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Starbucks: Good or Evil?

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Edited to say that website with the survey is hilarious.

URL, please?

Your wish is my command.

Thank you!

--Your Neighborhood Lame Pseudo-Sophisticate, heading off to the couch with V8 in hand

Edited to add: The Oracle got this much right--I don't curse a lot, except when I'm pissed. I'm wondering where karaoke addicts fit in in this cosmology.


Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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While traveling over the holiday weekend, I noticed that there's a company called "Seattle's Best" which is trying to move in on Starbucks' territory - i.e., every little shopping arcade in airports & train stations & so forth.

Somehow I think the notion that people are going to start frothing at the mouth and worshipping Seattle as the font of all good coffee things isn't gonna play too well on the East Coast. And I bet you aren't gonna see any of these in New Orleans.

I don't drink coffee so I can't offer any product analysis there. However, I can tell you that they charge 50 cents more for the same damn cup of Taso tea that you get at Starbucks.

Now that is evil. :laugh:


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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While traveling over the holiday weekend, I noticed that there's a company called "Seattle's Best" which is trying to move in on Starbucks' territory - i.e., every little shopping arcade in airports & train stations & so forth.

As of last year they are actually owned by Starbucks but the 'bucks chose to keep the Seattle's best locations open under that name - probably to create the illusion of competition. Talk about having your bases covered.

Starbucks Completes $72 Million Purchase of Seattle's Best

Many of the Seattle's Best locations were operated by franchisees. I suspect the franchise situation may in part account for the need to keep the existing locations under the Seattle's best names. The 'bucks does not franchise unless you count the airport / tourist locations Starbucks kiosks which are all run on contract by Host Marriott Corporation.

If you read referenced articles about large grocery chains where Seattle's Best bagged coffee started getting placement after the acquisition, it becomes evident that the focus of this move may have been to get more shelf space in supermarkets rather than more sales in cafe's.

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While traveling over the holiday weekend, I noticed that there's a company called "Seattle's Best" which is trying to move in on Starbucks' territory - i.e., every little shopping arcade in airports & train stations & so forth.

As of last year they are actually owned by Starbucks but the 'bucks chose to keep the Seattle's best locations open under that name - probably to create the illusion of competition. Talk about having your bases covered.

Starbucks Completes $72 Million Purchase of Seattle's Best

[...]If you read referenced articles about large grocery chains where Seattle's Best bagged coffee started getting placement after the acquisition, it becomes evident that the focus of this move may have been to get more shelf space in supermarkets rather than more sales in cafe's.

Seattle's Best also appears to supply coffee to independent coffeehouses, something Starbucks proper does not do. There is an indie coffeehole near me (11th and Spruce streets, Center City Philadelphia) called Stellar Coffee that has served Seattle's Best from the day it opened three years ago.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Fascinating. Starbucks' tentacles are everywhere.

I'm amused to note that Seattle's Best was owned by an Atlanta firm before it passed to Starbucks. Wonder if it ever had anything to do with Seattle.


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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I guess this means we can now think of starbucks as the Wal-mart of coffee instead of the McDonald's of coffee. And to all you making a living at starbucks, my hat is off to you for all those frappeycinos you have to make.

as for Seattle's best, is it even sold in Seattle? or is that just a ruse? pretty much I never considered Seattle to be the epicenter of coffee. I started drinking espresso when I lived in San Francisco at Cafe Flore and Cafe Sport and Cafe Trieste. To me, SEA was pretty mucha johnny come lately as far as coffee is concerned.

Lot's of people here line up for their daily dose of sugar with caffine. I go on by to my local independent just so I can sit by the fireplace while I drink my cuppa from a real ceramic mug. nothing better.


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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as for Seattle's best, is it even sold in Seattle?  or is that just a ruse? 

Seattle's Best is a Seattle company. It used to be known as Stewart Brothers Coffee, but had a conflict with a carpet company also called Stewart Bros., so they changed the name (but with the same initials). This was early 90's some time, and the new name was obv. chosen to cash in on the fad of things Seattle.

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Hmm, another quick follow-up that's been bothering me:

1. If you order a coffee to stay, are you offered a mug?

I've only been to Starbucks a few times but have never been offered a mug.

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Hmm, another quick follow-up that's been bothering me:

I know this has become a 'bash $bucks' thread, but I've never had an espresso from 'em in anything but a cup (yes, I've had to walk out). In fact, when they state they've 'no espresso cups', I have often receive a doppio in a cap cup/mug.

Most every chain I've been to in my life sucks for some reason or another (short Whole Foods) - the issue is the degree to which they suck. Starbucks is better than most.

Americans (in all things) get what they want/deserve.


~waves

"When you look at the face of the bear, you see the monumental indifference of nature. . . . You see a half-disguised interest in just one thing: food."

Werner Herzog; NPR interview about his documentary "Grizzly Man"...

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Andrew, thanks for the info on Seattle's Best. I remember Stewart's from when I lived in the Great Pacific Northwet in the early 80's. And that was when Starbucks only had 3 little terrific shops. Things change. And now Seattle is Caffine central. Who would of thought.


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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Hmm, another quick follow-up that's been bothering me:

1. If you order a coffee to stay, are you offered a mug?

I've only been to Starbucks a few times but have never been offered a mug.

Those in my area all have real cups if you ask, and people do ask for them. Market research must show that customers want a paper cup unless they ask for the other.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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1. If you order a coffee to stay, are you offered a mug?

I've only been to Starbucks a few times but have never been offered a mug.

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I stand accused of being an assclown (60% of salary spent at S. Bucks). Funny thing is that I live a few blocks from a Starbucks but I haven't been to one in four years (It was the nearest place to get coffee during the month we were in the process of moving into our new house).

I like my coffee dark but not burned so, I buy dark roast beans from a very good local roaster for $4.49 per pound (at Costco). I'm not against giant retailers or their marketing success (It's Amerika after all). I'm just selective.

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This is highly unlikely. Their research more likely would show that disposable cups and the costs around using them are less than real cups. Despite it being recycled cardboard it is still waste that, at least based on observations at the starbucks near me, is unnecessary waste when many people in thwe warmer months are sitting in-store or out on a patio.

It's the same reason why disposable stirsticks are used instead of metal spoons. The cost of washing is more than the cost of disposing. And that is depressing :(

I don't get it. In New York, I'd say 90% of the Starbucks customers come in, get their coffee and walk out with it. What's the point of slowing things down the process by trying to figure out if it should be in a paper cup or in a real cup? There's also little enough room to store/wash real cups and spoons. This is not to say I don't enjoy the coffeehouse experience but Starbucks wouldn't be the place to do it.

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1. If you order a coffee to stay, are you offered a mug?

I've only been to Starbucks a few times but have never been offered a mug.

Those in my area all have real cups if you ask, and people do ask for them.  Market research must show that customers want a paper cup unless they ask for the other.
This is highly unlikely. Their research more likely would show that disposable cups and the costs around using them are less than real cups.

DC is an area bristling with self-important asshats. Very few want to linger over coffee. They don't even want to wait a couple of minutes for their venti caramel whatevers. :rolleyes:


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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1. If you order a coffee to stay, are you offered a mug?

I've only been to Starbucks a few times but have never been offered a mug.

Those in my area all have real cups if you ask, and people do ask for them.  Market research must show that customers want a paper cup unless they ask for the other.
This is highly unlikely. Their research more likely would show that disposable cups and the costs around using them are less than real cups.

DC is an area bristling with self-important asshats. Very few want to linger over coffee. They don't even want to wait a couple of minutes for their venti caramel whatevers. :rolleyes:

It varies by location I'm quite certain. And I should retract what I said about research because it may in fact show that most starbucks customers are on the run. It just so happens that the two near my house are in residential funky shopping districts, and many folks are not in the same rush they would be in at a downtown venue.

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DC is an area bristling with self-important asshats.  Very few want to linger over coffee.  They don't even want to wait a couple of minutes for their venti caramel whatevers.   :rolleyes:

I don't think it's appropriate to think of people in a rush as self-important asshats. If you needed your coffee fix during the day and the coffee in the office was typical crap, would you have the luxury of sitting at Starbucks?

I enjoy the eGullet forums very much and mostly people do not look down on people at different levels of food knowledge. Why is it different here when we talk about coffee?

edited to correct grammer.


Edited by hshiau (log)

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We have entered that time of year when Starbucks' lure for me is no longer just related to the fact that I am travelling, I see one on the corner, and I know what to expect. This is the time of year when I might actually seek out Starbucks though I've got plenty of my favorite roast from my favorite coffee shop at the ready.

You see, I really like their Christmas blend coffee. I think it is far and away better than the coffee they normally serve as 'cup of the day'. Good 'spicey' flavor and much closer to properly brewed strength (I often think their coffee is thin and weak for my taste). I haven't tried this year's version yet but in past years it has been far and away above their normal daily offerings.

So, as I mentioned above, I'm a bundle of contradictions. I hate them sometimes, maybe even most times. But I can't really stay away from them completely.


Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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The area of town where I'm freelancing at the moment is nothing but street vendors, crap delis with even crappier coffee, and a Starbucks. I get my bagel for .50 from the street vendor, and my latte from starbucks because at least starbucks have the equipment to make me a latte, and my day is too short mount a one woman crusade against the evils of corporate coffee, especially when the other options in the area suck. Sometimes, you just need a cup.

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DC is an area bristling with self-important asshats.  Very few want to linger over coffee.  They don't even want to wait a couple of minutes for their venti caramel whatevers.  :rolleyes:

I don't think it's appropriate to think of people in a rush as self-important asshats. If you needed your coffee fix during the day and the coffee in the office was typical crap, would you have the luxury of sitting at Starbucks?

I enjoy the eGullet forums very much and mostly people do not look down on people at different levels of food knowledge. Why is it different here when we talk about coffee?

edited to correct grammer.

Don't get me wrong, I love Starbucks. I mailed ordered their coffee for years before it became available nationally. And I certainly have no reason to look down on anyone for their lack of food knowledge.

And I know what its like to be in a rush. But where I live, an awful lot of people aren't just in a hurry, they are rude about it. They are the people that snap at the counter people, and slam on the door on my kid because they are in such a hurry. Those people, in my opinion, deserve to be called asshats.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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And that was when Starbucks only had 3 little terrific shops.  Things change.  And now Seattle is Caffine central.  Who would of thought.

Yeah, I remember when my mom would buy a twenty-pound burlap sack of Starbucks beans and share it with friends; it was the easiest way to get the coffee.

As a child, I was, um, fascinated by the logo and its naked mermaid boobies...

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And I know what its like to be in a rush.  But where I live, an awful lot of people aren't just in a hurry, they are rude about it.  They are the people that snap at the counter people, and slam on the door on my kid because they are in such a hurry.  Those people, in my opinion, deserve to be called asshats.

Agreed. Rudeness is never appropriate...but surely there are asshats in other coffee shops as well.

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Don't get me wrong, I love Starbucks.  I mailed ordered their coffee for years before it became available nationally.  And I certainly have no reason to look down on anyone for their lack of food knowledge. 

BTW, I need to apologize for this one. I didn't mean to imply that you looked down on people for lack of food knowledge. I guess I was seeing a number of posts that seemed to me to indicate that anyone that likes Starbucks drink is ignorant. Different strokes.

I go to Starbucks frequently and never ever get a regular coffee drink, mainly because I don't really drink coffee during the day. Inevitably, it's for a Frappacino or a pumpkin spice or a peppermint mocha. I suppose we can call it coffee flavored drinks and leave it at that.

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I guess I was seeing a number of posts that seemed to me to indicate that anyone that likes Starbucks drink is ignorant.

Perhaps a comprehension issuue on my part but I haven't sensed that sentiment appearing as a trend in this thread. Among serious coffee drinkers and espresso enthusiasts there is often general recognition that many people who visit Starbucks are there for the "dessert drinks" and don't really have a clue about "real" coffee. That's perfectly okay with me and with most other people in the industry because we all had to start somewhere. Of those peple who visit a Starbucks and get the sweet foamy dessert drinks, there will always be a certain percentage who develop an interest in and appreciation for better coffees. Many of them will branch out to exploring other types of coffee drinks and begin seeking out better quality independent coffeehouses.

One can hope that eventually this sort of industry growth will benefit all - the quality bar is raised and results in better drinks for consumers, higher prices for growers and a lasting committment to sound and ethical practices in the entire production/sales/consumption chain.

Perhaps I'm too idealistic but the situation is in general better than it was as recently as 4 - 5 years ago in many parts of the country. To an extent we have Starbucks to thank for that. I think the point has been well made that despite the negatives many people perceive about them (which are true of nearly any corporate monolith in some sense or other), there are many favorable points as well.

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I guess I was seeing a number of posts that seemed to me to indicate that anyone that likes Starbucks drink is ignorant.

Perhaps a comprehension issuue on my part but I haven't sensed that sentiment appearing as a trend in this thread. Among serious coffee drinkers and espresso enthusiasts there is often general recognition that many people who visit Starbucks are there for the "dessert drinks" and don't really have a clue about "real" coffee. That's perfectly okay with me and with most other people in the industry because we all had to start somewhere. Of those peple who visit a Starbucks and get the sweet foamy dessert drinks, there will always be a certain percentage who develop an interest in and appreciation for better coffees. Many of them will branch out to exploring other types of coffee drinks and begin seeking out better quality independent coffeehouses.

One can hope that eventually this sort of industry growth will benefit all - the quality bar is raised and results in better drinks for consumers, higher prices for growers and a lasting committment to sound and ethical practices in the entire production/sales/consumption chain.

Perhaps I'm too idealistic but the situation is in general better than it was as recently as 4 - 5 years ago in many parts of the country. To an extent we have Starbucks to thank for that. I think the point has been well made that despite the negatives many people perceive about them (which are true of nearly any corporate monolith in some sense or other), there are many favorable points as well.

My bad then. I do enjoy Starbucks for their dessert drinks. As for "real" coffee, I'm not particularly a coffee drinker, more an espresso after-dinner man. I suppose if I found or could make really good coffee, I might change my mind. However, it hasn't been important enough for me to make the effort. My loss, I guess.

As for Starbucks raising the bar, unfortunately, I think mostly what they've raised is the prices. I don't know that many coffeehouses have improved on their product but you can't find a coffee for under $2.50 anymore.

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