Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Do you need room for milk?

I like coffee. I really like coffee. My wife says I'm a snob, but the truth is that I merely like good, strong coffee. As someone who avoids the Wal-marts, McDonalds and Millers of the world because they trample on the little guy, Starbucks is a bit of an ethical speed bump for me. On one hand, it's a giant corporation with shops popping up like stink weeds all over town. On the other, they have the best coffee I can wrap my hands around in the morning (and evening). There's many things I don't like about the place. The silly fountain drinks, the droning lite jazz soundtrack and the 'tall, grande or vente?' all bother me. I order a large drip and yes, I usually do have a great day.

Many people I know think Starbucks coffee sucks - it's too bitter and too expensive. As for the expense, it's just like beer, people pay a premium for what they perceive as quality. And the thing about it being bitter, well I think these people probably like the brown water from other so-called coffee shops. I could say that I would much rather give my business to an independent coffee house if there were one close and convenient to me. But the truth is, I like the coffee at Starbucks.

This makes me think about beer and whether I would buy it from a conglomerate if its products were as ballsy as its marketing campaign. It doesn't seem possible that AB or Coors can suddenly made big, roasty imperial stouts without their board of directors flipping out. But why? Starbucks offers an edgy product that is certainly not in the mainstream ... and they make a lot of money. The reason is, like a large oil tanker, the macro brewer in today's world is too big and moving too steady to enable it to change course. But it's an interesting supposition. Small brewers have nothing to fear from AB. Personally, I would love to try a Miller Russian Imperial Stout.

But, alas, we all know that smaller is better. It allows for distinction and diversity. It fosters new ideas and improvements. And ultimately, it is the reason the entrepreneurial spirit lives here today. I believe all that, I really do, but I still like Starbucks.


At 11:08 AM, Blogger Fermental said...

If you moved to Philly you could drink great locally produced coffee. :)

Olde City and La Columbe - yum.

Don't feel guilty Tom; if you can't get good stuff locally then you gotta go for quality.

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Hunahpu said...

Some people will reject a product, simply because it is produced by a large corporation. I say, hogwash. I will only reject a product because it is not good.

For instance, recently, I was approached by a PR firm to review beer on my blog. When I inquired further, I found out that it was for a company that produces watery mega-swill. I declined.

However, I did not decline because it was a mega-corporation. In fact, if it were say Sam Adams, I might of felt more favorably toward it. The Boston Beer Company, who makes Sam Adams, is quite large, but they produce a quality product, in my opinion.


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