The “New” Starbucks Experience: Open Thread

On the heels of 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea, comes the news that Starbucks is planning another “neighborhood” coffee shop called Roy Street Coffee and Tea to open this fall.

Now, I’ll be honest. I don’t really like Starbucks’ coffee. However, I never really had a problem with the company. They have done a lot for the coffee culture in this country and I believe they are part of the reason that coffee shops (in general) have a much higher success rate as businesses than restaurants.

Plus, no matter how many Starbucks there are in this city, the small independent coffee shops are doing quite well. So I certainly don’t see them as a big evil corporation. From what I’ve read, they try to do good and working there is a pretty good experience (unless of course, you were one of the many they laid off over the past two years).

However, this whole rebranding just doesn’t sit well with me. It feels like they are trying to be something they aren’t. I’m all for their baristas pulling shots by hand again and trying new things (like the pour over brew), but why not just embrace the fact that they’re Stabucks? They are the big giant coffee shop with the green sign and the modest siren on the door. They are the ubiquitous coffee shop. The one I can find in every town I visit, and I can always expect pretty much the same thing.

I know when I go to Dallas for a trade show, without a car, that I can find predictable coffee in the Starbucks in the hotel. I know that I will pay a reasonable amount for it, and that I will get what I expect.

I guess I just wish they would stick to what made them popular in the first place.

But that’s just me. What do you think?

6 Comments so far

  1. SP (unregistered) on August 28th, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

    AGREED! I credit Starbucks and its innovative staff for coming up with feasible ideas for re-inventing the Starbucks image, but I think the re-branding in general is rather silly, especially if the product is the same. Now, if these re-branded shops are serving different versions of Starbucks coffee, then perhaps it makes sense.
    Another gripe I have with this re-branding strategy is why all of these new shops appear in Capitol Hill. Why not expand to other neighborhoods of Seattle?


  2. josh (unregistered) on August 28th, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

    I think it’s a bit of a weird and mildly clumsy experiment, but I can’t get too angry about a big company trying to go back to pulling shots by hand, ditching the icecachinos, turning down the fluorescents, and working with local vendors for foods.

    As far as I can tell, having a bunch of cafes near each other hasn’t been harmful in Seattle; so I suspect that this will only help North Broadway and not hurt Joe Bar (or Starbucks or Vivace or Bhima or Dilettante or …)


  3. Sean Bonner (seanbonner) on August 28th, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

    I’m with holding judgment until I actually get to see one but if it ups the quality of the coffee they are serving them I’m all for it. I too agree that the greatest value for someone like me who travels all the time is that it’s really consistent and I know exactly what I’m getting anywhere in the world before I order it which can’t be said for random local shops – that said if I can get the insider info about which random local shops are super good I’d much rather go to one of those. Unfortunately there is a lot of bad coffee out there.


  4. Sophia Katt (unregistered) on August 29th, 2009 @ 7:33 am

    I think stalking all the coffee shops on 15th E. for two months and then slavishly copying them while painting a sentence on the door saying that their re-branded shop is “inspired by Starbucks” is a crock.

    And they only started doing this when McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts ate up their large ubiquitous coffee shop margins producing coffee just as bad as Starbuck’s at lower prices. As far as I’m concerned this is just a margin grab from the little guys who don’t have the deep pockets to fight back. I won’t buy at the Fauxbucks on 15th, and I certainly won’t buy at the Fauxbucks on Roy.


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