Celebrate Earth Day at Starbucks

Post ImageEarth Day is coming up this weekend, and that means it’s about time for companies to capitalize on the environment being so prevalent in our social conscience. Sharon told me about this last week (not sure how she knew), but I just found the press release from Starbucks:

On Sunday, April 22, customers who bring in their own reusable tumbler will receive a complimentary cup of Café Estima Fair Trade coffee.

And as always, if you bring a reusable mug in to get your coffee, you’ll save ten cents. The press release highlights other “green” efforts from Starbucks, including their Post-Consumer Fibre Cup, Ethos Water, Grounds for Your Garden program, and more.

I think they should have launched new sleeves with Earth trivia on them! You know, like the “Akeelah and the Bee” sleeves they came out with last April. Speaking of trivia, my Dad is posting Earth trivia on Tuesdays, so feel free to go show him how smart you are.

Here’s a random thought for the day: maybe we should rename “Earth Day” to “Gore Day”! After all, when you think Al Gore doesn’t the word environment come to mind? Maybe it’s just me.

Read: Newswire.ca

Starbucks Records featuring Sir Paul?

Post ImageThe New York Post seems to think that Starbucks is gearing up to launch a record label, called Starbucks Records. Creative, isn’t it? Of course a record label needs musicians, and to that end, Starbucks is going after none other than Sir Paul McCartney himself (via 901am):

Starbucks Records is expected sign, record and produce its own artists rather than licensing songs from other labels.

That’s where Sir Paul comes in. The wrinkly rocker not only fits with the Starbucks demographic, but also is a free agent not signed to any label, sources said.

The reason Starbucks thinks they can do this is their targeted, efficient distribution channel. I mean they have stores on just about every corner in major cities, and they attract a very specific clientele.

If it’s just putting CDs on racks in their stores though, Starbucks is missing a big opportunity. The Post article mentions a good idea:

There have been talks about putting kiosks in its shops so that customers can shop for music and create their own compilations while waiting for their $5 cup of joe.

That would be awesome! There should also be a DRM-free digital component to the project.

To say they are creating a “record label” sounds fairly antiquated to me. Starbucks should use this opportunity to redefine the term “record label.”

Read: New York Post

Free Starbucks on March 15

Post ImageCoffee addicts rejoice! I just came across this excellent news at the Starbucks Gossip blog:

Next Thursday, all company-operated and licensed Starbucks stores in the U.S., Canada, and other countries will give away free Tall (12-ounce) cups of coffee to anyone who drops by for the second annual Starbucks Coffee Break.

What a great idea! I’m so there.

Read: Starbucks Gossip

Cowgirls Espresso

Post ImageCall me shallow, but yeah, I’d buy coffee from Cowgirls Espresso. I mean, who wouldn’t want to buy coffee from their hot baristas? There’s a ton of coffee shops out there, so you need to be different if you’re going to succeed. That’s what the Cowgirls Espresso chain is going for:

Hot is not the half of it. To stand apart from the hordes of drive-through espresso stands that clutter the Northwest’s roadsides, commuter coffee stops such as Tukwila’s Cowgirls Espresso are adding bodacious baristas, flirty service and ever more-revealing outfits to the menu.

They aren’t the only ones either – the trend is dubbed “sexpresso”.

I doubt we’ll see any of these coffee shops in the colder climates of Canada any time soon, but it’s an interesting bit of marketing nonetheless.

Read: Seattle Times

Meth Coffee

Post ImageCould they not come up with another name? Will people actually buy this coffee simply because it has the word “meth” in its name? I found this via Agenda Inc., in a post titled “First Cocaine energy drink, now Meth Coffee.” That about sums it up – what in the world is going on with the marketing industry!

If you’re just trying it for the first time, don’t throw back five cups like regular coffee. Ease into it. Have a little. Feel the rush, the euphoria, the smooth-edged high. Then go for more, if you want. Yeah, get into it. Make a dance up…program in assembly language…write your first novel…plot to overrule the planet.

Of course, as the About page points out:

CONTAINS NO ACTUAL METHAMPHETAMINES, I.E., CRANK, GLASS, SPEED, CRYSTAL, BATU, SHABU, MABU, CRACKHOO, ETC. PRODUCT NOT WARRANTED TO CURE ECZEMA, EDEMA, ACNE, CONSTIPATION, TOURETTE’S, OR GUM DISEASE.

Thanks for clearing that up. For a second there I thought I could actually get coffee with meth in it!

What’s next, the XTC Hamburger?!

Read: Meth Coffee

Breakfast at Starbucks

Post ImageWhen I go to Starbucks I order coffee and nothing else. I avoid the pastries because, well, they suck. Even the rice krispie squares, which are one of my favorite treats, just aren’t very good at Starbucks. I’d definitely be willing to try one of their new breakfast sandwiches though (via Starbucks Gossip):

In the frenzy of grab-and-go breakfast that seizes the nation each morning, the trek from Starbucks (for coffee) to McDonald’s or another destination (for food) has become a familiar one. Even as Starbucks has developed a mass following for its dark, super-roasted coffee and its iced, frothed, blended and flavored offspring, the company has struggled to get its food up to par.

Thus, the latest move by Starbucks is a big one: challenging McDonald’s by introducing hot egg-and-cheese sandwiches on English muffins, just as McDonald’s is promoting its new higher quality coffee.

And from the sounds of things there is more food on the way. They don’t have kitchens in the stores, but instead have invested in “high-speed, high-heat” ovens. It appears as though lots of effort has gone into solving the no-kitchen-problem, and even McDonald’s is impressed with the solution Starbucks has come up with:

“It’s a fine technology,” admitted Mr. Thompson of McDonald’s. “We won’t use it, but it’s surprisingly good.”

I’m a big fan of the Egg McMuffin, but who knows, maybe the Starbucks ovens can really produce something good. Hopefully some of the Canadian Starbucks stores get updated soon so I can find out!

Read: NY Times

Starbucks: 87,000 Drink Combinations

Post ImageAnd you thought deciding between a Grande and a Venti was hard! In the December 18th issue of Time there is a really great article about Starbucks and the challenges it faces as it grows. Currently there are around 12,440 locations worldwide and the goal is to expand to 40,000 – more than even McDonald’s. Also included in accompanying graphics are some interesting stats, such as the number of drink combinations:

Historically, Starbucks has done a great job at balancing new ideas with efficiency, says Frances Frei, a professor at Harvard business school who has studied the company. A classic example: the way it trains us to order in Starbucks jargon, grande this and half-caff that. Serving tens of thousands of possible drink combinations would be an operational nightmare were it not for a regimented logic to ordering, a marketing flourish that helps establish the atmosphere of an Italian cafe.

I always chuckle when people walk into Starbucks and order a non-fat, extra-hot, double-shot, no-whip, blah blah blah kind of drink. Why do they even bother drinking the coffee? I had never really thought about these combinations from the perspective of Starbucks, however. When you consider the 87,000 possible combinations, it’s amazing that half of Starbucks locations average 3 minutes per customer (less than 60% do according to the article).

I’ll probably still chuckle when someone orders what sounds to me like an incredibly complex drink, but at least now I’ll know this: it could have been worse!

Read: Time

Coke Coffee

Post ImageI am the first person to admit that I am a brand whore. I know it, and I don’t really care. A brand I have a particular allegiance to is Coke. As a bit of a Coca Cola addict, I tend to love all things Coke. The whole New Coke fiasco? I prefer to believe it was brilliantly planned and executed, whether it was or not. I also love Starbucks, both coffee and brand. So when I heard that Coke was going to be testing the coffee beverage waters, I was a little excited and a little torn between the two. The news is actually a little old I guess, but here’s the story from Forbes:

It’s a small deal that could pack a big pop, or just a little fizz. Coca-Cola has quietly leased a 4,000-square-foot retail space in Toronto. While it’s just a storefront, it foreshadows what insiders say is the beverage giant’s dreams of dunking Starbucks in its own brew.

They have trademarked the name FarCoast for this hot beverage experiment, which launched in Toronto at the same time as Coca-Cola Blak, described as a “Coca-Cola Classic-based beverage that finishes with a rich essence of coffee.” Here’s an old press release on Blak that I was able to find. I seem to recall hearing about it, but it seems much further along now.

I’m going to be in Toronto in May, so I will definitely have to check this place out if its up and running.

Read: Forbes

Starbucks in the Middle

Post ImageYou know how everyone jokes about Starbucks being absolutely everywhere? Well it’s true, in case you were wondering, and someone named Cory has computed the central point for all Starbucks in Manhattan, or as he calls it, the “center of gravity”:

What does “center of gravity” mean? Well, it means the exact place you can stand in Manhattan and be closest to ALL Starbucks. As if every single Starbucks was pulling you equally in its direction, this is the place where u could stand to feel the most Starbucks power…and not just within a few blocks radius, but for the whole Island!

Gawker does a nice job of summarizing:

Thanks to an array of disturbing mathematical calculations, some dorky-hot fellow has calculated the Starbucks Center of Gravity for Manhattan — the single location where you can be closest to all other Starbucks. Described as existing “somewhere between 5th and 6th, in between 39th and 40th,” this Starbucks is the Ground Zero of corporate coffee.

I’ll be sure to visit that Starbucks if I ever get to New York!

Read: Cory’s Weblog

Starbucks vs. Second Cup at Christmas

Post ImageAs a self-described caffeine addict, I end up spending a lot of money on drinks at Christmas from Starbucks and Second Cup. When I need a good fix, I usually just have my Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks, but when it’s Christmas I tend to have a lot of lattes (and I guess, less caffeine). I realize that Starbucks vs. Second Cup is nothing like Coke vs. Pepsi, but it’s interesting nonetheless. My Grandma, for example, prefers Second Cup while I prefer Starbucks – but what about at Christmas? Here’s a quick comparison:

  • In terms of the cups, I think Second Cup wins. I really like the red cup at Starbucks, but the Second Cup one looks so much more festive (and more colorful!). I also like that they make the cardboard sleeve pink too. That being said, Starbucks has the much better marketing campaign! Check out http://www.theredcup.com.
  • My favorite drink of all is definitely the Eggnog Latte at Starbucks. Unfortunately there is nothing similar at Second Cup.
  • Both shops have a Gingerbread Latte, but I think the Second Cup version tastes much better.
  • The Peppermint Mocha at Starbucks and the Candycane Latte at Second Cup are somewhat similar, but I much prefer the Peppermint Mocha.
  • I don’t buy hot chocolate, so I am not sure how their respective holiday versions stack up!

What’s your favorite? Any other coffee houses with good Christmas offerings?