It started for me sometime in the early 90′s. I was mostly always broke but occasionally I would drive a couple of miles (now you need only walk two steps in any direction) to the Starbucks in the Chicago suburb I was living. It was truly a treat in those days, kind of like meeting someone at a bar for a drink only for coffee. Like a destination place or an event.
The first time I went to Seattle I was blown away. Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, (who Starbucks now owns) on every corner, mid block, office buildings and of course the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market. It was like the shrine of Starbucks. I could be a two-fisted coffee drinker and never be out of sight of a Starbucks. I thought I was in coffee heaven. Then, years later something changed.
I live in Colorado now and I started to see Starbucks on every corner, sometimes two across the street from each other, in hotels, in grocery stores, it’s like they were everywhere. Oversaturating the market, oversaturating my brain and eventually oversaturating my money. It became so routine to stop and get a Starbucks coffee that it became ordinary, I would just run in get the coffee and run out. No more coffee house experience, no more fun just the rising prices of their coffee.
For a number of years there was little room to sit inside some of the smaller cafes as they cluttered it up with overpriced coffee pots, cups, bags of coffee beans, games, cd’s, books etc. to sell to us coffee lovers that just basically wanted a reasonably priced latte. It never came, the prices just kept going up. As Starbucks ate up every corner and pedestrian hot spot available many small private coffee shops fell by the wayside.
So, now over the last few years we are finding out Starbucks bit off a little more than they could chew. Trying to monopolize and be greedy didn’t quite work out. Over the last few years they have been closing down stores, some rather newly built They are trying new things like introducing wine in some cafes, which isn’t catching on I hear and still the price of their coffee goes up. They now sell overpriced oatmeal, anemic looking fruit bowls and of course the soon-to-be-really popular overpriced INSTANT coffee.
Now the reason Starbucks roots are in freshly brewed coffee is because most of us coffee drinkers like freshly brewed coffee. I find it comical that the big PR blitz on their “new” instant Via at $2.95 for three packs (3 cups) is for real. Tons of money and research they claim went into this product that the average consumer knows is going to fall flat on its face. Starbucks publicity people say their test market areas of Chicago, Seattle and West London exceeded their expectations for Via. I’ll bet. And, I’ll also bet by next year you will be able to get it for half price at Sams Club
So I will get to my original point, I have always gotten a grande vanilla latte, it recently went up where I buy it in Colorado to $4.04 I have this thing in my head that I cannot and will not pay over $4.00 for a medium latte. Screw the Via, put the research and effort into finding out what customers really want. It’s the economy stupid! We want a break on the little things in life since the big things are overwhelming. And I don’t want some barista (totally stupid name, by the way) telling me that if I bought a Starbucks gold card and registered it (so they can keep track of what I buy) and jumped through this hoop I could get free vanilla and blah…blah…blah… I’m sure their will be a withdrawal period for me but at least I know that every day they will not be getting $4.04.