Friday, February 17, 2006

Starbucks: The Helpful Behemoth

I'm not a coffee drinker. At all. But I know some of you out there are, and I thought you might be interested in this piece on Starbucks and coffee (incidentally, the whole blog is mostly about coffee, if you're really into that kind of thing). Give me a cold, bubbly glass of Pepsi over the vile bean anyday, but for the average coffee-obsessed twenty-something (or, god forbid, an employee at one of Starbucks' competitors), the issue of Starbucks' corporate power and wonderful/terrible coffee provides no end of conversation. For me, the interesting part of the article was a delightful debunking of the theory that Starbucks drives out smaller firms. While we all can think of an example of an independent coffee shop going out of business with the arrival of Starbucks, it is interesting to look at the long term effects of the growth in the coffee market provided (at least in part) by Starbucks:

According to the Portland Yellow Pages, before Starbucks came to Portland in 1989, there were 28 coffee shops in the city. Today, there are 91 non-Starbucks coffeehouses in Portland proper, compared with the chain's 48 stores within city limits.

It goes on to discuss the taste and preparation techniques of coffee at Starbucks, which I have no interest in. But if you are, read (or drink) the whole thing.


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