Why I Gave Up on Starbucks

Why I Gave Up on Starbucks

I used to be a huge fan of Starbucks.  The first time I walked into a Starbucks, I was mesmerized by the wonderful smell of coffee, the abundance of comfy, upholstered chairs and couches, the beautiful smiling baristas serving a tasty Mocha with a huge smile and a meaningful “How are you today?”

Things clearly change over time.  Unfortunately, Starbucks has become the very corporation that they saved us from so many years ago.

1. Now, you walk into a store and smell chemicals. 

2. Now, the abundant comfy furniture and carpet have been replaced by hard chairs, tiled floors and if lucky, one or two arm chairs.

3. Now the original Starbucks Gold club card that I enjoyed 10% discount, free drink customization, wifi, and other perks, has slowly been dismantled to simply be a frequent buyer’s card.  The latest nail in Starbucks coffin is the introduction of wifi to the general masses that doesn’t even work.   Clearly Starbucks gave out and decided they couldn’t, slowly taking the perks away without offering anything innovative in return…  my loyalty is rewarded with a frequent buyer’s card.

4. Now the “How are you today?” is no longer sincere.  Drinks are rarely presented with a smile. Instead, we see overworked Baristas trying hard to keep up with demand, yelling names out even though you are standing right in front of them.

5. Now the music is odd and doesn’t inspire productivity.  Before, we were treated to jazz, but today, something folkie and modern, played WAY too loud.  When I step into Starbucks,  I don’t want to step into a folk music concert.

6. Getting help is about the manager.  Before, Baristas took some of the responsibility and resolved issues quickly and happily.  Now, we are told to wait for the manager who doesn’t always know the answer.

7. Instant coffee from the company that saved us from instant coffee?  Yes, it is true and while I was taken aback by its introduction, the truth is that it is quite good.   Innovation can be good, but I still can’t quite get over instant coffee at Starbucks when they awakened the masses to freshly brewed coffee.

8. Starbucks wants to serve wine.  If this is true, I will never return to a Starbucks location.  To walk into a store and smell wine while sipping my coffee is only going to be an unpleasant experience.  I recall being stuck on a flight from Frankfurt to Dulles, next to a woman who constantly consumed red wine.  The smell of the wine made me want to vomit.  Starbucks, please, please, please don’t do yourself more damage and make me smell wine when I drink coffee.

Clearly the Starbucks experience has changed as all corporations do. Starbucks has joined the ranks of McDonald’s and Domino’s Pizza in the quest to deliver a mass produced product in a sterilized environment as quickly as possible.  Innovation took a backseat to replicating the fast food experience.

The very core of the Starbucks experience has been stripped away by corporate investors and rewarded with non-innovative frequent buyer’s cards.    There is nothing new and innovative here and I must give up on Starbucks to deliver what it mastered so well, a welcoming experience to enjoy coffee in and be productive that rewarded my loyalty.

Which Starbucks Product is the Best Buy?

Recently, the cost of coffee has been at the top of mind. It was put there shortly after Starbucks launched their new instant coffee product called VIA Ready Brew.  You can read a post on why I think it will succeed over at my main blog, Why Starbucks VIA Ready Brew will Succeed.

With VIA in Starbucks stores, the number of caffeine fixing product choices available to Starbucks customers is a little overwhelming.  You have three sizes of drip, whole/ground beans to brew your own, a long list of customizable milk based espresso drinks and now VIA Ready Brew.  But which one gives you the most bang for the buck?  That is what I want to know. 

After doing some research and compiling some data, I created the attached chart. 
Coffee, Serving Size, Cost

Clearly, you can see that the best value per ounce is actually the classic Folgers Instant. However, when walking into a Starbucks store, your best choice is the brew it yourself bag of beans at $0.05 per ounce.  

If you don’t have time to brew it yourself and are on the go, ask for a Venti Drip… $0.11 per ounce with 20 ounces of goodness. Next, go for the 12-pack of VIA Ready Brew and mix it once you get to work.  

Stay away from the milk based latte, mocha, frappies, etc. They can cost you double the Venti Drip with a fraction of the caffeine in them.

There will be a more in depth discussion of coffee, caffeine and consumer choices coming up over at my main blog

 

Mypressi Twist | Wired.com Product Reviews

Excellent, Easy Espresso From an Affordable Portable Machine

The Twist uses cartridges of nitrous oxide (yes, whippits) to generate nine bars of pressure. This even stream of happy gas forces hot water through a compressed puck of grounds or an espresso pod. It makes only double doses, but a forked spout can split the portion. It’s dead easy to operate, and since a cartridge makes four pours, there’s not a lot of fiddling between rounds. Best yet, the thick, rich brew is just as good as what you’d get from a $2,000 countertop machine.

WIRED Excellent, creamy espresso. Gorgeous design. Works with pods and grounds. Easy to disassemble and clean.

TIRED Single shots pour unevenly if you don’t hold the unit level — tricky when you’ve had a few too many. No empty-cartridge indicator. Ineffective as an N2O delivery mechanism — we got a caffeine buzz with a nitrous jones.

  • Type: Coffee makers
  • Manufacturer: Mypressi
  • Price: $170

 

Anyone up for a Nitrous Oxide powered espresso?  As strange as it sounds, the nine bars of pressure is enough to deliver decent shots.

Why Starbucks VIA Ready Brew will Succeed!

Starbucks is certainly a company that knows how to sell coffee.  Heck, it was Starbucks that helped save us from the percolated Folger’s of yester-year.  They even saved us from those coffee crystals that our grandparents swore by for years.  

That is why many people are having a hard time with Starbucks’ new VIA Ready Brew instant coffee.  How dare the king of coffee take us back to the product that they saved us from.   However, this isn’t your grandparents’ coffee crystals. 

Sure I was skeptical, but I ordered a pack of each flavor, Columbia and Italian Roast, from starbucksstore.com to get an early taste here in California.  As I tore open the stylish package and dumped it in the cup, I realized that there was something different about it.  It looked absolutely nothing like the instant coffee that is currently on the market… it looked like coffee.  Imagine that! 

Adding the water and stirring it up produced a cup of coffee not that far from fresh brewed and without the wait.  Fresh brewed coffee, when done right, takes upwards of ten minutes to prepare (grind, heat water, pour, seep, taste, etc), but you can get something close in minutes with VIA. 

So, why do I think VIA Ready Brew will succeed? Here are the major points:

1) It is a refreshing 21st century take on the old instant coffee of yester-year.

2) VIA looks nothing like what is on the market: from the awesome slender pocket friendly packaging to the real coffee look of the product.

3) VIA comes with the wonderful Starbucks buying experience that we love of their retail stores.  Baristas with smiles simply can’t compete with the grocery store clerk when you buy Folger’s.

4) The product has many uses: sprinkle it on ice cream, add it to a vinegrette or your favorite brownies to please any coffee lover

5) It is great to take with you.  The ultra-portable and stylish packaging fits in your pocket/purse and all you

need is a cup and some hot water.  That stale workplace coffee will be getting even more stale with VIA Ready Brew in your cup!

6) Starbucks VIA Ready Brew is on a road trip and is all over the social media cloud.

While I was skeptical of VIA in the beginning, after spending one week with these little packets of awesome coffee goodness, I really think Starbucks have shaken up the instant coffee market by bringing us a pleasantly refreshed version of my grandparents hideous crystals.

What do you know… Starbucks has still saved us from instant coffee nightmares!