Let’s get one thing out of the way. Starbucks coffee tastes terrible. I think a friend of mine summed it up best when she said it tastes like “ashes”. End of subject.
So the big question is, why is Starbucks so popular? Why are there more than 6,400 stores worldwide? Why should people think “coffee” when they hear the word Starbucks? Why not Moby Dick? Or Battlestar Galactica?
1. “It’s expensive, so it must be good!” This idea seems to also work in the fashion world. Is a Gucci handbag really worth 2000 dollars? Of course not. But tell that to someone who can afford it.
2. “Look everybody, see those Gs on my handbag? ” So it goes with a person walking out of Starbucks. Their heads are high. “Look everybody, I can afford Starbucks.” If I could get a government grant of, let’s say, 245,000 dollars, I might be able to prove that people walking out of Starbucks keep the logo above the fingers and facing the public. Also, empty Starbucks cups probably stay on the office desk longer than other brands.
3. “It must be good, that’s all they sell here!” It’s true. Coffee is all they sell at Starbucks. And tea. And Scones. And Muffins. And Cake. And Turnovers. And Biscotti. And Mugs. And Travel Mugs. And Coffee Presses. And Hats. And music CDs. And DVDs. And Books. And The Wall Street Journal. And Gift Cards. And Personalized Gift Cards.
4. “Cozy cozy cozy!” I was in a McDonald’s just a few hours ago. My wife and I were each getting a cup to-go. And two apple-turnovers. As we were preparing to go, I realized that given the choice of sitting down with a cup of coffee and friend in a McDonald’s or a Starbucks, I would choose Starbucks. Not for the coffee, but for the atmosphere. I must admit, McDonald’s has a lot in common with the Moon: no atmosphere, and devoid of human inhabitants.
5. “I’ll have a . . . “ Remember in school, that really tough class? The teacher calls on you for an answer. You start to sweat. You’re not sure you have the right answer. Everyone stares at you. You say something, wondering if all will soon be laughing at you. The teacher looks at you, and . . . smiles. You did it! You did it! — That is what it feels like ordering at Starbucks. Eyeballing all the choices and then ordering something that no one laughs at gives a person a feeling of accomplishment. Look at the choices on the menu:
Milk – nonfat, Low Fat -AKA -Percent Breve – Soy – Organic – Foam –Wet Or Dry –Whipped Cream –Extra Hot (180 Degrees) –140 Degrees –Sugar, Sweet ‘n’ Low, Equal and Splenda –Caramel Sauce –Extra Ice/Less Ice –Upside Down –Double Blended – Coffee Frappuccino –Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino –Caramel Frappuccino –Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino –Java Chip Frappuccino –Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino –Mocha Frappuccino –Peppermint Mocha Twist Frappuccino –Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino –White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino – Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino –Mint Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino –Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino –Strawberries And Crème Frappuccino –Tazo Chai Frappuccino Blended Crème –Blended Crème Tazo Green Tea Frappuccino –Vanilla Bean Frappuccino Blended Crème –Espresso –Espresso Macchiato –Espresso Con Panna –Americano –Latte –Cappuccino –Caramel Macchiato –Mocha –White Mocha – Cinnamon Dolce Latte –Espresso Truffle –Gingersnap Latte –Peppermint Mocha Twist –Pumpkin Spice Latte –Syrup Flavored Latte –Vanilla Latte – Green tea, Black Tea, Herbal Tea, and decaf tea.
But in Starbucks, what brings relief is not the teacher saying “correct”, but the cashier saying “That’ll be $6.48.”
Fortunately, for the rest of us, there’s McDonald’s. Why is their coffee so good? Two reasons: Bunn coffee makers and Folgers coffee. The same winning combination that is in the Pippa kitchen. And no ashes in sight.