As some of you may have already seen, Starbucks
has plans for tomorrow. With Howard back at the reigns it seems he is pushing to bring the original ideals of the very first Starbucks stores back. As you can see on their website they are promoting a big change tomorrow, 04.08.08.
Thru a couple sources, I have read online that they will be implementing their original logo and original brown color scheme on some in-house print materials and cups. Have also heard they are planning on including the roast dates on coffee and I imagine espresso whole bean.
Another release I have heard is in the works is their "Pike Place Roast" which I imagine is a new house blend of sorts? Supposedly, with this "new" coffee they also plan to implement a shorter (30 minute) holding time for their brewed coffee.
The other day here in Portland, I walked by a Starbucks in a busy neighborhood here in Portland and was a bit shocked to see this sign on each of the doors:
This is at a location that is a block away from coffee bars including Peet's, Caffe D'Arte and numerous Stumptown accounts. Are they serious? They have their two super automatic machines pulling the "best" espresso in Portland?
So what does all this mean? Obviously, we are seeing a recognition from Howard, that the quality based independent retailer is
major competition. For years indy coffee houses have been raising the bar with education, quality coffee, and consumer awareness. Another aspect they are planning on focusing heavily on is customer loyalty. With substantial offers to card holders, the big green also sees the huge value in developing regular customers, like us independents try so hard to do.
This is all in addition to their purchase of the Clover, which I have heard is being called "fresh pressed" coffee in a couple cafes in Seattle, and can be ordered in ceramic cups, while the coffees being explained in detail to order.
I plan on following what goes on tomorrow, the next week, month, etc. very closely. As this industry becomes more and more competitive, it will be so key for all of us to have our finger on the pulse of where we are headed. Many of us are already doing many things right, but to succeed in many markets, everything must be perfect.
I am interested in hearing what others think about how this will effect the short and long term future of the industry. Can Starbucks really reposition themselves as the "neighborhood" coffee bar, which is quality driven?