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 Now, the abundant comfy furniture and carpet have been replaced by hard chairs, tiled floors and if lucky, one or two arm chairs.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

How a Bear Can Define the Holidays » Aric Monts

As you all know, I am a huge fan of Starbucks, not because their coffee is great or their food is better than local places, but because Starbucks has become an American institution that defines the calendar year.

Take the holidays for instance.  Starbucks makes the following changes:

A) They decorate their stores with garland, lights, ornaments, and holiday cheer.

B) They introduce their signature snow flake, red coffee cup.

C) They add seasonal appropriate food items to the menu, including Grandma’s Turkey Sandwich for Thanksgiving and Cranberry Bliss Bar for Christmas.

Seeing these changes drives home the point that the holidays are here.  You can even set your clock by them.

This year, Starbucks has added an extra special cutie to their line of heart attack inducing treats, the polar bear iced sugar cookie.

Starbucks Polar Bear Iced Sugar Cookie

Starbucks Polar Bear Iced Sugar Cookie

Starbucks clearly has fun with defining the holidays and delivering delicious, seasonal treats, but does very little to help America solve its obesity problem (I am not blaming obesity on Starbucks).  At 440 calories, it has more calories than a grande mocha.  Consuming the two together, one will have consumed nearly 800 calories of pure junk.  Heck, it is the holidays, right?

As large and as cute as it is (reminds me of the Coca Cola polar bear of yesteryear), don’t be fooled, it contains 15 grams of sugar, 15 grams of saturated fat, and just 1 gram of protein.  Yep, this cutie is an artery clogging treat that one should have one of this year.  It is the epitome of holiday indulgence.

The next time you get your favorite coffee drink at Starbucks, grab one of those cute polar bears and enjoy a few minutes of yummy-ness.  Then go to the track and run it off.  Starbucks’ fun of defining the holidays is a the perfect example of appealing to your customer’s sweet side while embracing seasonality.

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From the main blog, aricmonts.com/blog

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

 

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!

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!

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!  

Don’t Forget the Details!

Today, I received my package from Starbucks containing two packs of their new VIA ready brew instant coffee.   It is not available locally here in Santa Barbara until the 29th of September, but you can order it online.  I am impatient so I order one pack of Italian Roast and one pack of Columbia and had it shipped. This was my first time ordering from StarbucksStore.com.

Opening the box, I was surprised to see a wonderful appreciation message with warm regards and a free pack of After Coffee Mints.  After digging through the package and extracting my goodies from the peanuts, I realized that something was missing from this Starbucks experience.  It was the detail of refined packaging with a human touch.

1) The appreciation letter is printed and feels more institutional.  Perhaps a signature at the bottom from someone at Starbucks would make it more personal and make me feel like I am reading something more important than an insert.

2) Opening the box and finding peanuts is old school and does nothing to inspire me to order again.  If Starbucks is going to use peanuts, be creative! Why not use peanuts in the shape of lattes or coffee beans?? Make the experience unique and you make it personal.

While I am extremely pleased with my order, transaction, and buying experience, I expected a more personal, unique experience from Starbucks.  Nothing stood out to me unpacking my order…  so un-Starbucks.

I firmly believe that if you have fun with the details and provide the customer with a unique experience, they will love you forever!