I just thought I'd throw it out there for discussion and debate. I'll be sharing ideas and philosophies that have worked for us.

How about those shares of Starbucks? Trading at about 18 right now. There was a pretty hot debate on the morning drive radio program I listen to about how much they have changed. Is this good or bad for the independents? Tell me what you think.

It pays to keep the blinders on. That's for sure.



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I think that the Mc Donald's v. Starbucks fight will only strengthen the industry as a whole. Mc D's is beating 'bucks in more and more taste tests all the time. Now, I can't speak to the qualifications of the tasting panels, but in a sense, it's almost better if it's not experienced tasters becuse the target customer for both chains is not the experienced crowd that this forum either interacts with or at least targets.

I know of a roaster who almost militantly does not cup her coffees after she roasts them. She will allow them to rest and then taste them as drip coffee using the same specs that she brews her normal house drip coffees with. Her logic is that she wants to taste her coffee exactly how her customers taste it and evaluate from there. While I routinely fight the urge to come back with "Well, yes but..." I have to admit that she DOES have a point. I don't subscribe to this methodology, but I can't dismiss her logic either. But I'm digressing.

My point was that I think that scarily, Mc D's will end up setting the new American standard for espresso beverages as Starbucks once did. For that, I am eternally grateful as I support ANYONE who has the cash and is willing to spend it to raise the overall quality of espresso beverages for the greater good. Hopefully, Starbucks will repond and raise the standards even higher and we'll go back and forth for awhile, raising quality all the way. The Indie shops will have to be better and better still, further justifiying the premium that we charge and reinventing where the cutting edge line is that says "Here, try this. THIS is the best cup you've ever had".

It's good to have dreams.
A starbukcs employee told me yesterday that Mcdonalds has entered into an agreement to serve Starbucks coffee. I can neither confirm nor deny.

I read the article above & disagree with Aaron here. I hardly feel that anything these corporations are doing is for the greater good...the greater good of their shareholders yes. Read the link above, it describes the demise of retailers much larger than yours or mine, due to such giants as wal-mart. My thoughts wonder what jobs will be available 30 years from now? In my small town people complain that there is no place to shop but wal-mart, yet their shopping at wal-mart is the sole reason that there are no other places to shop. Only time will tell.
Oh, no no no... Now let's be clear here. Neither Starbucks or Mc Donald's is going to go out of their way to deliberately help the public at large out of the goodness of their hearts. I'm pretty sure Ken and I are in complete agreement about that. My point was that because of the increased competition between the two, there will be greater attention paid to quality in an effort to get the consumer to shell out more money if for no other reason than perceived value (achievable from either company). In the case of Starbucks, for the short term they should strive to simply retain the customer base that they have and assure themselves that that base continues to come in on a regular basis. Anyway, I believe that the customer will benefit in the end because of a better base level product available to the average consumer.

Let me explain this another way. For the sake of transparency, this analogy is made using completely second hand information as I have never been off the continent of North America. From what I hear though, you can walk into a cafe pretty much anywhere in Europe and get an espresso that on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best), rates about a 6 or a 7. The cafe down the street? Another 7. The average espresso that most cafes produce is pretty decent. Compare to espresso in America, where you have to know where to go to get a good shot as the average cafe produces an espresso that would garner a score of 3 or 4. BUT if you know where to go (especially if you're in a large, metropolitan area), an espresso scoring an 8 or even a 9 can be had.

Bringing these comments back around, if the average American espresso rates only a 3 and after Starbucks and Mc Donald's go at it and through competition for market share the average score is raised to a 4 or maybe even a 5 (fingers crossed), then the average American consumer is ultimately the winner. This is a basic tenant of business that competition breeds ingenuity and increases competition (usually to the benefit of shareholders or other invested parties) It's a by-product produced by making concerted efforts make customers want to cap off their Starbucks Experience by spending more money during their visit, assuming that the additional premium expense is for greater quality. If true advances in quality are made and not just the illusionary perception of quality, then like I said above, I don't care who is making the widespread advances...I'm lovin' it.
(Disclaimer - having never seen one of the McD's with McBaristas installed, this is pure speculation.)

I am not as optimistic about the probability of McDonalds entry into the espresso world driving up quality. I just really have a hard time believing that the road they will take to get market share will be to go head-and-shoulders better than Starbucks. Have they done that with any of their other products? My observation is that they use their size and knowledge of their market to be just good enough at a bargain price - dollar menu anyone? And even if this were the road they took, do you believe that this battle will be fought with better double espressos? I'm seeing a vanilla latte showdown here, and I venture to say that, right now, you can get a 4 or 5 out of 10 vanilla latte at about any cafe you venture into. Nice thought, but I don't see it.

My 2 cents... absolutely worth the price :)
All great points, which brings me back to my first post, most folks, at least HERE, don't care if the drink is an 8 or a 9, just like Brady states. I promise you, they won't care if starbux is better than mcDs for a dollar difference, they want to save the dollar. That's here, it may not be like that where you are. McDonalds is now renting movies out of a box at their stores for you guessed it, a dollar. People won't say "no, I'm going to blockbuster for a better selection" or "I am spending my money at mom & pops video." Now, I realize that lattes are not movies, but for me, the point remains the same. Walmart, mcds, lowes, all of the giants want to offer as much as they can to keep folks coming into their stores, a one stop shop. Now I doubt that we will all go the way of the MSNBC link above & file bankruptcy, but that is in fact the Darwinism of which they speak. The specialty stores such as Zales jewelers (read an 8 or 9 scale latte) are being pushed out by the chains that offer a lower price & variety of items. IMHO, of course.
I'm not going to directly bad-mouth the Evil Green Mermaid for a couple of reasons, for one, it isn't good business. Secondly, because they gave me a career.

It is easy to forget that Starbucks created an economic environment that fosters the growth of independently owned espresso shops.

Before Howard Schultz turned on his first espresso machine in Pike Place Market in Seattle, the coffee industry consisted of Dunkin' Doughnuts, 7-11, and Folgers (a.k.a. "drip" brewed at home). This is still widely true in the southern area of the United States and parts of the east coast.

Starbucks created a "need" in the minds of people to leave their house a few extra minutes in the morning to get their coffee from a retail location. The masses justified this because is it, "only $3.50" per day (times two, three, or even five times a day, 20 days per month).

It quickly became a symbol of status to carry a paper cup of "coffee" (milk with shots ... or even just steamed milk) with a popular logo on it. Just as "Coke" has become synonymous with "soda/pop", the Starbucks image made coffee "cool" verses something your grandmother drank each morning.

This is not to say that having Starbucks as a neighbor is easy, I compete with 16 stores within 4 miles of my shop, but I am never quick to forget what the Mermaid has done for the industry.
Awesome! That´s it in short!!

I've been at Starbucks for a year and a half now. It's been my first job as a "barista". I put that in quotes because I know we're trained monkeys in comparison the the skilled artisans that many independent baristas are. In fact, I'm rather eager to leave Starbucks and get some real experience tamping and pulling my own shots, etc... Starbucks, however, does offer benefits for the starting barista that I can't see being rivaled. After tips I'm almost making $9/hr. There's also insurance plans and the ability to transfer almost anywhere in the country that you need to.

As much as I want to, it's not easy to give that up...
Hi Aaron,
I´ve worked in Coffeeshop for 2 years. I had a good training, i made competitions (not very successful :-) ), trained other baristas etc. . But there were a lot of disputes between me and my boss, and i have to look around where i can work. My city is very small, and there aren´t a lot of Coffeeshops. I gave my application to starbucks and now i will start to work there in May. They made me a good offer, i get my money regularly, overtime will be paid etc.
We will see what will happen.
I will miss to pull my shots and make my milk, but......
...me question is: it was written in newspaper that starbucks will replace their espressomaschines again, and they will switch on "handmade" coffee. Is that true?
THX for reading an answering

greetz from Dortmund
I'm not aware of any such upcoming changes. Our store uses the Verissimo machine which is completely modular. So much money is invested in those machines, I can't imagine they'd change anytime soon, especially not to any kind of manual machine. Starbucks needs to make lots of drinks and make then quickly.
Hi Aaron, Starbucks is changing to a new Thermoplan Machine at all locations, 30% of the stores this year and the other 70% next year. Go to the Starbucks web site and read the notes from the stock holders meeting, also the Seattle times had a big article on the subject after the stock holders meeting and it was on new stations that night. The company will still have superautos.

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