Is The World Ready For The Starbucks Breakfast Value Meal?

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz recently told investors that they could expect some exciting new “breakfast pairings” at “attractive” prices… which sounds a lot like nice way to say “value meal” to us.

Starbucks is looking to rebound from dismal sales in the U.S. as more consumers cut back on spending in the deepening recession. In its fiscal first quarter report last week, same-store sales — a key indicator of a retailer’s performance — dropped 10 percent. That’s worse than the 8 percent decline in the fiscal fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s has been touting its “recession resistance.”

“While we clearly prefer a more robust environment, today’s market conditions play to our strengths,” Chief Executive Jim Skinner said on a conference call, adding that its customers “are feeling the pinch almost everywhere else.”

Are you into this idea?


Value meal at Starbucks, coming up. But will it tempt enough recession-weary drinkers? [Chicago Tribune]
(Photo:sunligarg)

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  1. downwithmonstercable says:

    Starbucks food is good, but it’s expensive. I wonder what their idea of attractive pricing is.

  2. IT-Chick says:

    Starbucks coffee tastes burnt. 61% (14 votes)

    Everyone says I’m crazy. I love you consumerism!

    • Hank Scorpio says:

      @IT-Chick:
      I know. It amazes me how many people think Starbucks is good coffee. I’ll drink it because it’s convenient. It’s drinkable coffee, not good coffee.

      • Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

        @Hank Scorpio: Yeah, it can’t hold a candle to Panera bread. Cheap and unlimited refills.

        The really amazing thing was seeing the many Starbucks in England (and the Continent). They generally have more of a culture than eschews “filter coffee” in favor of cappuccinos and espressos. So when you get a regular coffee over there, not only do you pay about $5 for it, but it tastes downright horrible.

      • Mr.DuckSauce says:

        @Hank Scorpio: Urine is drinkable also, but it’s not good.

        • "I Like Potatoes" says:

          @Mr.DuckSauce:
          I always make that “bleeeeeeccchhhh” face when I have the first sip of Starbucks coffee. After that, you get used to it. How sad is that?

      • mavrick67 says:

        @Hank Scorpio: @IT-Chick: If Dunkin’ Donuts is a mile down the road and Starbucks is across the street, I’m walkin’ a mile for my coffee. I don’t care if I had a broken leg, regular Starbucks coffee is undrinkable.

        • jamar0303 says:

          @mavrick67: On the other hand, their non-coffee drinks are pretty good. Red bean Frappuccino was my favorite drink. Pity it was a regional (China) and limited-time (July-August 2008) special.

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @IT-Chick: i went by the Lexus dealership today to help pick up my mom’s car.
      inside, they have one of those auto-brew machines, that makes one cup of coffee at a time from fresh beans and some sort of flavor syrup or powder for the cappuccino.
      it tasted good, not the best coffee i’ve ever had, but loads better than starbucks.
      (one of my friends works at starbucks, so i get drinks free, so i drink their lattes mostly. won’t touch the coffee)

  3. nataku8_e30 says:

    I’ll just keep eating breakfast at home…

  4. ScottRose says:

    Ah, but their frappaccinos (not sure on the spelling of that there invented word) taste like a big pile of sweet sweet heaven-juice. I’m getting fatter just thinking of ‘em…

    • Anonymous says:

      @ScottRose: Starbucks mochia (or java chip if I’m feeling really low) frappacinos are just about the only thing I splurge on these days.

      • jamar0303 says:

        @StavitaCoppard: I really wish they still had java chip frappuccinos here. They put them on the menu (along with banana java chip and coconut java chip) two summers ago and took them off around September that year (who knows why- they left Green Tea frappuccinos on the menu, though).

  5. ShirtNinja says:

    Starbucks Coffee tastes burnt, just like every other Fast Food coffee I’ve had (I’m one of the few Canadians that absolutely cannot STAND Tim Hortons coffee).

    Their chai isn’t too bad though, but I’m not paying $5 for it every bloody day.

    • IT-Chick says:

      @ShirtNinja:

      I actually don’t mind McDonald’s coffee, but prefer Dunkin Donuts. Seems a lot of places that sell coffee started going for that “Starbucks Taste” so they’re all nasty now.

    • NYGal81 says:

      @ShirtNinja: Their chai is fantastic…practically the only thing I get there.

      I’m also a fan of the McD’s Iced Vanilla Coffee. It’s huge, costs less than $3, and I’m pretty sure they use half-and-half as a matter of course, unless you specify otherwise. The fatty mouth feel is divine.

      DD’s is one of the worst for me. Maybe I’ve just gotten a bad cup here and there, but it tastes mostly bitter to me…the kind of bitter than gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

    • bbagdan says:

      @ShirtNinja:

      Timmy Ho’s isn’t coffee. It’s nuclear-caffeinated volcano-hot brown water.

      McDonald’s has surprisingly good coffee since they started their “premium coffee” dealio. Try it.

  6. Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

    McDonald’s customers “are feeling the pinch almost everywhere else.”

    Especially in the bathroom around 11am.

    I think Starbucks should have done this a while back. Lots of people already snack there in the morning and call it breakfast. Might as well add some real nourishment.

  7. Cortina says:

    I actually ended up picking up breakfast from Starbucks today, because I met a friend there before class and I hadn’t had a chance to eat at home. I had a greek yogurt with honey and granola. It was very good, but rather than convince me to eat more often at Starbucks, it just reminded me that I could make the exact same breakfast in 30 seconds at home and toss it into a plastic cup for a quarter of the price. I felt kind of dumb when I realized I paid four dollars for it, and had two of the three ingredients at home already (greek yogurt and honey).

  8. BlackMage is doing the Time Warp agaaaaaaain!!! says:

    There’s a value anything at Starbuck? O_o

  9. Amy Alkon000 says:

    I actually ended up picking up breakfast from Starbucks today, because I met a friend there before class and I hadn’t had a chance to eat at home. …It was very good, but rather than convince me to eat more often at Starbucks, it just reminded me that I could make the exact same breakfast in 30 seconds at home and toss it into a plastic cup for a quarter of the price.

    Um, but you weren’t at home. It’s the same with a hamburger. Cheap when you make it, more expensive when somebody else makes it, and then serves it in a for-profit business they’re paying rent to be in.

    Do I really need to be explaining this to you?

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @Amy Alkon: It all depends on how much you eat, too. If I bought the stuff to make hamburgers at home it would go bad before I got through it all, because I eat maybe one hamburger a week. Buying that hamburger from a restaurant is cheaper than buying ingredients I’m going to end up throwing out.

    • ZekeSulastin says:

      @Amy Alkon: “Do I really need to be explaining this to you?”

      You don’t read the comments every time a story about any restaurant food ever comes up here, do you? If you did, you’d have already gone insane from repeating what you’ve said about why people eat at restaurants over and over and over and over …

    • NYGal81 says:

      @Amy Alkon: I hope I’m missing some kind of sarcasm or inside joke. Otherwise, that seems kind of harsh. Seems like she was just saying that her choice of food made her realize she could have this fairly convenient, easy to prepare, item every day at home with things that she already has.

      I don’t think anyone here is daft enough to really think that the overhead of running a restaurant doesn’t exist, and that everything purchased in a restaurant should be the same price as if you bought it at the store.

    • Saboth says:

      @Amy Alkon:

      So, your point is…wake up 5 minutes earlier and save yourself $3 rather than get reamed by overpriced crap, because you just paid $4 for yogurt due to a logo on the side?

    • Gann says:

      @Amy Alkon: I believe Cortina was comparing the cost difference ($3) to the 30 seconds it would take to make it at home. It was a personal cost-benefit analysis, not an evaluation of Starbucks’ business plan.

      Do I really need to be explaining this to you?

    • Cortina says:

      Wow, I had no idea I would arouse such ire from someone.

      @Gann: @NYGal81: Pretty much, yeah.

      I didn’t mind paying for the yogurt thing this morning. I was hungry and in a hurry. But it made me notice that the items Starbucks offers aren’t particularly special or compelling enough to make me go out of my way to get breakfast from there, especially when you add in the price.

      To be clear: sometimes, yes, you pay for convenience, like I did this morning. However, on a regular day, I realized that I could just as easily make an equivalent item cheaply and easily at home, which means that I have no compelling reason to go out of my way to eat at Starbucks on a regular basis.

    • sassenach says:

      @Amy Alkon: There’s no need for you to “explain” anything here. You have your own blog for those interested in being chided by you.

  10. CaptainSemantics says:

    I will admit I’m addicted to the breakfast sandwiches. I think they’re three bucks and are simple English muffins with egg, cheese, and some meat. My favorite: peppered bacon. Mmmmm…

  11. plutonyum says:

    If freaking Subway can experiment with “breakfast” (mmm, a footlong institutional-grade omelet on last night’s surplus sub roll!) then Starbucks can do it.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @plutonyum: Hah hah. That reminds me, shortly after 9-11 I was on a road trip and I saw a Subway with a sign that said:
      WE NOW SERVE BREAKFAST
      PRAY FOR AMERICA

  12. menty666 says:

    For years sbux touted its cultural standing. Now it’s slowly slipping down a stripper pole to McDonald’s level.

    • Ubik2501 says:

      @menty666: A strip club that serves coffee, or a coffee shop that just happens to have strippers in the joint?

      Either way: Brilliant! Who wants to be the first lucky investor in my business plan?

      • mergatroy6 says:

        @Ubik2501: Hate to spoil your excitement, but those places already exist. I remember seeing a story on Dateline or something about roadside coffee shops where you were served by women in bikinis. Friggin brilliant!

        • TWSS says:

          @mergatroy6: Yeah, we have one here in Portland (although I believe the chain started in Salem, OR). Between the coffee fetishism and the extraordinarily high number of strip clubs per capita, it was bound to happen.

          I wonder if they have to keep the place super-heated to make the employees comfortable?

  13. Starfury says:

    I never go to Starbucks so wouldn’t go out of my way for breakfast food.

  14. Trai_Dep says:

    Whoo whoo! Polls that look dandy on OS X Safari. Whoo whoo!!

  15. Nitrokart knows CPR and took that guy's wallet says:

    I’ve never seen “Starbucks” and “value” in the same sentence before, unless “isn’t a” was between them.

  16. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    Does a Starbuck value meal means a Starbuck’s Six Boomer sandwich? If so, I’m in.

    /a little seelix on the side please

    //I’ll run off the calories at a Racetrack

  17. lonestarbl says:

    Attractive pricing in the eye of Starbucks Corporate, is likely VERY different from that which is attractive to the public.

    McD’s/Dunkin you can get “food” and drink for about $3… I’d be willing to guess StarBees is at least $1-3 more, which adds up to a lot of cash if that is a daily pickup

    • goodcow says:

      @lonestarbl: Starbucks also gives health benefits and 401K options to employees whereas McD’s/Dunkin treats their workers like shit.

      I’m willing to pay more to support Starbuck’s corporate culture.

      • lonestarbl says:

        @goodcow: This isn’t about their ethics structure, this is about what will (and won’t) sell to the common patron. If it was all about how companies treat their employees across the board… Nike would have been out of business in the 80′s. This is about supply and demand in its most simple form.

        When it comes to John Q Public, $3 for breakfast rings the bell when compared to paying twice the price.

        • pax says:

          @lonestarbl: I wasn’t aware that DD didn’t treat its employees well. I’ve always been impressed by how many DDs near me seemed to be owned and operated by South Asian immigrants; apparently they are cheap and easy to start up and many first-generation Americans have quite nice lives thanks to DD. Which makes me then ask: Aren’t they franchises and so employee treatment depends more on the individual franchisee? Oh, and the DD egg white flatbreads are cheap, tasty, and twice as big as the English muffin sandwiches at Starbucks.

          I like Starbucks, even. I could just never eat/drink there every day. I eat cereal or oatmeal and brew coffee at home.

  18. Margaret Powell says:

    Starbucks might taste burnt but I LOVE that burnt taste :)

    Their food? Not so much. I do like their sausage egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches, but that’s about it.

    Besides, there are usually bugs flying around in the pastry cases in then starbucks I’ve been to in at least 6 cities in the US

  19. Plates says:

    Nothing on the menu at Starbucks is attractive, especially when it comes to price.

  20. taney71 says:

    Starbucks coffee is just horrible. Can’t stand it.

  21. taney71 says:

    Funny how a company got Americans to buy into a life style where we are now willing to pay 5 dollars for coffee. We deserve this recession with buying habits like that.

  22. howie_in_az says:

    First they burn their coffee, now they’ll burn their breakfast and still have people lined up waiting for it (in the drive-thru lane with their SUVs running, talking on their cell phones about 90210 last night).

  23. MightyCow says:

    I want an apple fritter with my mocha anyway. If they’re going to give me 10% off, I’ll take it.

  24. Fermina Daza says:

    It’s like mud!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Starbucks Pike Place is the bane of my existence! A little part of me died when I could no longer get a cup of whatever bold blend after 12pm.

    Join my Facebook group!

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=12755462123&ref=ts

  26. techstar25 says:

    So, now that we’re in a recession, the king of overpriced coffee will begin to sell overpriced breakfast items. Who’s running that company? Wile E. Coyote?

  27. pschroeter says:

    What’s a Starbucks? I have an Aerobie Aeropress.

    [www.aerobie.com]

  28. theblackdog says:

    Well if one of their combos involves Perfect Oatmeal, then I *might* consider trying it out.

  29. Sorentso says:

    I like their coffee and the price of a regular coffee is cheap. Of course when you add things too it or buy and espresso it costs a lot more.

  30. Maiko Rocha says:

    FAIL

  31. Charmander says:

    I thought my double tall extra-hot latte WAS breakfast.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Support local coffee shops instead! Better coffee at better prices and you’re buying local.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Burnt Starbucks? No way! You’re not a real coffee drinker then. I drink mine black (no cream, no sugar, no anything!) and I prefer the bold blends! And for under $2 for the venti, it’s not that over-priced either.

  34. katieoh says:

    i would give this a shot if it were like… venti whatever you want plus decent breakfast sandwich. and $5.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Please don’t mess with my Starbuck’s experience. If I want breakfast I can get it at McDonald’s or wherever – anyplace else – and still slip through the drive-thru or walk in to get my Non-fat Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte. I want to smell coffee, hear jazzy bits, and see the pretty people waiting in line like me in their work clothes or what-have-you. This idea is awful.

  36. meechybee says:

    Pleeeeeze. Can someone debunk the whole “McDonald’s is cheap” story already. It may be inexpensive compared to Applebees, but it’s also nutritionally cheap – relying on potato starches, sugars and saturated fats.

  37. ZoeSchizzel says:

    We have a Starbucks around the corner from my home. It would be a likely meeting spot for study groups, volunteer groups — groups of all sorts, really, and my particular group of about 10 would love to meet there regularly except that not everyone in our group drinks coffee and they do not offer alternative drinks (like Coke/Diet Coke). Because they can’t put a few cans of soda into a fridge, they’re missing out on the business of 8 coffee drinkers and 2 soda drinkers. I know that they are a coffee shop and that should be their focus, but no one wants to sit drinkless in a coffee shop for an hour, and not providing adequate drink options in what is essnetially a “drink store” is shortsighted. We meet at a coffee shop further down the street (also a chain…we have no homegrown options nearby) where everyone can get something to drink during the meeting.

  38. CumaeanSibyl says:

    The important question is, will they make cheaper oatmeal for Captain Duvel Moneycat?

  39. Meathamper says:

    If it has hash browns, I’ll buy it. McDonald’s hash browns are piddly.

  40. Wasabe says:

    The breakfast sandwiches they have now are okayish, but their donuts are like edible happiness. I don’t care who you are – if you don’t like those donuts they have at Starbucks, there’s something wrong with you.

  41. Rich Jeffery says:

    Caribou Coffee is doing $1 Bakery with a large drink starting next week, bout a buck to two bucks off depending what you get. So a regular coffee + bagel with cream cheese will run ya 3 bucks.

  42. Brandon Sosna says:

    Dunkin Donuts truly does have better coffee than Starbizzy.

  43. bdgbill says:

    I got to Starbucks twice a day to purchase a $5.00 latte. You would think Starbucks would be happy to have me.

    I am not going to wait in line for 20 minutes while the three fatties in front of me order their “Sausage, egg, bacon and cheese scones”.

  44. WalrusTaco says:

    Some consultant working for Starbucks came to my class and asked for our opinions, with the winning opinion going “straight to CEO Howard.” Although I felt this was just a way to score free advice, obviously they didn’t listen to my suggestions: serve better coffee, clean up your restrooms, stop diluting your brand, and stop serving those friggin’ breakfast sandwiches that stink up your stores. McStarbucks, here we come!

    • Alexander Horre says:

      @WalrusTaco:

      Actually they did follow your advice. Starbucks walks the thin line of wanting to have their stores smell like coffee than sandwiches. It turns out the sandwich that made the smell was taken off the menu (the remaining sandwiches are fine and don’t permeate).

      The coffee which a large portion of folks think is burnt, isn’t. It’s brewed fresh (oil on the bean isn’t dried) and only sits on the brewer for 1 hour; after that, it’s dumped and brewed again.

      This is the reason why decaf was pulled after 12 noon (which before was suppose to pulled by 2pm) to save wasted decaf because only 1% if that purchase it.

      Now, coffee on brew must be ground fresh from whole bean, than more the traditional vacuum sealed bags, which ironically is the same freshness. It’s cognitive dissonance: if you see it ground fresh, you perceive it as fresh (even though it was already fresh).

      As I was a Starbucks coffeemaster in my store, I tasted Starbucks against every single market brand. The only coffee that beats Starbucks is Tully’s. Peet’s Coffee is a different category because they roast their beans a dark full city, so if you think SB is ‘burnt’ than Peets is charcoal.

      I have to assume you think coffee is suppose to be sweet. In actuality, that ‘burnt’ taste you think you taste is actually earthy tones in the coffee – that’s how coffee SHOULD taste to the specified roast: ‘full city roast.’

      The only time SB is shit is when worthless employees leave the coffee past 1 hour on the brewer. That is negligence and I’d smack them with a spatula.

  45. RogueWarrior says:

    Maybe if their baked goods were actually FRESH and didn’t make you prefer eating a chunk of Temperpedic mattress foam…

    Once, in Portland, OR, the blueberry scones actually had fresh blueberries in them.

    • Alexander Horre says:

      @RogueWarrior:

      Breakfast pastries are fresh every morning from a local pastry distributor. Afternoon pastries are also delivered every morning, but afternoon pastries have a 2 day shelf life: the coffee cakes depending on flavor can be fresh up to 3 days. If stored properly, even afternoon pastries remain fresh like the first day. Any pastry past its life date is donated to charity organizations.

  46. JulesNoctambule says:

    Oh, Charbucks; not only will you never woo me with your nasty, poorly roasted beans, you will also never get me to abandon my first love when I’m having breakfast out, the local bakery’s coffee cake. It’s manna from heaven and they may lace that stuff with crack it’s so addictive and there is nothing healthy about it but my god, it is good and if I’m going to eat a breakfast I didn’t make that’s the one for me. Keep your burned beans and weak breakfast goods; I’ll be molar-deep in this coffee cake, clutching an aromatic cup of coffee made from locally roasted beans in my hot little hand.

  47. Anonymous says:

    So I went to McD’s to try their new McCafe Mocha. I ordered a “medium” mocha and a bacon egg & cheese biscuit. Paid over $6.00, the medium coffee was smaller than Starbucks “small”, in a styrofoam cup no less…. Not impressed at all. For the money Starbucks is a better deal by far.