February 18, 2009

Americans do bad coffee

"the man who set out to improve Americans’ taste in coffee"

So describes the NYTs, with no irony, the man who started Starbucks.

If Starbucks is an improvement, I have no wish to contemplate the dire, direst - much direr than climate change doomsday predictions - state of any other coffee being drunk in the US of A.

Starbucks is going into the instant coffee making business.

Just when you thought the worst days of instant coffee were behind us.

(Oh, all except Nescafe, of course, which is coffee essence, not coffee.)

Starbuck's coffee, now in instant


  1. Anonymous12:18 AM

    The wife adores Starbucks. I don't mind it, but I only have a black coffee and that is usually not so bad. The thing about Starbucks is the cost: €6 for a fancy coffee? That's $12 bucks, FFS!

    The locals here might bag the US at every opportunity but the Starbucks over this way are ALWAYS full. Here are a couple of photos of the first Starbucks to open here: Photo 1 and Photo 2. Lines out the door are a regular Saturday feature at the downtown Starbucks. Unbelieveable.

  2. We're certainly spoilt for choice for coffee in Melbourne, which I guess may be why Starbucks has never had much success... when I was over in America a lot of places seemed to have a huge vat of coffee that was kept heated from which they'd pour a drink for individual customers. Not exactly a complex operation! I thought of the American idea of coffee then - and still do now - as petrol for the body. It's distilled and drunk in an industrial fashion.

  3. Consumer Reports, an independent group that tests all kinds of products, recently ran a coffee taste test and Starbucks didn't fare well at all. The old fashioned Eight O'Clock coffee won the best flavor category and came in way cheaper than the overpriced Starbucks.

    I've never succumbed to the lure of Starbucks which is being seen buying incredibly overpriced products at a place where the cool people hang out and buy incredibly overpriced products to be seen as cool, etc., etc.. A vicious cycle that I avoided like the plague, but that's just me.

  4. Dylan, that's probably not nearly as sad as the day that the first Krispy Kreme donut shop opened in Melbourne, in some ferel west side suburb: people lined up during the night to be "the first" to get a newfangled American donut.

    (A tiny little Krispy shop front finally opened in the midst of the CBD late last year, so some years after there arrival, I have now tried the donuts.)

    Starbucks does have its Australian fans Timmy, but damned if I can understand why. They did nothing to adapt to local conditions. They clearly thought "American coffee" was "good" coffee, little appreciating that we have had real Italians and real coffee down under for many decades.

    My gripe with it was that a "strong" coffee still tasted like a pond of dirty dish water with a dirty sock squished through it. Oh, that and the more than $5 price for a large cup. Hell, I could go to the pub and get drunk for $5! (Mind you, I very happily pay $5.20 for a large coffee milkshake from Hudsons!)

    Yes Cube, Starbucks has a poor pricing model, quite unjustified by the product. As Tim noted, we are spoiled for choice for coffee places and variety of coffee in Melbourne. Hell, just within easy walking distance of my home I have a choice of several dozen cafes. In the CBD there's a coffee choice every few metres, so if some place makes a bad coffee they lose business quick smart - people don't have to put up with lousy coffee here, they can move on to the next place.

    When Starbucks closed lots of stores globally last year I think they only left one store in Melbourne. They never did crack the market, even after a seven year, or so, presence.