There really is no doubt that Starbucks started the whole decent coffee trend in the US back in the early nineties. Sure, you could find good coffee if you knew what it was and you lived in a place like San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Seattle, but basically, “coffee” was the crap you got at the local diner, or the crap you got from a can.
So, despite the super over-expansion of Starbucks in the last few years, I tended to have a soft spot for it. I knew that I could go there and despite the other crap they added to their menus, I could get a good cup of coffee. Sure, I had to start specifying the “bold” roast instead of their insipid “breakfast blend” and other weak-sister appeasements to those who should be drinking at McDonalds, but I could get it.
I noticed in the last year, year and a half, when I did go to Starbucks, I started getting bad coffee. Not just not what I expected. Not just weak. But bad. Basically undrinkable. This was inconsistent at first. I would try again, and the next time, it would be a bit better, and still above the bar as drinkable. However, in the last few months, that changed. Even after Schultz closed all Starbucks for a few hours to “trained in creating the perfect shot,” the coffee still as bad — actually, that is when it became consistently bad.
Shultz started his reorganization of Starbucks in January, and said he was going to, essentially, go back to basics: great coffee. And, stop selling the re-heated breakfast food.
So, what happened?
First, the coffee is bad. Undrinkable. I actually got my coffee this morning from Panera, which is right next to Starbucks, because I knew that Starbucks would not be better, and Panera has great scones.
And, in one of the most obviously commitee-driven chicken-sh* decisions I have ever seen a major corporation do… Well, here it is, verbatim from the Wall Street Journal:
“Starbucks Corp. plans to keep selling warm breakfast sandwiches at its stores and will change their recipes in an effort to minimize their smell, the company confirmed Friday.”
That is the final nail. Starbucks is officially dead. All they really have is coffee, and that is now as bad as the stuff I used to drink before Starbucks changed the world. And now, their “management” can’t even pull the plug on one of the most bone-headed decisions they made as a company.
Now, I’m a Peets man – have been for over thirteen years. The coffee cups have the same motif as 1994. They play classical music, just like in 1994. They have the same sizes. You go into a Peets, and you know you are not only in a coffee place, but you know you are in a special coffee place. Peets kicks you in the ass; it is great coffee.
Starbucks was a close second, to me. Their French and Italian roasts were excellent, and on par with Peets. But, now you get “Pikes Peak Blend” which might as well be pushed by Mrs. Olson.
It’s really too bad. Why does quality have to suffer when going mass-market? Why do executives lose their balls when companies get big? They can claim “bacause we’ll lose money!” or “the risk is too high!”. Bull-sh*. Starbucks is dead, and declining. This is a lesson in how to kill a brand. Cheapen the hell out of it, and watch it die.