Yesterday, Starbucks was again in the local and national news because about 7100 of the national Starbucks stores were closed around 5.30pm so that their 135,000 employees could undergo about 3 hours of training for:
Part back-to-basics tutorial, part pep rally, the teach-in aimed to reacquaint baristas with the art of pulling the perfect shot of espresso and steaming milk to add a subtle hint of sweetness to a latte and give the velvety foam on top just the right thickness. [full article]
This is one of the many recent changes that have taken place at Starbucks since the return of Howard “I Sold out the Seattle Supersonics” Schultz. There are too many to name but I’d love to hear what your thoughts are about these changes.
For real or for show?
Do you like or dislike Starbucks? Why?
What do you think about their coffee?
Most folks here in Seattle either love or hate Starbucks [with most leaning towards “love”]. Those who hate Starbucks really hate Starbucks. But the reality is that Starbucks has been the most prominent influence in making coffee a desired commodity not just locally but globally. As difficult as this might be to hear, local coffeeshops exist because of Starbucks.
But there’s where the problem begins. Starbucks is a “good company” and even a better company to work for. They treat their employees well. We have numerous folks at Quest Church that work at Starbucks and most very much enjoy their work there.
But the issue with Starbucks and any other big company [including churches as well] is that folks just don’t know where and when to stop. Capitalism and free market, at its core, isn’t a bad thing but its danger lies in thinking that bigger is always better; expansion is necessary and often times, the only sign of success. More more more. Growth and more growth. And the next thing you know, you end up selling breakfast burritos in your cafe and use automated machined where baristas don’t actually know how to make coffee. Starbucks may have introduced and cultivated the concept of “third place culture” and once served good coffee – but no longer. When a coffee company produces mediocre coffee, that’s a problem.
And while Starbucks is a great company to work for, they are a beast to compete against. And because of Starbucks, most local coffeeshops don’t have a fighting chance. You speak to any local or independent cafe, Starbucks is like Goliath. Why?
Some of the methods Starbucks has used to expand and maintain their dominant market position, such as buying out competitors’ leases, acquiring independent coffee shops and converting them into Starbucks stores, and clustering several locations in a small geographical area (i.e., saturating the market), have been labeled anti-competitive by critics. For example, Starbucks fueled its initial expansion into the UK market with a buyout of its only major potential competitor (the 49 outlet, UK-based Seattle Coffee Company), then used its capital and influence to obtain prime locations, some of which operated at a financial loss. Critics claimed this was an unfair attempt to drive out small, independent competitors, who could not afford to pay inflated prices for premium real estate. [wikipedia]
Well, I’ve given a moderate perspective about Starbucks. If you want to read a more brutal, blunt, and “real deal” perspective, click on the “Crapbucks” logo [not my doing!] to get a perspective from another local cafe owner.