Eugene Cho

starbucks “de-brands” itself as your local cafe

photo from Seattle PI

By now, many folks know that Starbucks has chosen to experiment by “de-branding” themselves by opening up three “neighborhood” coffee & tea shops called 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea. Along with coffee and tea, these stores will also sell wine and beer. I have yet to visit one of these shops but intend to at some point to see what the fuss is about.

The question is: “Will it work?”

I was told my Starbucks employees that they’re goal is to entice people that don’t normally go to Starbucks. And while some may go, they should be smart enough to know that that folks that are reasons why folks don’t go to Starbucks.  De-Branding yourself isn’t going to change that, will it?

Will it? Good idea?

Here’s my take:

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. Kudos to Starbucks and while they may have been late to the Fair Trade “game,” no one has done more to advance its causes…

But that’s where some complexities arise. 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 at all but its danger lies in thinking, convincing, and acting 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 superlative coffee – but no longer (in my humble opinion). When a coffee company produces mediocre coffee, that’s a problem.  And when Howard Schultz (who sold out the Sonics!) says that they’re a “people company” – I have no idea what that means. Is Starbucks really a “people company?”

And while Starbucks is a great company to work for, they are a beast to compete against. And when Starbucks moves into the neighborhood, most local coffeeshops (outside the superlative ones) don’t have a fighting chance. You speak to any local or independent cafes, 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]

It’s always easy to take pot shots at the big companies. I get that and I’m not trying to take shots at Starbucks for the sake of taking shots at the biggest and baddest. Make no mistake about it: Starbucks is an incredible story. There’s much to celebrate and learn from.  But that’s why I expect more and want more from the biggest and the baddest. But that’s another post.

While I think the 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea will be partly successful, I am hoping it fails.  Why?

It’s not that I mean harm against Starbucks.  Not at all. I want this experiment to fail because hints of success will only mean one thing:  Expansion. And that may be good for Starbucks shareholders, but it won’t mean good news for neighborhood small businesses.

Coincidentally, the non-profit community cafe I helped found and serve as the Executive Director is located on 15th Avenue (another part of Seattle) and I have suspicion that if these experimental stores are a “success” for Starbucks, they’ll be moving into the neighborhood soon by converting their current Starbucks into another 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea. 

Here’s another person’s thoughts from Peter Merholz via Harvard Business Publishing:

But 15th Ave Coffee & Tea is an experiment doomed to failure, because there’s no way a corporate coffee chain can create an authentic neighborhood coffeehouse experience. Your favorite local coffeehouse is the product of someone’s passion, dedication, and probable borderline craziness. 15th Ave is the product of corporate product design and development. Read the introductory copy on the 15th Ave website:

Fresh roasted coffee. Tea picked from the far reaches of the world with care. Artisan baked breads and treats that are sure to delight. A little flair of Italia with some heavenly gelato or affogato. 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea brings these flavors of the world direct to your local neighborhood everyday.This is so transparently corporate marketing speak. Compare it to the website of my favorite San Francisco coffeehouse, Farley’s, which is amateurish (and I mean that by its Latin root: done for the love) and personal:

Roger Farley Hillyard broke his coffee pot back in 1988 and could not find a store to purchase a replacement part. After scouring the city, Farley’s was conceptualized as a coffee and tea store. Through various incarnations, the present day concept of creating a place of community for the community was developed….The character of Farley’s mirrors the uniqueness of the people and allows for a genuine and distinctive experience for everyone.Faking it is not a good strategy in bed or in retail.

Perhaps my biggest beef with 15th Ave is that it’s fundamentally dishonest. Everyone knows it’s run by Starbucks, but the website and the store do all they can to suggest it’s a true independent (though the high level of interior design suggests a bankroll out of the reach of most entrepreneurs).

photos from seattle pi

Photos by Joshua Trujillo (Seattle PI)

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24 Responses

  1. Megan says:

    I personally hate Starbucks. I can stand it in Seattle because that’s where it was born, but I hate that they’re EVERYWHERE. Their stores will never have the homey atmosphere of a local coffee shop.

    A couple of years ago a Starbucks was put in the heart of downtown Missoula…two doors down from the best coffee shop ever, The Break (an independent shop), and two blocks away from another popular local coffee shop, Liquid Planet. I’m happy to report that on any given day, The Break and Liquid Planet are packed with people while the Starbucks sits empty. I’m fairly certain their store operates at a loss, but since they have so much corporate money, they can afford it, which is annoying.

  2. Andy M says:

    I’ve never liked starbucks, but then, I don’t like coffee. Add in that they are a huge corporation that puts coffeeshops on every other block in my city and I really dislike them. It seems like OKC has a McDonalds, a Starbucks, and a Wal-mart on every few blocks.

    I did some traveling to the north and northeast lately and while I know I had only a small sampling of the places I went, it seemed to me that small businesses were more prominent. Or at least they weren’t constantly overshadowed by huge corporations. It also seemed like there was more of a culture of people trying to be more green and fair-trade minded and such. It was a breath of fresh air for me.

    Anyways, sadly a local coffeeshop that I liked just closed down last week. I don’t drink coffee, but I really liked the place as a business. They had fair-trade organic coffee that my wife particularly enjoyed and they had enough variety in their food selection that it was really enjoyable. It has been suggested that their business was hurt the most by McDonald’s new coffee options, which is just depressing.

    I think I would love capitalism if it wasn’t for the corporations. When did “success” become “Dominate and Conquer”?

    I think that this experiment by starbucks will probably work. Because it will appeal to the range of people who want the same kind of convenience and efficiency that you get from all big corporate franchises like starbucks, but don’t want to feel like they have sold out to huge corporations. The illusion created by starbucks in those shops will create a middle ground for many. But it is just an illusion.

  3. Kacie says:

    Used to work at a small Italian coffee shop in Chicago. They still used beans that the family grew and roasted in Italy and sent over to the US. They trained me to make a latte like you wouldn’t believe… and I’m now spoiled for life.

    Starbucks bought us out, and I took their offer of continued employment and worked for them for a few months. It’s true that they are generally a great employer and they generally have good customer service, but they have no idea how to make proper espresso drinks! There’s no personal touch.

    And … many people will tell you that research says that when a Starbucks opens up, the indepedant shops around actually gain more business because of the presence of Starbucks. Not sure where that research is coming from, but some people swear it’s true.

  4. “Kudos to Starbucks and while they may have been late to the Fair Trade “game,” no one has done more to advance its causes…”

    Sorry, I don’t buy that one. Yes, they’ve become aux fait with the lingo, but Starbucks is still an inherently unfair company. FairTrade products should be fairly delivered, and Starbucks still remains one of the biggest employers vehemently opposed to unionisation, and responsible for under-employment and many other bad practices.

    They may have been dragged kicking and screaming into the fairtrade game, but here in the UK they’re using the “Rainforest Alliance” certification (a cheap rip-off by comparison to actual FT accreditation). At its heart, Starbucks is still a predatory organisation based on very specific, and very specifically damaging, injustices. I don’t see the heart being transformed just yet.

  5. jc says:

    Whether you love or hate SBUX you have to give Howie credit for the great job he and his group have done for building such a recognizable worldwide brand.

    I live in the neighborhood and took a quick peek inside, and well – Howie has done it again. The store is impressive, very inviting and another plus there is a Clover coffee machine at this store. That being said, I will still continue to satisfy my daily coffee fix at Viviace, but I am not afraid to admit I will patronize the new 15th Ave. Coffee.

    p.s. I wonder if Peter Merholz has even been in the store. Harvard Business School, didn’t they give G. W. Bush a degree?!?!?!

    p.s.s. Howie did the city a favor by getting rid of the Sonics. Hopefully, the Seahawks and Mariners will soon follow!

  6. Suzanne T says:

    Wow…it never ceases to amaze me how critical people can be of a success story. Starbucks did all the right things to build the brand the way they wanted it, and customers came, one cup at a time. No brand is universal, and they are one of the first to admit it. But you have to accept there is a powerful market for their product and service. Their new shops are simply a line extension in a different packaging — happens all the time in this capitalistic society. And as far as them ‘wiping out’ the little guy? Well, that’s is a lame excuse when the little guy doesn’t come close to providing the customer connection/service CONSISTENTLY. Too bad — they should start benchmarking best practices of Starbucks and learn how to truly build their own brand from the inside out. Customers leave brands out of indifference — meaning — no “wow” experience to keep them coming back. I think Starbucks is rewriting the customer service code for America. It’s about time!!

  7. It’s ironic that Starbucks, even in ‘de-branded’ stores, can’t stand to not have their real name in there somewhere. That top photo with the ‘inspired by Starbucks?’ Yeah, that’s really authentic.

    Churches could do the same, but they run into the same problem. The Southern Baptists are a hugely successful denomination, with also a lot of people who won’t ever try one of their churches, because they think they know what they’re getting. Southern Baptists could do the same thing – creating ‘non-denominational’ churches that carry no Baptist branding, but the same message. It’s the same pitfall though. People inside their own denomination are oftentimes so fiercely loyal, they’d never allow one of their churches to drop their blessed name!

  8. Terri says:

    I actually dislike Starbucks for the bastardization of coffee and the manipulation of people’s psyches. Yes, a heavy charge but here’s what I mean: Starbucks, in its marketing wisdom, designed market surveys and focus groups to find out what about coffee makes it so enticing to the American palate. They found that aroma equated psychologically to the amount of caffeine – the stronger the aroma, the higher the perceived amount of caffeine. In fact, the right aroma would have the placebo effect to perk up a person’s energy level. So as a result, Starbucks modified its roasting method to slightly over-roast its coffee beans, creating that strong, albeit burnt, aroma and its associated flavour profile that is now signature Starbucks. However, they found that this method of roasting strips the coffee of some of its natural caffeine content – ironic, isn’t it? So according to a friend of mine who is the brand manager for a big competitor in the coffee market which shall be unnamed – but trust me, we’re talking about another multinational company, but out of Europe – Starbucks has come to chemically infuse its coffee beans after the roasting process to (over)compensate for the loss.

    For those of you out there who love Starbucks, do you feel manipulated yet? You have been essentially conditioned to become dependent on their product.

  9. Starbucks recently bought out the Ballard-based Clover® coffee machine company to try to make the best-brewed cup of coffee in the world. Say what you like about the company but they really are interested in first-rate coffee.

    @eugene: you mentioned that companies (and some churches) “don’t know when and where to stop.” I’m curious what you mean by this. I understand that if the drive to expand/achieve stems from some kind of internal emptiness then it’s better to address the inner problem. But it seems healthy to me for an internally-functional organization (company, church, or even the whole Christian faith) to continually expand and grow.

    Besides the obvious threat to competitors what is it about the continual expansion that you see as a problem?

  10. seonghuhn says:

    it’s nice to hear someone speak out against expansion

  11. Bonnie says:

    I live a couple blocks away from the 15th Ave Coffee & Tea on 15th. I thought I remembered hearing that yes, they are going to put stores in other neighborhoods of Seattle if this one succeeds, but they will be named for that neighborhood. For example if in the U-District it could be called “The Ave Coffee & Tea” (Good thing I’m not naming them, right?).

    I honestly didn’t want to care either way about the store. I was even feeling excited about it because I am currently looking for employment and saw opportunity there. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being tricked. Maybe I’m being hyper-sensitive because of my deep love and loyalty for this part of Capitol Hill, but maybe not.

    Also, do people realize that the location of 15th Ave WAS, until a month ago, a regular Starbucks? I’m not sure, but I don’t remember hearing anyone griping about Starbucks being there then.

    Recently, I talked to a barista at another small business coffee shop on 15th. I asked him how he felt about it. He told me he had gone to try it out, not wanting to get worked up about something that didn’t seem worth the lost energy. As he waited in line for his 1st 15th Ave coffee, he started to feel knots in his stomach. Not because he was buying coffee from a corporation (who, yes has also done a lot of good) but because here is this beautiful new store that completely appeals to his demographic, yet they are not being completely upfront with who they are. Not a local coffee shop, a corporation – Starbucks. He didn’t end up purchasing a coffee that day. Mostly, he came to the realization that he was feeling tricked.

    I really prefer not to get worked up about things when it’s not necessary. I really preferred not to get worked about about 15th Ave Coffee & Tea. However, I feel at the root of this business venture, there is a root of dishonesty and untruthfulness is something I do get worked up about.

  12. Al Shaw says:

    Hey Eugene,

    May I suggest that this is not really about Starbucks but about capitalism and may I encourage you to carefully follow the train of thought you started when you said, “the issue with Starbucks and any other big company is that folks just don’t know where and when to stop.”

    I know how emotionally difficult it is in the American context to say “capitalism sucks” but in essence the Starbucks story reveals this to be an accurate statement. Developed capitalism is right now destroying the planet, fueling wars and grinding the faces of the poor in the dirt.

    The question is, can you follow through the implications of this reality and conceive of an economic model that challenges it? Most Americans assume that the only alternative is marxism.

    Meanwhile, there is a voice in the wilderness calling out, “distributism, distributism.”

  13. Andy M says:

    @Suzanne,
    It isn’t “success” that people are irritated at. It isn’t jealousy that leads this discussion. It is the fact that starbucks and many, many other “successful” corporations in this country, in the world, tend to pay low wages that people couldn’t live off of, especially in developing countries, and destroy the environment in the name of expansion and making money.

    And as far as the “little guy” not giving as good of service. What a bunch of bull. That coffeeshop that I mentioned earlier gave better service and products than the nearest starbucks, and it definately was better than the McDonalds that contributed to it’s demise.

    My dad ran a small town hardware store that he had inherited from my grandparents who built a great business over 60 years ago. It has been closed for almost a decade now because people would drive almost one and a half hours, roundtrip, to Wal-Mart because they believed it to be cheaper. The truth of it was that it wasn’t cheaper on most stuff, and the employees didn’t have a clue. Image and brand loyalty no longer have hardly anything to do with quality service or products. It is whatever illusion they can feed into your minds. It was nearly impossible to convince people that it wasn’t any cheaper to drive an hour and a half to get what they needed than it was to just go down the street and get it from my dad, because of some illogical assumption that Wal-Mart is always cheapest.

    @JDC,
    Expansion in itself isn’t bad, but when it starts affecting other people it becomes a problem. The other day I read an article about the Dutch people and how they do their business. They are free to expand and grow in that way, but to expand in a way that takes someone else’s business, their livelihood, it is considered a break of the social contract. It mentioned a hotel who started renting bikes, and it took away business from a woman who had been renting bikes for decades, and the community as a whole frowns upon things like that.

    Competition can be a good thing, but if it becomes a “kill or be killed” kind of situation, which is exactly how I would describe our economy in the U.S., it is far more destructive than it is positive.

  14. […] starbucks “de-brands” itself as your local cafe By now, many folks know that Starbucks has chosen to experiment by “de-branding” themselves by opening […] […]

  15. chad says:

    @ Jack Danger County – “the only thing that grows without limit is a tumor” i wish i could take credit for that quote but i saw it somewhere else (on the SLOG actually).

    and @ all you Starbucks fanboys out there, I worked there for two years and repeatedly got the short end of the stick – the benefits are good (not great) and that’s the extent of it; hours and scheduling are terrible, pay is meager, corporate promises are empty (unless they are threatening to close your store and cut your job or make you commute another 20 min to another location) managers are frequently unconcerned about employee welfare and the customers (yes the customers) are atrocious.

  16. Terra210 says:

    Interesting post. And replies. Until you can convince board members and those who have 401K’s that loss is better than profit: it matter’s not. Howard came back for a reason. And everything is a market, even Quest. Even this blog sells ads…; ) Worry about the kids in memphis in grade school, who are made to learn in schools with no air conditioning; while the white kids schools have air; then they are tested and show lower scores… Yet we worry about coffee shops and their markets…eyes wide open…difficult

  17. Terra210 says:

    Sorry my website did not post; nfold.net
    Also did project on markets: wrlds.com
    And wanted to address housing false stories: housestories.org

  18. Jim says:

    i was checking out Trader Joe’s and In-n-Out Burger locations tonight…not sure why…and I could not believe how much both have grown…Starbucks in an interesting animal that grew into a brand, but last yr had to close a few stores. They do a good job, but I prefer Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf…

  19. I’m playing devil’s advocate here🙂

    I’m really not sure why folks are anti-growth concerning Starbucks. Sure, it’s tough to be one of their competitors but that doesn’t mean that it’s a moral problem that they grow.

    Do folks here think their local coffee shop would be “not knowing when to stop” if they went from one store to two? How about World Vision – does anyone here think that WV’s anti-sex-trafficking work is “large enough”? Or is perpetual growth only bad for morally-neutral endeavors? It sounds like a knee-jerk “corporations are bad” theme to me.
    It’s one thing to make specific arguments against specific practices of Starbucks (employer happiness, your taste preferences, your sense of authenticity) but something else entirely to claim that expansion is generally bad. Or that it must be checked.

    @Andy M:
    Your Dutch example is intriguing. I’m curious though if anyone here would apply the same concept to protecting AT&T from upstart, expansionist, community-driven telecom co-ops. I don’t think AT&T (or anyone else) should benefit from job protectionism.

    Starbucks is no more a faceless corporation than your local coffee shop except that you may have happened to meet the folks who run your local cafe. Though, living in this city you’ve probably met the folks who run Starbucks as well.

  20. Andy M says:

    @JDC,
    I would say that, for the most part, the Dutch situation would be absent of a major corporation. Even if the hotel I mentioned is a major chain, it was only when they expanded into a market that hurt someone else’s business that got the locals irritated. I would have no problem with say, a major grocery store chain expanding into a new area, unless there are local grocery stores already there that would be hurt. My hometown went without a grocery store for like 4 years because everyone knew that most people in town go to the nearest Wal-mart 40 minutes away for groceries. The grocery store that someone ended up building is good, but is small and limited because it wasn’t worth investing too much money into competing with Wal-mart.

    Honestly, I think I prefer Pre-Industrial Revolution type Capitalism. Back then, if a business in town was too expensive or had poor service, then start your own and make them compete. You were never fighting against million and billion dollar corporations, so you had a good chance to do well.

    Expansion in non-profits I would say is usually good, because they are typically working for the benefit of people, unlike most businesses which are usually just for the benefit of the owners and maybe the workers. And they would be expanding into places of need. Compared with a for-profit business, this would be the equivalent of providing a gas station, where there isn’t already a gas station. The only problem I see with non-profit expansion is that at some point it is possible for the majority of the work to start to go into maintaining the establishment, rather than the original vision.

    @Jim,
    I will say I wouldn’t mind if In-N-Out Burger would expand into Oklahoma. I really liked their food when I visited L.A.

  21. Theresa says:

    It’s simply not transparent. For Starbucks to “pretend” it’s a local coffee shop I think will be offputting by many. The allure behind going to a local coffee shop, at least to me, is the ‘family-owned’ atmosphere or purist attitude towards coffee. For Starbucks to pretend that this is them, when they’re not, is simply not transparent and I think that the community needs to make it very clear.

    I agree also with your note about Starbucks being an amazing company. It is. Often it is eager to improve itself, and its CEO has been quoted throughout its history as being introspective and forward-thinking. I think that one thing it does need to learn, however, is community relationships.

    Why not engage its key ‘local competition’ in dialogues regarding child slavery. Why not create product extensions, such as coffee house management consulting services, local marketing training seminars, espresso machines, (you get the picture) and allow for local competition to use your products. Why not invest more money into B2B coffee catering services, create a bagel line, or invest more into R&D to develop the Best Espresso There Ever Was?

    You’re not remarkable anymore if you’re giving a healthy amount of effort into putting others out of business. Sounds like they may have run out of ideas.

  22. Eugene Cho says:

    @jcd: i agree. i don’t think expansion and growth is wrong at the core.

    and i also agree (and tried to acknowledge) that people tend to get critical of those that are growing.

    but having said that, i’m simply questioning the idea that growth is always better; and the need to keep growing larger and larger; and the need to consider how we grow.

  23. […] death of community or community enhancers I started thinking a few days ago after reading this blog post by Eugene Cho.  Then I had a conversation today at lunch with a colleague as we ate lunch at a […]

  24. […] can read all about this new idea here and see their site here. The idea appears simple enough; if people won’t sup, create a brand new […]

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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