"How Much Starbucks is Too Much?"
August 1, 2002 11:12 AM   Subscribe

"How Much Starbucks is Too Much?" This article predicts that our favourite caffeine pushers could double the number of outlets in the US without saturating the market. Pretty graphs, but has anyone told this guy about Starbucks' more sinister plans? warning, second link = Onion story
posted by nprigoda (31 comments total)
Friends Don't Let Friends Go To Starbucks!!!
posted by illusionaire at 11:20 AM on August 1, 2002

Friends Don't Let Friends Go To Starbucks!!!
posted by illusionaire at 11:24 AM on August 1, 2002

Starbucks is evil, but nothing beats the evilness of the regulars at my local Starbucks. Talk about taking coffee way too seriously...!
posted by catfood at 11:30 AM on August 1, 2002

Well, someone's feeling a tad Starbucked.
posted by adampsyche at 11:33 AM on August 1, 2002

*$ didn't pay for all of that product placement in The Spy Who Shagged Me? while i find that hard to believe, this review of the movie makes a very good point:

"Using Starbucks Coffee to achieve world domination is a brilliant concept, not because it's new, but because so many of us feel that's what they are trying to do already."

while Charbuck's novelty has worn off a bit, i have to conceed my addiction for their ice cream. soooooo good it's downright evil.
posted by brigita at 11:41 AM on August 1, 2002

Did someone say Charbucks?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:45 AM on August 1, 2002

When I was employed by Starbucks, I had full medical coverage (as a part-time employee), regular raises, free coffee (which I got sick of pretty fast), extensive training, the opportunity to rise through the ranks if I wanted: all things that every other coffee shop that I worked at (and every other retail job I’ve ever had) denied me. I was even part of a union.

Also, it’s been a few years since I wore the green apron, but I can safely say that when I was behind the counter, the quality was above and beyond any other coffee shop. That's why I'm still a customer. Maybe their business practices need some work, but point out a large food-service chain that doesn’t.

Point being, there are worse things to have happen than Starbucks coming to your town.
posted by monkeymike at 11:54 AM on August 1, 2002

Oh hell.
posted by monkeymike at 11:54 AM on August 1, 2002

If Starbucks can make it here, it can make it anywhere. We are doomed to a life of corporate coffee conformity.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 12:03 PM on August 1, 2002

I've worked there too, and while I can't deny that the material conditions are somewhat better than at some other coffee houses, I was deeply dissatified with the job and grew to hate it.

I think perhaps I had a problem with it because the attraction of Starbucks is the same as the attraction of, say, McDonald's, or any other food chain. Sameness. The fact that you can go and get the exact same thing at a Kansas City store as at a Seattle store. It's enforced in the training, which tells you the exact amount of time it should take to pull an espresso, for example (I think it was 1 min, 31 seconds, but it's been awhile). The kind of coffee shop I like develops its own, local way of doing things, to serve a particular local community.

And the coffee kinda sucks. It's burnt.
posted by lackutrol at 12:03 PM on August 1, 2002

Hear hear, monkeymike. People who rip on Starbucks citing the "world domination" theory need to do their homework. For a big company, Starbucks does a lot more for its employees than most.
posted by dayvin at 12:06 PM on August 1, 2002

I like the Mocha Valencia. Yummm...coffee, choklit, and orange--all wrapped up as one...
posted by ColdChef at 12:10 PM on August 1, 2002

I have friends who work there who enjoy the benefits, but when they aren't working and they have a choice, they drink their coffee elsewhere.

I won't go completely into my Anti-Starbucks manifesto, but as a consumer I have a choice, and I choose not to drink Starbucks.

Yeah, it does taste burnt.

Hooray for indie coffeehouses!
posted by illusionaire at 12:36 PM on August 1, 2002

Wow. The Onion link has some sort of cap on it. When did they start that?
posted by Marquis at 12:38 PM on August 1, 2002

What pisses me off about Starbucks is that it has achieved domination - in London at least - not through being better than any other coffee shop but just by buying up real estate. I know this because before Starbucks arrived there were a dozen Starbucks clones that did exactly the same thing but are now disappearing. I don't mourn their disappearance, I blame Starbucks for their existence in the first place. Now the clones are being ousted by the original because it has the money to do that and because people can't tell the difference between it and Coffee Republic, Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee etc etc etc.

Now, unless you're right in the centre of London, you can't buy a coffee unless it's a variation on the Starbucks pint of coffee-flavoured milkshake. The only alternative is small Italian cafes that will give you a decent sized cappuccino which actually has a fair amount of coffee in it. I'm hoping the Starbucks style shops are just an over-priced fad that will disappear.
posted by Summer at 12:52 PM on August 1, 2002

When I first moved to New York City in 1991, I remember being irritated at not being able to consistently find a good, relatively inexpensive cup of coffee -- the options were basically either an overpriced, tiny cappuccino at some West Village cafe or (blech) deli coffee. (I'm from Boston, where the reigning, near-ubiquitous coffee purveyor used to be Coffee Connection -- long since swallowed by Starbucks, of course, who also co-opted the Coffee Connection Frappuccino as their own.)

So it is nice to be able to get a decent cup of coffee here in NYC just about anywhere now, but that store saturation chart just confirmed how there are just too many damned Starbucks now. Within a one-block radius of 34th St and 7th Ave there are no fewer than four, incl. two that are directly across the street from each other. Ridiculous.

Of course, I can't complain too much since I live right around the corner from a great local coffee place where I can get my large hazelnut coffee every morning for just $1.25.
posted by nstop at 12:59 PM on August 1, 2002

I get tired of hearing this sort of crap day after day, particularly because I live in Seattle. As far as I'm concerned, coffee is coffee, and I frequently have better things to do with $4 than buy an overpriced cup of it. However, a lot of you whine about the demise of your favorite local community-loved mom-and-pop homebrewed coffee shops with the advent of Starbucks.

Here's a clue: if your favorite local mom-and-pop was so beloved by the community, they wouldn't have closed down when Starbucks moved into town. Quality, consistency, and word-of-mouth trump ubiquity, particularly in situations where a place of business has existed for years prior to receiving some competition.

Maybe, just maybe, people like the taste Starbucks coffee more than that which is being served at the mom-and-pop. Don't blame Starbucks because consumer interest waned in the face of alternatives.

As far as this woman goes, bullshit. Her coffee shop has only been open for 17 months, and she's clearly attempting to capitalize on the popularity of Starbucks in both name and product. Trademark dilution is trademark dilution, regardless of how long you've had a nickname. If everyone back in high school used to call me "Zerox", and I knowingly founded a company named "Zerox" that produces business equipment, playing naive wouldn't help my case one iota.

If you like your local beanery, feel free to continue patronizing it. Just stop bemoaning a successful company because people enjoy their product, as if there is some vast corporo-governmental conspiracy to undermine Uncle Fred's Java Wonderland.
posted by Danelope at 1:04 PM on August 1, 2002

Right on, Danelope! Starbucks, Wal-Mart and McDonald's. What else do we need in life?
posted by TBoneMcCool at 1:21 PM on August 1, 2002

Now I really want to open my own coffee place just so I can call it Uncle Fred's Java Wonderland.
posted by lackutrol at 1:48 PM on August 1, 2002

Still waiting for someone to break a story about bad corporate accounting at Starbucks...
SEATTLE - In the interests of increased efficiency, Howard Schultz, chairman of Starbucks, announced yesterday that the chain was cutting back its menu to just two beverages: coffee, and coffee with milk. "Frankly," Schultz added, "that's all we've been offering all along. Macchiato, latte, cappuccino - they're all the same damn thing. We can't believe nobody's picked up on this."
posted by illusionaire at 2:03 PM on August 1, 2002

before Starbucks arrived there were a dozen Starbucks clones that did exactly the same thing but are now disappearing.

Well, the Seattle Coffee Company was set up by a bunch of expats who realised they had a chance to get in before Starbucks targetted the UK. They sold out to Starbucks as soon as it did, in best dot-com style. But we're getting close to 'coffee event horizon' in central London right now, though Coffee Republic is having to shut a fifth of its shops to recoup debts. I'm ambivalent about Pret-A-Manger on every street as well, given that it makes me lazy whenever I'm in the West End: it's better than going to one of the shitty places on Oxford Street or Leicester Square, but I'd sooner hunt out somewhere decent in Soho or Cov. Garden. (Bar Italia, Summer! Staggering distance from the Coach.)
posted by riviera at 2:21 PM on August 1, 2002

The Onion link has some sort of cap on it.

The Onion, as a whole, appears to have gone down.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:14 PM on August 1, 2002

I like starbucks. I PREFER the 'indie' coffeeshops. I love discovering independent coffee shops with interesting colors and personalities. Thankfully, there are still quite a few of them in Bay area. In downtown campbell, almost everyone I know still prefers Orchard valley cafe over starbucks which has a slightly forlorn look about it.

But there are many places where Starbucks meet a need. The ones attached with B&N (yes, I go there too) are really a blessing. There is nothing like curling up there with a book that I can't afford to buy.

There was also an article in WSJ a few days back on the profitability of Starbucks. The writer was also surprised that so many people are still buying coffee there in this down economy.
posted by justlooking at 4:14 PM on August 1, 2002

There is nothing like curling up there with a book that I can't afford to buy.

The Starbucks located in Chapters (up here in Canada) cracked down on that. If you haven't paid for it, stay outta the coffeeshop. They also removed EVERY SINGLE chair from the bookstore, so if you want to read a book, you have to stand.
posted by monkeymike at 4:34 PM on August 1, 2002

Once you start making your own, Starbucks quickly loses it's appeal.
posted by Chief Typist at 4:42 PM on August 1, 2002

Ah, Gaggia. In earlier coffeeshop days, I used one of the professional models, which was really cool and perhaps caused a harmful addiction to high-quality kitchen equipment. But the really great one is this baby.
posted by lackutrol at 7:36 PM on August 1, 2002

The Starbucks located in Chapters (up here in Canada) cracked down on that.

I guess that is only fair. But I think removing chairs from the bookshop are slightly stupid. A place to sit and browse is one of the prime differentiators between the bookstore chains and small independent bookshops (apart from size of course).

....thanks for the coffeegeek link! Now that is a novel concept.
posted by justlooking at 7:54 PM on August 1, 2002

Bar Italia, Summer! Staggering distance from the Coach

Fantastic lattes.
posted by Summer at 1:33 AM on August 2, 2002

I learned to love Starbucks when they took over the local train station (which remains a train station), rennovated and air conditioned it.

Starbucks in NYC are contemptable, but outside the City, no problemo.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:15 AM on August 2, 2002

I've found that most people who whine about Starbucks are just like people who whine about Wal-Mart. It's politically correct to complain about it, but they still shop there every chance they get because they think they're saving a couple of dimes.

I don't really care about Starbucks because I don't drink coffee or hang out in coffeehouses.
posted by mark13 at 9:38 AM on August 2, 2002

$4 for coffee explains a lot about what is wrong with our nation.
posted by drstrangelove at 7:24 PM on August 4, 2002

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