymer at 12:02 PM on December 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I hope we can get a lot of people in this thread saying they don't like Starbucks coffee. Work, people! You can do it! Your sense of taste is fascinating.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:03 PM on December 30, 2007 [39 favorites]


"This crystal meth tastes awful!"

"Yes, I agree. I much prefer the tang of Billie Joe's brand -- hints of juniper and leather drip down the back of your throat with each snort. But of course, Billie Joe is local, handcrafted crystal meth, not this corporate garbage."

"Quite."
posted by Bookhouse at 12:04 PM on December 30, 2007 [26 favorites]


I thought their hot chocolate was all right.
posted by danb at 12:04 PM on December 30, 2007


That post made no sense. Let me guess. the presence of Starbucks popularized coffee in the area and both shop sales were doing well? Is that it? feel good FPP's met the quota for today, All in favor say "aye" or "meh".
posted by Student of Man at 12:05 PM on December 30, 2007


I like Starbucks coffee just fine; I just don't like their prices much. Interesting that their arrival seems to usually spell success for nearby competing businesses. But I understand why. Someone arrives for their Starbucks coffee and sees a mom and pop coffee store right there too; most people will tend to cheer for the underdog (I know I do), and plunk their moolah down at the small establishment instead, since it's right there.

It's kinda like Starbucks are the sharks and the mom and pop stores are the lampreys. Heh.
posted by jamstigator at 12:08 PM on December 30, 2007


Let me guess.

Why not, um, read the article before declaring it doesn't make any sense?

From what I've seen locally, this argument does seem to hold water. Just look at how many Starbucks there are in Manhattan (Like at Astor Place, where you can be in one Starbucks and wave to your friend in the one diagonally across the street!), while at the same time smaller places still do very well for themselves.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:12 PM on December 30, 2007


the presence of Starbucks popularized coffee in the area and both shop sales were doing well?

I would say it's evidence that people prefer buying from local businesses, which is a good thing. One of the concerns that I've heard voiced is that Starbucks, Walmart and other large chains drive local establishments out of business. It's nice to see at least one case where that isn't necessarily true.
posted by fatbobsmith at 12:13 PM on December 30, 2007


I drink only coffee brewed from beans crapped out by weasels, with water that has been pissed out by weasels.

It costs $250/cup, but I can afford it, because I'm rich and prestigious. The rest of you should probably stick with Starbucks, though, because I doubt your working-class palates could appreciate weasel coffee, and you could scarcely afford it, with your working-class wages.

What's it like to earn a wage and drink mass-produced coffee while commuting to your mass-produced job in a mass-produced car every day of your mass-produced life? Everything I own and do is hand made. By weasels.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 12:14 PM on December 30, 2007 [58 favorites]


That post made no sense. Let me guess. the presence of Starbucks popularized coffee in the area and both shop sales were doing well? Is that it?

It works like this:

1. SBUX opens.

2. Snooty, snotty twentysomethings who like to say "your favorite band sucks" on MeFi look at the SBUX, go on about how their coffee is like drinking tar or "your favorite coffee sucks" or some such thing, then go to indy store next door.

3. Twentysomething dinks/bobos see the trendy MeFites listening to Animal Collective at indy store, get tired of being told "your favorite Norah Jones record sucks," go to indy store, discover coffee isn't half-bad, the baristas are polite and less in the mood to chat you up, and it's a little cheaper, too.

4. Eventually, it reaches a steady-state, where both groups are doing well due to Long Tail theory (and also snooty MeFites sneaking into the SBUX early in the morning to buy their breakfast sandwiches as the indy's vegan cruelty-free danishes taste like sawdust).

Welcome to Seattle. Your favorite independent coffeehouse sucks.
posted by dw at 12:18 PM on December 30, 2007 [13 favorites]


Like at Astor Place, where you can be in one Starbucks and wave to your friend in the one diagonally across the street!

Don't forget to wave to your other buddy at the Barnes and Nobel on the corner, drinking Starbucks coffee from their cafe.

Or is that closed now?
posted by Bookhouse at 12:18 PM on December 30, 2007


Since Starbucks raised their prices a couple of months ago ($5 for a grande?) I've been going local for the cheaper lattes.

Also, are people really straight edge about coffee? That is fucking dreary.
posted by Taargus Taargus at 12:25 PM on December 30, 2007


Is this something you would have to drink coffee to understand?
posted by Naberius at 12:28 PM on December 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hyman's new neighbor boosted his sales so much that he decided to turn the tactic around and start targeting Starbucks. "We bought a Chinese restaurant right next to one of their stores and converted it, and by God, it was doing $1 million a year right away," he said.

Brilliant. It's great that Starbucks works to eliminate stores...

Starbucks is actually *trying* to be ruthless in its store placements; it wants those independents out of the way, and it frequently succeeds at displacing them through other means, such as buying a mom and pop's lease or intimidating them into selling out. Beyond the frothy drinks and the touchy-feely decor, Starbucks runs on considerable competitive fire. Consider Tracy Cornell, a former Starbucks real-estate dealmaker who found and locked up a staggering 900 North American retail sites for the company in her decade-plus career. "It was sort of piranha-like," Cornell told me of her work for Starbucks. "It was just talking to landlords, seeing who was behind on their rent. All I needed was an opening like that, where the landlord wanted out. I was looking for tenants who were weak."

...only to find things like this:

when Starbucks blitzed Omaha with six new stores in 2002, for instance, business at all coffeehouses in town immediately went up as much as 25 percent.

The article claims the "middling" quality of Starbucks coffee and food is a big factor, too (the food really is horrid - there's not a single pastry in the place that tastes as good as any number of snacks I can get at any of the locals). And this part now seems obvious, but it hadn't occurred to me before:

After all, if Starbucks can make a profit by putting its stores right across the street from each other, as it so often does, why couldn't a unique, well-run mom and pop do even better next-door? And given America's continuing thirst for exorbitantly priced gourmet coffee drinks, there's a lot of cash out there for the taking. As coffee consultant Dan Cox explained, "You can't do better than a cup of coffee for profit. It's insanity. A cup of coffee costs 16 cents. Once you add in labor and overhead, you're still charging a 400 percent markup—not bad! Where else can you do that?"

One thing the Starbucks-fueled coffee craze has definitely done is spread the acceptance of sugared coffee drinks among teens and preteens. That's a lot of people now interested in coffee who weren't ten years ago; it's not surprising other coffee shops would benefit.
posted by mediareport at 12:29 PM on December 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately, not every Starbucks carries short cups.

Already been answered, but additionally, the short cups are also used for kid's drinks- mainly hot chocolates. Never heard of one not carrying those cups.
posted by jmd82 at 12:31 PM on December 30, 2007


as the indy's vegan cruelty-free danishes taste like sawdust

!

Jeez, come to North Carolina. Our indy coffee shops have deliciously trashy danishes.
posted by mediareport at 12:31 PM on December 30, 2007


Bookhouse, the Astor Place B&N is closing tomorrow.
posted by AJaffe at 12:39 PM on December 30, 2007


Jeez, come to North Carolina. Our indy coffee shops have deliciously trashy danishes.

Yeah, well, here in Seattle most coffeehouse fare is bad. Most of the pastries taste day-old or worse. The vegan stuff is full of earnestness, not flavor. The sandwiches are always overpriced. The Starbucks breakfast things, surprisingly, are pretty decent.

But generally, unless the coffeehouse or stand is serving Top Pot Doughnuts, it's not worth buying food. OTOH, if they are serving Top Pot, it's worth the trip.
posted by dw at 12:40 PM on December 30, 2007


I don't drink much coffee but I do like Starbucks. However, what I like even more is that the coffee asplosion has indeed opened the market to many local coffee shops, specifically this locally owned chain, which has great coffee, great service, and way more seating than our Starbucks. It's a place you can kick back and relax.
posted by The Deej at 12:45 PM on December 30, 2007


Jeez, come to North Carolina. Our indy coffee shops have deliciously trashy danishes.

Oh thanks. Now I'm homesick
posted by device55 at 12:50 PM on December 30, 2007


But instead of panicking, he decided to call his friend Jim Stewart, founder of the Seattle's Best Coffee chain, to find out what really happens when a Starbucks opens nearby. "You're going to love it," Stewart reported. "They'll do all of your marketing for you, and your sales will soar."

Yeah, whatever you do, don't let them buy you out!
posted by Bugg at 12:53 PM on December 30, 2007 [5 favorites]


I drink only coffee brewed from beans crapped out by weasels, with water that has been pissed out by weasels.

You mean palm civets, not weasels.

Is there a rule 34 for coffee?
posted by A dead Quaker at 1:03 PM on December 30, 2007


I wouldn't be caught dead drinking palm civet coffee. That's striver coffee.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 1:06 PM on December 30, 2007 [6 favorites]


Once had a friend who wanted to open a boutique drive-thru coffee place in a high-end neighborhood. They did extensive market research and determined that Mom & Pop coffee houses are best placed in cities where Starbucks is a saturated brand. Only after the masses realize the value of premium coffee by following the herd to Starbucks will they buy non-Starbucks premium coffee.
posted by jayzallme at 1:07 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is there best example of an independent coffee chain? Unless the only definition Slate can come up with for an independent coffee shop is not-Starbucks, I think they could do better than that. Just from some cursory googling and wikipediaing, it seems to me that CB&TL were already expanding into Southeast Asia around the same period that Starbucks was really ramping up the ludicrous number of outlets we see today. They're not exactly in the same league as Starbucks, but they're hardly mom-and-pop.
posted by Weebot at 1:09 PM on December 30, 2007


I wonder if this same lift effect happens with other chain coffee stores - I'm thinking of Dunkin' Donuts in particular. They aspire to having the same "pave the earth & put three stores on every block" strategy as Starbucks, but without the same focus on the high-end drinks.
posted by ssmith at 1:11 PM on December 30, 2007


Coffee in this country was watery shit before Starbucks arrived. Starbucks may not be the highest quality, but it's pushed the standard waaaaaay up.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:20 PM on December 30, 2007 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I first read this article oh, about ten years ago. It's no secret that a successful brand paves the way for both imitators and differentiators. McDonald's, after all, practically created the international fast food industry. A brand with mindshare is best poised to enter an unexplored market and begin the process of acclimating consumers to appointment-type purchases such as a daily coffee. Ultimately, some of those consumers will be quite happy with what they have, and others will want more choice (or another permanent choice). This is where the opportunity for the mom-and-pop comes in.

It's unlikely that the true mom-and-pop coffee shop of yore will have a ghost of a chance at competing in this market, though. An independent now needs a well-designed store, well-trained staff, and most important, a good coffee recipe. That takes time and money. But it is an opportunity.
posted by dhartung at 1:22 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm probably going to be lynched by the cooler-than-thou crowd, but I like Starbucks (although not as much as I like Cafe Nero, which I don't believe has crossed to the US yet). It fills the "I need a hot drink, now" need very nicely, you know that what you're getting is pretty consistent wherever you are, and the prices aren't that extortionate.

And yes, when I was in Seattle, I did visit the first ever Starbucks.

It were crap.
posted by djgh at 1:27 PM on December 30, 2007


I love Starbucks so much I'm going to troll anyone who doesn't agree with me, using weird non sequitors!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:42 PM on December 30, 2007


Bookhouse, Barnes and Noble is about to close--lost their lease to a new gym--but Walgreen's took over Astor Place Wines, and of course the K-mart is still nearby, so Astor Place still maintains its historic, idiosyncratic charm.

If it weren't for this neighborhood fixture I'd never go by there again.
posted by Phred182 at 1:42 PM on December 30, 2007


dw writes "But generally, unless the coffeehouse or stand is serving Top Pot Doughnuts, it's not worth buying food. OTOH, if they are serving Top Pot, it's worth the trip."

One of the things I really like about my current location is that all the local coffee shops (there are no Starbucks) sell pastries that local bakeries make, or that they make them onsite. There is one guy who delivers them to several shops on his bicycle with a wagon hitched to the back, no matter the weather, though he is usually late at least one out of five days. His orange and chocolate chip muffins are excellent. Some of the shops sell burritos made by a local company, as well as their own menu, and it's mostly good, cheap or moderately priced food. More often than not it's organic. Almost all the shops make decent espresso drinks, too, cheaper than Starbucks. And if you don't like all the frou-frou stuff, there are several local diners and a donut shop which make good, regular coffee with full diner fare. No Denny's, at least not yet. An Applebees just opened next to the Wal-Mart, and it's proving to be very popular.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:45 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Coffee and cigarettes are two things which cruelly disappoint on first experience, based on their scent (I like the smell of both, the latter in moderation). Fortunately I never gave them a chance to get "better" and don't have to seek out small carnivores to shit in my drinks, now.
posted by maxwelton at 1:50 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tuesday, December 15th, 1998 was a very dark day for me.

RIP Pasqua, you kept me wired for 10 years and I'll never forget you. I was like the neighborhood drug dealer when I'd go there and pick up beans for all of my friends.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:02 PM on December 30, 2007


Arguing that Starbucks makes good coffee is a bit like arguing that KFC makes good chicken. What appeals to the greatest number is rarely the best.
posted by rhymer


Now that's some deep shit. You should send it to starbucks. They might put it on a cup.
posted by justgary at 2:15 PM on December 30, 2007 [7 favorites]


Why do I get strange looks when I order a large black coffee at places like Starbucks? I don't want your damned latte mochachino crap.
posted by backseatpilot at 2:22 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just askme an italian metafilterian

1) Buy a Bialetti espresso machine, the bigger 3-4 coffee ones, not the the one person mini if you like starbuck sized long coffee.

2) Buy yourself some toasted, grinded coffee. Before reaching for the flashiest package, consider:
a) if you pick a prepackaged tinfoil coffee package, you also need a glass jar with rubber seal, you will use it to store the coffee.
b) if you pick coffee packed in a tin can , make sure it can be closed properly without letting any air in.
3) add water, add coffee with a little spoon. Boil.
4) enjoy !
5) close the coffee package and put in in the fridge, top shelves doesn't need much cold.

Total cost per coffee is probably less than $1. How does it taste ?

It really depends:
1. wanna be experts and experts taste their coffee with no additional flavoring of any kind
2. others put sweetners or anise liquor , or sambuca liquor, choose your drug !

It is still less than $1 ! It's is NOT CHEAP, it is just Coffee without - marketing, packaging, advertising, real estate , first class seats, expensive restaurants for bosses , on YOUR bill.

But hey if you wanna finance my vices, you are so welcome !
posted by elpapacito at 2:22 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


it also helps that starbucks views competition as valuable to them. This may not be the case everywhere, but when my sister in law was manager at a starbucks, she was on a first name basis with the tully's manager across the street. There was no pricing wars or other cut throat practices.

the way she explained it to me is that with starbucks being as big as it is, there is a very real danger of it being seen as a predator. if other shops are closing as new starbucks shops open, this is bad for starbucks. Near by alternatives keep starbucks looking innocuous to the local coffee market/scene.
posted by nihlton at 2:24 PM on December 30, 2007


They make pretty good Chai.

I'm a Rhode Islander, so my heart belongs to Dunkin Donuts. I don't want 50 options for how to have my coffee made. My options for coffee: Iced or scalding hot? Cream or milk or neither? Sugar, Splenda, neither? Tastes ok or "meh." Those are your options.

Drink half the coffee and then dump it out and drink a Del's/hot chocolate instead because it's too god damn hot/cold out to be drinking this crap. Buy another coffee in 1-2 hours. Repeat.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 2:42 PM on December 30, 2007


Argue about whether tepid bitter bean water tastes better or worse is like arguing whether getting stabbed by a knife or a screwdriver is better or worse.

There, I said it.


And what about wine tasting, AMIRITE? No, I guess.
posted by ersatz at 2:44 PM on December 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ha, I get it. You guys actually go to coffee shops because of the coffee...
posted by iamck at 2:44 PM on December 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Starbucks arrived in the UK, by buying out the copycat local chain Seattle Coffee, around the time that my wife and I got together, and I have to say that she and I must have had a thousand coffees in there while out shopping, reading newspapers, relaxing somewhere more expansive than our tiny apartment, or waiting for each other.

I don't go into them much these days - more of a Caffe Nero man when I'm not near home, but they did bring about a big change.

There was a piece in the Economist the other week about how Starbucks doesn't operate in Italy. Not (just) for reasons of quality - McDonalds operates there, after all - but for reasons of cost. In Starbucks in Paris, an espresso costs €2 - pretty much anywhere in Italy an espresso is €1, tops.
posted by athenian at 2:45 PM on December 30, 2007


I like Starbucks, but I know there is much better stuff out there. Unfortunately, America just has crap coffee and 80% of the time Starbucks has the best coffee in town. Most mom & pop's have coffee that tastes worse, is more expensive and takes 20 minutes to make. I would support these coffee shops if they weren't so horrible. In London, Starbucks has lots of competition from other chains and that's pretty lacking in the US. There is Coffee Bean and some other ones, but not much, it's no wonder Starbucks does so well and since there is a whole class of people who define themselves as being anti Starbucks, but still buy into the mass coffee drinking that Starbucks brought with it, the other coffee places do pretty well also. If someone (like an Italian company) could get a chain off the ground in the US, I bet they would do amazingly well.
posted by whoaali at 2:51 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Starbucks moved in across the street from a local worker-owned and beloved coffee shop, which didn't affect the coffee shop as far as competition goes, but it was part of a gentrification plan that led to the indie coffee shop's rent getting, I'm told, doubled. Well, so they closed and moved to a different location. Etc., etc. The new location is actually closer to where I live these days, so I can't complain too much, I guess!
posted by Casuistry at 2:51 PM on December 30, 2007


WE BUILT THIS STARBUCKS ON HEART AND SOUL
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:10 PM on December 30, 2007


whoaali writes "If someone (like an Italian company) could get a chain off the ground in the US, I bet they would do amazingly well."

Possibly, but coffee shops here in italy don't exist any more, at least not in the reading-lounge, cosmopolitan european sense of the coffee-shop that I have seen attempted by Starbucks in some place in europe.

Possibily because they are too detached, impersonal and rituals such as meeting at 12 for a drink or at 17 for a tea probably survive in the rentier classes, but certainly are no longer popular.

The Bar scene, on the contrary survives thanks to the rituals of the morning coffee & cornetto, but usually it's a mom & pop very little store , smaller and a lot less psycologically "advanced" than the ideal pub of Cheers, but a good owner knows your name (not everybody , but still :) your tastes, you can eventually meet some of the others habitues and eventually chat very briefly, or finally not so briefly.

It just cannot be serialized, as being in the line with a Walmart Greeter reminds me of the movie idiocracy with the greeter saying "hello, welcome, I love you" like a broken tape. You can't chain extra courtesy, because the extra effort doesn't come for free, you need a little enterpreneur or a very well paid person to do that.

athenian writes "pretty much anywhere in Italy an espresso is €1, tops."

Well that's true , but it is also true that italians just don't appreciate much "long coffee" (american style) as we used to sip an intense coffee that is kind of a cream, it's a more of a shot of tequila than a glass of wine. Also, mcdonaldization of distribution wouldn't allow for personalization of service. The "smartest" mcdonald I saw, possibily an experiment, attempted to insert community tables with modernized style, much like OktoberFest , but with more posh style...but it just doesn't cut because the customer still wants to rush away.

Nah nah, lunch if for socialization not for running back to office. Life is too short.
posted by elpapacito at 3:21 PM on December 30, 2007


I, personally, define myself entirely by what I consume.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:58 PM on December 30, 2007 [9 favorites]


Whereas I, personally, I define myself inversely by what I excrete. "That," I say, pointing, "is what I am not." Fooosh.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:01 PM on December 30, 2007 [14 favorites]


At UNC, daily grind is good, and now has sbux as a neighbor in the basement of the Campus Y, and will soon have another. There are five other venues that serve specialty coffee drinks (that I know of) on campus. Daily Grind is the only one that's not hit-or-miss with their lattes.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 4:23 PM on December 30, 2007


it also helps that starbucks views competition as valuable to them. This may not be the case everywhere, but when my sister in law was manager at a starbucks, she was on a first name basis with the tully's manager across the street. There was no pricing wars or other cut throat practices.

the way she explained it to me is that with starbucks being as big as it is, there is a very real danger of it being seen as a predator.


Heh. Of course your sister-in-law is entitled to her own worldview, but I'm virtually certain that appearances are far, far down on the list of reasons that Starbucks doesn't participate in price wars.
posted by Kwantsar at 4:40 PM on December 30, 2007


Starbucks has clean bathrooms that anyone can use, which is a major plus.

But why oh why does Starbucks refuse to offer an adequate supply of ceramic 'for here' mugs? Coffee tastes better in a mug.

And if they do have 'for here' mugs, why are they so difficult to hold? The grip on the 'tall'-size ceramic mug is ridiculously small. The mug itself is quite wide, which means the coffee cools off very fast.

Plus, if you order an espresso at Starbucks, the 'barista' rarely warms the cup unless you tell them to do it.

However, if you travel in rural Canada or the US, good coffee is hard to come by, and Starbucks is like an oasis of civility (no Double Doubles for me, thanks).
posted by KokuRyu at 4:54 PM on December 30, 2007


That's all very well and good about Starbucks in Seattle, but here in Richmond, the Starbucks that opened three blocks from my home didn't increase the business at the independent coffee shop a few blocks away from there. So long, Wired (the former World Cup on Robinson).
posted by emelenjr at 4:55 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


And when in Vancouver, Bean Around the World is the place to drink coffee.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:58 PM on December 30, 2007


Clements Coffee have several shops in Belfast. They're incredibly popular. I started drinking coffee there when I saw their slogan, "we're religious about coffee".
posted by knapah at 5:11 PM on December 30, 2007


Starbucks coffee blows. Seattle's Best coffee rocks.
posted by caddis at 5:15 PM on December 30, 2007


beyond the issue of whether starbucks sucks, is there any truth to the assertion of this article?
or will i soon be reading that having a walmart open in the neighborhood will also be a great benefit to my favorite corner grocery?
just because their are lots of independents does not prove the authors point does it?
posted by dougiedd at 5:26 PM on December 30, 2007


There's a local coffee shop near the university here that has been established for a long time. It was announced that a Starbucks was going to open 150 feet away, and the owners were giddy. This place actually had a lunch menu, and the idea was that people who went to Starbucks for a coffee instead of them would still come in for lunch. And it's worked out nicely that way.
posted by azpenguin at 5:31 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I remember visiting Seattle, and the vast coffee-producing fields stretching as far as the eye can see. I am glad Seattle exports its coffee and has civilized the world so.
posted by Deep Dish at 5:41 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Everyone needs to eat: the customer base of grocery stores is as large as it is ever going to get (i.e., nearly 100% of the population). Not everyone drinks coffee: a Starbucks may create enough new coffee drinkers (who then visit other coffee shops) to offset the increased competition it brings.
posted by Pyry at 5:42 PM on December 30, 2007


There are no coffee shops in my neighborhood unless you count the diner/deli that closes at 3PM. If the presence of a Starbucks convinces Crazy Mocha or any of Pittsburgh's other fine independents to open up here, then bring it on.

On cross country trips I've found SB offers fairly consistently clean restrooms- unlike many interstate rest stops.
posted by pernoctalian at 5:47 PM on December 30, 2007


Interesting that their arrival seems to usually spell success for nearby competing businesses.

Well, for some of us, it's not an either / or. I get my first "starter" cup at the local cafe a 1/2 block north of my front gate when I'm walking the kidlets to school (not very good, but the pastries and food are excellent, and the owner buys my kids birthday and Christmas presents).

After I've dropped the kids, I loop east then south a block to Starbuck's - I find the straight coffee akin to drinking Sanka mixed with charcoal, but a venti mocha with whipped cream gets me going, and I'll generally bump into several people I know on their way to work. If the line is too long, I'll greet everyone I recognize then head a bit south to the wonderful KooKoo, where I'll indulge in a latte and continue my Arsenal vs. Chelsea banter with Ali, the co-owner, or chat with his co-owner wife Ellie (whose yoga studio does kid yoga at my daughter's old daycare) and catch up with stories about the offspring.

Once I'm at work it's an extra large (the aptly-named "Great One", cream and 5 packets of Splenda) from the Dunk and more friendly soccer banter with the Brazilians who own and staff the place.

I suppose my point is that it's all really about the neighborhood, not neccessarily the coffee you prefer. My point is NOT about the ungodly amount of money I must drop (I don't tally to avoid bursting into tears) and the truly unhealthy amount of coffee I consume. Variety my friends, variety...
posted by jalexei at 5:51 PM on December 30, 2007


I make my own coffee and bring it in a flask. I know it's nerdy but I don't care. Starbucks use cheapy-tasting beans and it's really watery and overpriced. I get mine mostly from Whittards and add a tiny dollop of neat rum to take away the flasky taste.
posted by grapefruitzzz at 5:54 PM on December 30, 2007


Me no like Starbucks. Sorry. It just has that Wal-Mart feel to it...trying to take over the world. Sort of like this one movie I watched about this family that has hijacked the wine industry in Europe. It kind of destroys the idea of "value in diversity." Not everyone likes a bitter, rancid coffee taste. Maybe someone else has something to offer. BTW, I've never seen a Starbucks advertising for another company. I have seen two small coffee shops go out of business within a year of a starbucks arriving very nearby. So this sounds like another brilliant marketing plan by....Starbucks!
posted by boots77 at 5:57 PM on December 30, 2007


Seattle's Best Coffee is a specialty coffee retailer and wholesaler based in Seattle, Washington, USA. It became part of Starbucks Corporation on July 14, 2003. Its international division is owned by FOCUS Brands, Inc.

Wikipedia
posted by Jikido at 6:46 PM on December 30, 2007


gauchodaspampas: Every starbucks does carry short cups.

Well then the good people of the Logan Airport Starbucks lied to me. This has happened to me a few times over the years that I've asked for short cappuccinos. The other place I definitely remember this happening was the Harvard Square Coop Starbucks.
posted by Kattullus at 6:49 PM on December 30, 2007


Not every Starbucks keeps its restroom open to everyone. There's one near the local theater hear that charges 25c for entrance. To the restroom....blame it on punk kids drawn by the theater, but seeing as my hometown isn't in Europe, I'm a little ticked at paying to use the necessity.

Also, the article has some great points on why Starbucks and WalMart, though both trying to take over the world, are in fact different. I might even go so far as to say that's *the* point of the article: in a purely accidental way (it's definitely not official company policy), Starbucks is friendly to competitors in ways that WalMart, being WalMart, cannot be.

Westwood hasn't reached saturation point, and there's a Starbucks every other block, a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on alternating blocks, at least one Peets, and three local-grown coffee shops within a four-square block radius. Granted, this directly feeds off the UCLA horde, but even so, that's a *lot* of coffee shops in so small a space...
posted by librarylis at 6:50 PM on December 30, 2007


Not every Starbucks carries short cups.

There was a trend towards phasing out short cups several years ago, and some stores chose to continue carrying short cups. However, one should still be able to order a short size, it would just be 8 ounces poured into a 12 ounce cup.
posted by wolfsleepy at 6:54 PM on December 30, 2007


The White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha is not kosher.

Kosher Starbucks
posted by Jikido at 6:56 PM on December 30, 2007


if you're in Los Angeles, drink up some Groundworks coffee. In addition to being the best I've had, all their coffees are fair-trade, they have lots of good pastries and bagels, and the service is very good. Starbucks I visit if there's nothing else around, and I have yet to like any of their pastries, too sweet for me.

Groundworks is my Coffee Dealer of Record :)
posted by shavenwarthog at 7:10 PM on December 30, 2007


Not every Starbucks keeps its restroom open to everyone.

No Starbucks I've ever seen has a community bulletin board where folks can post flyers announcing cool events in town.

That was pretty much a deal-breaker for me when Starbucks first came to town.
posted by mediareport at 7:14 PM on December 30, 2007


Why do I get strange looks when I order a large black coffee at places like Starbucks? I don't want your damned latte mochachino crap.

Ucchhh, this trope is so lame. For christ's sake, no you do NOT get strange looks when you order a "coffee" at a Starbucks, I stake my life on it. I usually only drink Starbucks at home and when traveling, so I'm pretty familiar with them. I order coffee, plain coffee, every single time. I know of what I speak.

Unless you're Jerry Seinfeld. Then you can get away with the "What's the deal with the half-caff-extra-hot-mochafrappucino-latte?" inanity.
posted by tristeza at 7:24 PM on December 30, 2007 [6 favorites]


Ucchhh, this trope is so lame. For christ's sake, no you do NOT get strange looks when you order a "coffee" at a Starbucks, I stake my life on it.

Yeah-huh!!!! Do so!!!!! I ordered a black coffee, and they kicked my ass out! When I tried to come back in, CHUCK NORRIS came from the back room and beat my ass to a pulp, then THREW me across the street, over traffic, through the plate glass window of McDonald's while yelling "Get your damn black coffee at CLOWNVILLE you cheap-ass no-class PWT!!!!!"

Then McDonald's wanted me to buy the Vanilla Iced Coffee.

It was good!
posted by The Deej at 7:33 PM on December 30, 2007


We had the same conversation 5 years ago.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:34 PM on December 30, 2007


I have to second KokuRyu's statement, Starbucks are absolutely wonderful because they all have clean public restrooms. If you lived in NYC before they became ubiquitous, then you know what a Godsend they are to have around now.
posted by cazoo at 7:41 PM on December 30, 2007


No Starbucks I've ever seen has a community bulletin board where folks can post flyers announcing cool events in town.

I just placed a flyer advertising a kids concert benefiting my daughter's school at mine - how "cool" an event this might be is certainly open to debate, but there's definitely a community bulletin board at some locations.

For christ's sake, no you do NOT get strange looks when you order a "coffee" at a Starbucks

Seriously, in fact the staff at mine are so 'effin slooooooow (their only real shortcoming in my eyes, being decent drink makers and invariably friendly) they'll be seriously thankful when you order "just" coffee and speed the line that threatens to match the first day of ticket sales at Fenway.

It just has that Wal-Mart feel to it...trying to take over the world.

Can't argue pe se - I just find that other factors, mainly that (despite the expected high turnover of retail and the "speed" issue noted above) the staff are people I recognize and mostly like, it's a meeting place for neighbors I enjoy bumping into, and that on the infrequent occasions I spend a large chunk of the day working from there it's a comfortable space all help me overlook the whole soulless-corporation angle - maybe that's a shortcoming. As a Greater-Bostonian with the per-capita consumption ratio that entails, I'd probably bleed Dunkin Donuts orange and pink if cut open, but has anyone ever really wanted to spend time in one?
posted by jalexei at 7:48 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey! I've never had a Starbucks coffee!

However, I don't know if making that statement makes me lame, cheap, edgy, anti-establishment, unsophisticated, or none/all of the above. I'm not trying to be any of them, I've just never had a Starbucks coffee.

I had a good little cup of coffee at a Cuban restaurant in Miami once. It was really strong but very tasty and actually drinkable, and I was really impressed, but I've never been compelled to try to replicate the experience.
posted by yhbc at 7:50 PM on December 30, 2007


It's is NOT CHEAP, it is just Coffee without - marketing, packaging, advertising, real estate , first class seats, expensive restaurants for bosses , on YOUR bill.

Really? Your coffee comes without packaging or marketing? You grow your own?

I once had coffee that came without packaging, as it had been grown and roasted in the garden of the house where I was staying. Deeelish. But not really practical for that daily cup.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:59 PM on December 30, 2007


We had the same conversation 5 years ago.

DOUBLE venti raspberry mocha!
posted by The Deej at 8:04 PM on December 30, 2007


Why do I get strange looks when I order a large black coffee at places like Starbucks?

Every Thursday morning at 6:30, when I get my one coffee drink all week, there's always someone in line who orders "coffee." And the baristas reach over to the drip coffee maker and fill up their cup. No bad looks.

In London, Starbucks has lots of competition from other chains and that's pretty lacking in the US.

Actually, there's lots of competition on the Left Coast.

At Queen Anne and Boston in Seattle, there are now three different chains on the corner (SBUX, Tully's, Peet's) along with a local chain (Ladro) a couple doors north, a coffee cart in the Safeway across the street, and a couple of other local coffee carts a couple blocks south.

Elsewhere in town, SBUX goes up against Caffe Verite (aka Cupcake Royale) and Portland import Stumptown. And there's this new chain called Chicka Latte... the Hooters of coffee carts.

Sure, in Wichita or Moline there's virtually no competition with SBUX, but is there competition in Swindon or Stoke-on-Trent?
posted by dw at 8:08 PM on December 30, 2007


I read a story of a successful, privately owned, well loved coffee shop that refused to sell out to Starbucks. His landlord said don't worry. Then one day boxes showed up that contained shirts and supplies for Starbucks employees. He immediately went to his landlord who sheepishly told him that Starbucks gave him a great offer. Goodby community supporting, local Mom&Pop. What this article underplays (even as it says it) is that Starbucks will do everything in their power to run the competition out of business. Yes, sometimes it backfires, but that doesn't suddenly make them the good guys.
posted by eye of newt at 8:12 PM on December 30, 2007


It's funny... Starbucks continues to fail to make any inroads in this area (middle of CT). There are a few if you feel like driving, but it's 10 miles to the nearest one. Compare to Dunkin Donuts, which has 20 locations within 5 miles of where I sit. Which even I think is excessive.
posted by smackfu at 8:13 PM on December 30, 2007


I'm really surprised that the gourmet coffee trend has sustained for so long. I worked in the gourmet coffee business in 1991 at The Second Cup, which is Starbucks' main competition in Canada. You can usually find a Second Cup within a few hundred yards of a Starbucks, which means that there really is not a lot of room for the independents around where I live.

I love the aroma when it's not intrusive, but coffee is some smelly stuff. Weird memory: At Second Cup we'd often have to grind several pounds of coffee beans into pre-packaged bags to be sold within a few days. After coming home from grinding coffee, my urine would have the strongest coffee odor for about 12 hours. I guess I was breathing in the coffee?

That job was strange... on one hand I was usually pissed off at the repetition of dealing with customers, especially being forced to attempt upsells regardless of context, or when it became obvious which type of people will ask which predictably stupid or rhetorical question next. On the other hand, I was 15 and 16 and it was the first business that handed me the keys and let me do the night deposits. Often I'd be the only person working in the shop for a five hour stretch. I took real pride in that. I made a point of keeping the place spotless and treating every customer like they might be a secret shopper. I did steal the occasional cookie, but we usually ended up giving some of every batch of pastries away to homeless shelters every couple days. I can vouch that, at least in the early nineties, The Second Cup was pretty dilligent about quality and especially freshness of the product.
posted by autodidact at 8:49 PM on December 30, 2007


Yeah, weebot, agreed - Coffee Bean is a pretty big chain, especially in Asia - not really a 'independent mom-and-pop coffee shop'.

Also, the article seems geared towards a suburban drive-your-car-there dynamic. Cafes/coffeeshops in Manhattan suck. I know of only 5 really good non-Starbucks cafes in Manhattan (that's from Inwood to Tribeca), not counting those restaurants named 'caffes' which actually serve $15 lunch entrees. I attribute this to high rent, and the fact that deli coffee, while being super-sugary, is actually kinda nice.
posted by suedehead at 8:51 PM on December 30, 2007


There was a piece in the Economist the other week about how Starbucks doesn't operate in Italy. Not (just) for reasons of quality - McDonalds operates there, after all - but for reasons of cost.

Paradoxically, McDonald's in Italy offered espresso drinks quite a while before they did in the states. I had one in Rome just over a year ago, and it wasn't too damned bad.

or will i soon be reading that having a walmart open in the neighborhood will also be a great benefit to my favorite corner grocery?

You can't compare the two, other than in ubiquity -- totally different business models. Wal-Mart kills local stores by low-balling the shit out of them. Starbucks depends on its brand image, period (OMG STARBUCKS IS COMING! is often a big deal in a small town). Since they're not offering their coffees at a substantially cheaper cost, they're really not doing anything so much as stimulating that market in places where it's dormant.

I've seen it happen in the town of my birth, a very small town smack in the middle of Missouri. Coffee houses were unheard of there until Starbucks moved in, and then boom, suddenly there were locally owned coffee houses opening and prospering. People started with the brand name, and then when the local places opened they figured, hey, let's check them out, and discovered that their stuff was at least as good for at least as cheap.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:51 PM on December 30, 2007


Arguing that Starbucks makes good coffee is a bit like arguing that KFC makes good chicken. What appeals to the greatest number is rarely the best.

I went to a KFC in Indonesia, and the chicken there was fucking fantastic.

Honest to god, it was really good.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 8:56 PM on December 30, 2007


KFC seems to be one of the most popular exported brands. I guess people really like fried chicken.
posted by smackfu at 9:10 PM on December 30, 2007



No Starbucks I've ever seen has a community bulletin board where folks can post flyers announcing cool events in town.


You should come by my local Starbucks. It's like the neighborhood community center, really.

I live in Seattle and have a long list of indy shops I like and patronize, but I've got to hand it to Starbucks. They were the first major company to bet on my neighborhood and remain the only coffee shop in the 'hood.
posted by donovan at 9:16 PM on December 30, 2007


That's all very well and good about Starbucks in Seattle, but here in Richmond, the Starbucks that opened three blocks from my home didn't increase the business at the independent coffee shop a few blocks away from there. So long, Wired (the former World Cup on Robinson).

I live in Richmond as well and I have to disagree with Wired. I loved World Cup when it was on Robinson, so when it became Wired, I gave it a shot. It was fucking horrible, and I'm really not that hard to please. I never went back and I know a lot of people felt the same way I did, that is why they weren't open very long. Did they even last a year? Their bad coffee coupled with their rude baristas didn't help either. It's not like I want a grinning fool to serve me my coffee, but I don't want you to look at me with a snide glare either.

Common Groundz on Broad St. has excellent coffee and the owners there are very knowledgeable about coffee and are extremely friendly without being fake. They also serve Bev's icecream which is always a plus. I also go to Crossroads off of Main St. They're coffee is mediocre but they have a great selection of snacks and food.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:18 PM on December 30, 2007


My office has a Jura, which we feed with Illy. On the weekend, when I need a fix, it's close to my house, so I just stop by. Lucky me.
posted by ogre at 11:31 PM on December 30, 2007


you might want to start looking for an empty storefront next to your local

look at how many Starbucks there are in Manhattan (Like at Astor Place, where you can be in one Starbucks and wave to your friend in the one diagonally across the street!), while at the same time smaller places still do very well for themselves.


Let’s face it, today most people hate waiting in a line. So it seems, people seeing a shorter line nearby will create the business too.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:42 PM on December 30, 2007


Coffee is not a drug. It is a scaly green slime that is covering the earth.
posted by telstar at 12:23 AM on December 31, 2007


Hmm, put me down as another person who's never had a Starbucks coffee. I've had their hot chocolate ONCE because I was meeting someone there and felt bad sitting there without ordering anything. It was amazing, but the price tag is hellishly scary to a student. Not that Second Cup is much better for price, but I do occasionally get freebies at work, so that's my gourmet coffee of choice. Second Cup's coffee is stronger than most places I've been to, which works out excellently for me - after drinkign homebrew for a few months, getting a coffee at Timmy's seems weird since it's so weak.
posted by Phire at 12:49 AM on December 31, 2007


or will i soon be reading that having a walmart open in the neighborhood will also be a great benefit to my favorite corner grocery?

No, because the grocery market is very hard to expand, so Wal*Mart's business is to ensure that they take the share of the market that belongs to other companies. Also, grocery is a low-margin business, so mom and pop stores can't take the profit hit.

Starbucks' arrival can expand the market for good coffee shops, thus bringing benefits to all (including themselves). Starbucks are taking their slice of cake, but the cake is bigger.
posted by athenian at 1:45 AM on December 31, 2007


The corpse in the library writes "Really? Your coffee comes without packaging or marketing? You grow your own?"

I wish :) I'd be a rich land owner.

No really, obviously there is always some level of packaging , marketing and advertising in any product , but there are different expenses. I don't need to pay for a coffee that is known to anybody and their neighbors , thanks to an intensive advertisting campaing, or endorsed by anybody. I don't need it to come in a relatively expensive, massive glass jar or in a solid tin can, I can live with tinfoil / tetrapack / younameit and then move it to one glass jar, not incurring in all the expense of moving bulky glass/tin. I don't need to pay the real estate costs of the starbuck chain, I'll do with some well organized efficient warehouses.

I do need the coffee to NOT contain harmful substances or flavor enhancers, just to name two properties. I do need my wage to allow me to buy coffee, so it must be relatively inexpensive and affordable and not $5 a cup of flavored hot water, that probably costs SB less than $1 , even if they dress the accounting so that it seems they are so generously supporting the life of a million people, whereas they are doing it only because there is an immense profit to be made out of selling at $5 stuff that costs a lot less.
posted by elpapacito at 1:51 AM on December 31, 2007



Really? Your coffee comes without packaging or marketing? [...] not really practical for that daily cup.

Mine does and it's very practical. One of our local shops has several big glass jars full of beans with 'Peru' 'Colombia' 'Costa Rica' or whatever, plus a brief description of the roast, as the only information on them. You scoop them into a clear plastic bag, weigh them and take them to the checkout. No idea what brand they are at all. Ok, the shop probably does a bit of marketing, but the coffee itself is about as unmarketed as you can get at the point of sale, I think.
posted by ComfySofa at 1:56 AM on December 31, 2007


Meh. It's just coffee.
Not worth getting so worked up about.
posted by signal at 4:52 AM on December 31, 2007


The cafe my mum goes to practically every day is going to be replaced by a Starbucks. It's one of those in-house places at the local supermarket, so nobody's going to be opening a sensible, normal place next door.

It remains to be seen if she gets over the stupid names ("I just want a fucking coffee!") or the stupid prices (what does 90p get you at a Starbucks? A glass of tapwater?), but I'm not sure I've met anyone in the UK who really appreciates them. Especially in this not terribly affluent area.
posted by Freaky at 5:54 AM on December 31, 2007


Meh. It's just coffee.
Not worth getting so worked up about.


How dare you?!?!?

HOW DARE YOU!??!?

Actually, ya, I don't drink it enough that it matters to me one way or the other. Starbucks does not represent Evil Upon the Earth. It's this place where you can get coffee.
posted by The Deej at 6:05 AM on December 31, 2007


Counterintuitive premise -- I love it.

Also, the people who don't like coffee are dead to me. For two weeks.
posted by evil holiday magic at 6:53 AM on December 31, 2007


KFC seems to be one of the most popular exported brands. I guess people really like fried chicken.

Interesting. Maybe because there aren't any restrictions against eating chicken that I can think of (in non-vegetarian cultures anyway)? Cow, pig, horse, etc. aren't as universally acceptable.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:55 AM on December 31, 2007


KFC seems to be one of the most popular exported brands. I guess people really like fried chicken.

When I went to Jamaica in 1981, I was looking forward to experiencing a new and exotic culture. The first thing I saw in the airport when I got off the plane was Kentucky Fried Chicken.
posted by The Deej at 7:07 AM on December 31, 2007


KFC was very very early in the game and has a far reaching head start on globalization. The Colonel was a shrewd businessman.

My problem with Starbucks is their complete horse-shit "comittment to sustainable development" crap that they try to shill along with their overpriced, shitty coffee. Those fuckers are the biggest roadblock to progress in sustainable, organic and shade-grown coffee on earth. They come in and find all the farmers in a region doing things the right way, give them the stamp of approval and then head back to Seattle and start calling in the orders. The contracts stipulate that growers fulfill orders or lose contracts so the farmers make sure to fulfill orders, but going back to raping the earth with pesticides, slash and burn, fertilizers, etc.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:34 AM on December 31, 2007


I remember living in the Boston area starting in 1991, and getting my coffee from The Coffee Connection, which was a local chain owned/run by George Howell. The coffee there was so much better than every other place around it wasn't even a contest. Then in 1994 Howell sold the chain to Starbucks, who promised to maintain the Coffee Connection name and way of doing things. They kept their promise for all of about a year, IIRC, and then converted all of the stores to regular old Starbucks locations.

I still haven't forgiven Starbucks for that.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:58 AM on December 31, 2007


Um... I can see how someone from Seattle's Best might say that, considering Seattle's Best is OWNED by Starbucks. C'mon people.
posted by fatllama at 8:46 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm just confused as to how many damned coffee shops there can be. In many parts of London, (Upper Street in Islington is a good example) it seems that every time a store closes down, a coffee shop (whether it's Caffe Nero, Starbucks or whatever) springs up in its place. How long can we sustain an economy built on the foundations of coffee bean futures, low paid labour in the 'service' industry and mountains of waste thrown into the bin on a daily basis?

That said, I do confess to a weakness for a black americano.

posted by Myeral at 9:18 AM on December 31, 2007


It was very gratifying to me to see a Starbucks open on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, and then close several years later. Starbucks, you can't touch this.
posted by pantload at 9:26 AM on December 31, 2007


I'm going to troll anyone who doesn't agree with me, using weird non sequitors!

WHOOO WHOO, I AM A RAILROAD.

I'm a Rhode Islander, so my heart belongs to Dunkin Donuts.

Little Rhody, represent! And you have to get it EXTRA EXTRA.

Also, this thread is the first I have seen of grapefruitzzz - is imitation the highest form of flattery, or is there a clone army out to get me? Only time will tell...
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:27 AM on December 31, 2007


Meh. It's just coffee.
Not worth getting so worked up about.


Yeah, just coffee.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:25 AM on December 31, 2007


We got a fancy espresso maker from Starbucks for our wedding and it was the first gift we returned because in my household coffee is not a drink but a place. It is where I go when I need to get away from the internet and get some work done. One climate controlled place is as good as another as long as there are comfy chairs.
posted by Alison at 10:28 AM on December 31, 2007


Starbucks sells expensive espresso machines but for good espresso machines you need to shop elsewhere. Their top-of-the-line Barista was nearly as expensive as my Silvia but nowhere near as capable.

My only gripe with Starbucks is that while they're pretty consistent (more so with the new superautomatics) they're only mediocre at best and generally much worse.
posted by briareus at 1:11 PM on December 31, 2007


Heh. That Just Coffee link is crowing about transparency, and then says a good 30% of the cost is "overhead". More than it costs to grow the actual coffee.
posted by smackfu at 1:23 PM on December 31, 2007


I wonder what effect this has on Starbucks across the street from Starbucks, perhaps an endless loop of prosperity?
posted by phirleh at 1:59 PM on December 31, 2007


"But instead of panicking, he decided to call his friend Jim Stewart, founder of the Seattle's Best Coffee chain, to find out what really happens when a Starbucks opens nearby. 'You're going to love it,' Stewart reported. 'They'll do all of your marketing for you, and your sales will soar.'

"Yeah, whatever you do, don't let them buy you out!"


Jim Stewart wasn't the one who sold SBC to SBUX. SBC was sold to AFC Enterprises in 1998, and AFC then sold it to Starbucks later. (I believe Stewart did stay with the company during the AFC years, though. I'm not sure if he left when Starbucks took over.)
posted by litlnemo at 5:58 AM on January 1, 2008


I agree with you about World Cup vs. Wired, MaryD. When World Cup moved closer to VCU, that was too far of a walk for me. The fact that a new coffee shop moved into the space previously occupied by a coffee shop was really the only thing that kept me going back there.

Nice to see another Richmonder around here.
posted by emelenjr at 3:24 PM on January 1, 2008


Nice to see another Richmonder around here.

The logo in the main picture of your myspace is my work logo, btw.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 11:59 PM on January 1, 2008


I liked Starbucks when you could drink a cup of their regular coffee and it would make you pee out almost every last once of water in your body, leaving you a dehydrated husk. The coffee had a really weird spicy quality to it, too. At first I didn't like the bitter/spicy taste, but I grew to really like it.

Now, their coffee has been toned down, and I don't like it as much. I pretty much just brew my own. When my coffee machine broke I discovered that I really like *boiling* my coffee for a minute or two before poring it into a filter. It gets a lot more fine sediment into the cup, which IMHO, gives it a nicer texture. Also, it's more bitter and comes closer to that spicy quality of early Starbucks coffee.
posted by webnrrd2k at 10:10 AM on January 2, 2008


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