More Starbucks News – Beer & Wine

October 18, 2010 · Filed Under Coffee Industry, Gimmicks, Industry Insight, Publicity, Retailers · Comment 

(From USA Today) – Here we go again.

Starbucks remakes its future with an eye on beer and wine

By Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY

…A very different kind of Starbucks is on tap. It will serve regional wine and beer. It offers an expansive plate of locally made cheeses — served on china. The barista bar is rebuilt to seat customers up close to the coffee.

Most conspicuously, the place looks less like a Starbucks and more like a cafe that’s been part of the neighborhood for years — yet that’s “green” in design and decor. This is the calling card of independent java joints that have been eating and sipping away at Starbucks’ evening business for decades. U.S. Starbucks stores get 70% of business before 2 p.m…. more…

More signs of an identity crisis, or a case of “If you can’t beat ‘em, Join ‘em?”  I just can’t help but think that Starbucks is clamoring for more attention.  Is this more of the same, or will this turn into a new format?  Remember Starbucks independent knock-off cafes?  Like 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea?  Will it last?  Will it fizzle?  Will this be a one-or-tw0-location-spinnoff in an effort to gain organic media attention in place of shameless advertising?

Only time will tell.  Is it a good idea?  I personally think that it depends on the neighborhood.  You don’t want people getting drunk in your neighborhood “upscale” coffee house… do you?  (perhaps a topic for a future post)

Are you are tired of Starbucks news as we are?

Starbucks Baristas Told to Slow Down – WSJ

October 14, 2010 · Filed Under Industry, News · Comment 

Photo by - Allison Joyce for The Wall Street Journal

Starbucks Corp. is telling its harried baristas to slow down—which may result in longer lines.

Amid customer complaints that the Seattle-based coffee chain has reduced the fine art of coffee making to a mechanized process with all the romance of an assembly line, Starbucks baristas are being told to stop making multiple drinks at the same time and focus instead on no more than two drinks at a time—starting a second one while finishing the first, according to company documents reviewed recently by The Wall Street Journal.

Baristas are also supposed to steam milk for each drink rather than steaming an entire pitcher to be used for several beverages. Other instructions include rinsing pitchers after each use; staying at the espresso bar instead of moving around; and using only one espresso machine instead of two, according to the documents. (lots)more…

Is Starbucks trying to prove that it has a soul?  Is it trying to convey the notion that they actually care about the quality of their drinks?  Yes.. but that isn’t the question at the heart of the matter.  The real question isn’t whether or not a notion is being conveyed.  The real question is whether or not the notion being conveyed is true.

Just for kicks, I googled (is it a real word yet?) “Wall Street Journal Starbucks” and this was the result.

Click for Full Size

The top link is the current news.  The second link is a direct non-news link to the story.  The third link is a direct non-news link to WSJ’s coverage of Starbucks’ “Plunge Into Instant Coffee”.  Now, maybe it’s just me, but isn’t there something wrong with this picture?  The fact that Starbucks has been in a bit of an identity crisis lately is no real surprise.  A company cannot be all things to all people, and yet that is exactly what Starbucks appears to be attempting to do.

Let’s be clear.  I do not hate Starbucks.  A lot of great coffee professionals got their start at the Siren.  They have taken the idea of coffee as a non-commodity affordable luxury to places where it might not have been successfully introduced otherwise.  Their ubiquitous presence has caused a mass education of the masses, a readily available phony status symbol, an addiction to the combination of sugar, fat, and coffee to the point of a country getting mad at the seller of said products instead of taking responsibility for their own actions, and an enormous population of people who have come to believe that there is such a thing as an industry standard (a part of which is such a thing as the dreaded “Caramel Macchiato”).

It would be fantastic if the coffee giant were to suddenly focus on quality in a tangible sense.  I see this as more of a publicity stunt.  An attempt to make the public see them as something they maybe once were, but certainly are not now.

Frankly, I don’t give a rip if my double short wet cappuccino (leave a good inch of room, please) takes five seconds or fifteen minutes: as long as it is properly made.

Instant Coffee: Sign of the times?

February 16, 2009 · Filed Under Industry, Industry ethics, Products · 3 Comments 

Starbucks to begin selling instant coffee

Full Story | San Francisco Chronicle

(02-12) 15:06 PST New York (AP) –
Starbucks Corp. said Thursday it will unveil a new instant coffee as part of its attempt to turn around sluggish sales and shed its reputation for pricey lattes.
The company has been working on the product for more than 20 years and has a patent pending on the technology that will allow it to “absolutely replicate the taste of Starbucks coffee in an instant form,” spokesman Vivek Varma said in an e-mail to employees.

Varma said Starbucks will offer details of the new instant coffee, reportedly called Via, beginning next week. Samples will be arriving in stores on Wednesday, he said.

Great.. Instant Starbucks.  Sounds.. hmm.. I’m not sure how that sounds.

Howard Schultz plans to make the announcement tomorrow, with the product ending up on shelves sometime this week.  They are also working on a “value breakfast pairing for $3.95″. (See Starbucks Newsroom article)

They’ve denied it not too long ago, but I think now it’s safe to call it official.

The siren has lost its soul.  Some refer to McDonald’s in making sense of this, but not in the way that you think.

McDonald’s is not in the restaurant or burger business.  They are in the real estate business, and they happen to run restaurants too.

Starbucks is not in the coffee business.  They are in the lifestyle business.  They sell status imagery  via coffee.  When the customers can no longer afford to buy status imagery, or when they no loner see the value in it, the company is bound to shrink.

The question is this.  How bad is the situation for Starbucks?

Random Picture Friday #3: They're Everywhere!

February 6, 2009 · Filed Under Just for fun, Random Picture Friday, Retailers, TX-Coffee · Comment 



And while they have cut back their plans to open 200 new stores down to 120, they have plans to close down 300 additional stores since the last decision to close down about 600 stores.  (source)

While it may seem like the independents are winning, keep your eyes open.  Starbucks didn’t get where they are from being unattentive.  EEK!

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