January 8, 2008

Return of da King

Shultz at meeting.jpeg Schultzie's back! In the year since Uncle Howard stepped aside from his day job (running Starbucks) to spend time on sexy stuff like movies and music and yogurt, the company's stock price dropped by half. Not good for an outfit that claims to be the world's most popular retailer. Worse, customers started complaining.

Okay, with tens of thousands of employees, most of them part-timers, responsible for customer satisfaction, you can't get it right every time. But the premium coffee biz that Starbucks created has become competitive as hell, and those customers have plenty of choices. Schultzie decided that his hand-picked successor as company prez, Jim Donald, wasn't paying enough attention.

(Not that Schultzie's been all that responsive himself, selling off the Sonics to a bunch of right-wing investors from Oklahoma. What kind of hometown loyalty does that show your Seattle customers?)

Now, there are plenty of heart-warming Starbucks stories, none more uplifting than Michael Gates Gill's How Starbucks Saved My Life. But that's beside the point. The 800-pound gorilla of fast-food retailing, McDonald's, is about to get serious about the coffee game, hiring and training hundreds of baristas to staff new espresso bars.

Gulp! One thing's for sure: Schultzie ain't lovin it.

Posted by Ronald Holden at January 8, 2008 9:01 AM | TrackBack

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hi again -
Just wanted for the record to state that I did not jump from Yuban to Starbucks. I used to buy beans from the GOOD COFFEE COMPANY in Pike Place Market as well as from Carter's in the U district (funnily enough that is now the site of Micky D's). Was grinding and Chemex filtering my own cuppa long before any of us ever heard of a barista.

I was comparing BEANS to BEANS, not freeze dried don't-know-what to beans. Jamaica Blue MTN and Sumatra were a couple of my faves.

Posted by: Stephanie at January 8, 2008 12:37 PM

Let me add to the "overroasted" debate: it's a canard, a phoney distraction, like Howard Dean's "scream," promulgated by the enemy camp until it became an accepted truism. But it isn't even true. Starbucks coffees are more flavorful than MJB or Hills Bros. because they're made with arabica beans. The Starbucks "full city roast" is hardly "overroasted."

Then again, I can't defend a lot of the sugary crap served at Starbucks.

Posted by: Ronald at January 8, 2008 12:24 PM

I'm glad Shultzies back! Keep that over roasted coffee coming. It's sort of their trademark, and I rememeber back in the 70's thinking how "exotic" it tasted after drinking cups of Yuban.

Posted by: Trisha at January 8, 2008 12:14 PM

When the news on the taste test that showed a higher rating for the Mickey D's coffee over Starbucks came out, that should have been a red flag the size of a basketball court for Shultz and his gang. I think maybe Dunkin Doughtnuts new "gourmet" coffee also rated better than Starbucks.
Many of us Seattle oldtimers have long thought that Starbucks overroasts their beans.

Posted by: Stephanie at January 8, 2008 11:39 AM
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