I visited the epicenter of Starbucks this weekend. It’s a nice little store that adheres to the Pike Place Market historic district guidelines. The logo on the exterior is the original brown, nippled mermaid. Inside, it’s not that large and theres a converted tackle supply shop feel to the place. The ceilings are made of painted white wood slats with lots of low white lights hanging. Otherwise, the coffee tasted exactly the same. Yes, no matter which corner in America you visit, whether the first store or the last, you can be assured of enjoying a consistent, smooth, burnt flavor.
After 20 years of development work, and six months of test-marketing in Chicago and Seattle, Starbucks is taking its Via instant coffee national today. Will coffee snobs be willing to pay $1 a serving for a drink that Consumer Reports recently called “good, not great?”
Sun Min Kimes, a behind-the-counter barista at a Starbucks in Ashburn, Virginia has written a guest post on the Fortune magazine blog “Postcards” that offers advice for the CEO of her company, Howard Schultz. Starbucks has been going through some lean times lately, and are trying everything from removing their branding from their coffee shops to… well… making their employees put a Mr. Potato Head toy together over and over again.
A few weeks ago, we shared a story about Starbucks opening new stores that are not branded “Starbucks.” The idea is to recreate the flavor and feel of the independent coffeehouses your neighborhood used to have before Starbucks came along. Shortly after that, the first non-Starbucks Starbucks, 15th Avenue E Coffee and Tea in Seattle, opened for business. What’s it like?
Starbucks, after finally coming to terms with the fact that it is soul-crushingly bland, has been trying to reinvent itself as… well, not Starbucks. They’re stripping the branding from a few of their stores and renaming them after the communities that they’re in -- but one local coffee shop owner says they’ve gone too far to try to blend in.
Starbucks just keeps trying to reinvent itself — and it seems that they’ve tried everything. The only thing left to do is just to stop being Starbucks. So that’s what they’re doing.
Calling their food the “Achilles’ heel of the company” Starbucks has announced that they are reworking 90% of their baked goods to remove high fructose corn syrup and/or artificial flavors and dyes, says Reuters.
Consumer Reports has decided to weigh in on the new Pike Place Roast. CR once described Starbucks’ coffee as “burnt and bitter,” did the new roast manage to charm their testers? [CR]