Insta-Charbucks

Check out this link, brought to my attention by my friend, Jason.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/02/12/financial/f150640S34.DTL

As if Starbucks wasn’t any more accessible, they have now announced that they will be releasing a patent-pending instant coffee with hopes of increasing revenue in the economic decline.  The instant coffee will 

“Absolutely replicate the taste of Starbucks coffee in an instant form” – Vivek Varma, Starbucks spokesperson.

A few thoughts on this:  I have no doubt in my mind that they will be able to replicate the signature Charbucks taste.  That’s not very difficult.  Licking the underside of a public toilet seat has a very similar flavor profile – complex, rich, earthy, and sometimes savoury.  But what boggles my mind is that it has taken 20 years to “perfect” this technology.  20 years to hone a technology to replicate a mediocre flavor seems counter-productive.  I also think this is probably something that has come out of necessity, rather than vision, due to the financial hit Starbucks has taken over the last couple years.  They are further propagating the ‘commodity’ image of coffee, rather than elevate it.  However, I do see that there are some silver-linings out of this.  I suppose you could commend Starbucks for introducing a ‘higher-quality’ product in the instant coffee market, (hopefully) including coffees that are sourced with some sort of decent, ethical, quality focus.  And I suppose my viewpoint is one from a barista working in a small, independent, extremely quality-driven cafe, which is obviously an entirely different world than the Starbucks conglomerate.  But for a company who I thought was trying to revitalize their image as a quality-focused entity, buying out Clover, introducing more ‘barista’ centered cafes etc., this move seems to dilute their image, and pull the company in a different direction.  

Also, the line at the end of the article  mentioned a possible introduction of value meal-like ‘breakfast pairings’ for a nickel under $4.  Great.  As if the caramel “macchiato” wasn’t a glutinous feast by itself already, now I can get a side of cake to start my day off.  Maybe we’ll get to “starbucks-size it” too – for $1 more you can upgrade your latte into the half gallon bucket size.  And why buy Insta-Charbucks when you can make it at home just as easily?  Here’s my recipe for instant coffee that “absolutely replicates the taste of Starbucks coffee”:

 

If I was a coffee cup, I'd do the same

If I was a coffee cup, I'd do the same

 

 

Jer’s Charbucks Delight Caramel Instanttiatto, Patent-Pending, ®©℠™

Ingredients:

  • Water
  • Soil

Directions:

  1. Boil water.
  2. Add to soil.
  3. Schedule Press-Release.
  4. Introduce fried chicken at select cafe’s.
  5. Profit
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3 thoughts on “Insta-Charbucks

  1. When I read that article, it definitely hit me that this is a very sucksbucks thing to do. The second part of their name bucks (first part being sux) is what this is all about. They have inappropriately been associated with quality coffee by the average american redneck. So for the average home drinker of folgers, maxwell house, or nescafe, they can now enjoy the quality that is starbucks for a fraction the price (i’m thinking instant coffee price but with the signature 1-100% more in price).

    Anyways, to sum up my point, they are now in a new, more average-joe demographic that they have not been able to reach in the past. New demographic = new untapped profits.

    Does nothing for coffee but brings in more monies. Jer, let’s work on that insta-dirt idea. Run suxbux out of binnis.

  2. From a msn conversation with Jer:

    But yeah, you have to realize that the general populace will always be mediocre in everything it does.
    It’s the definition of average.

    Take ANYTHING you have a passion for and in your eyes, the general population will be always going for the inferior product.

    Before starbucks, what was the general populace’s understanding of coffee? Probably something like Folgers. What were the coffee snobs of the past thinking of? The original starbucks probably?
    OK, now in the present, the Starbucks becomes the new average, and the coffee geeks are the snobs.

    (I know the current Starbucks model is probably vastly different than the original incarnation…but I think my point still holds).

    OK, having said that, I must say the move towards the instant coffee market is a decidedly step back. But that’s just a company capitalizing on it’s brand name.
    Good thing? I guess if you own stocks in Starbucks, you hope its a good thing. Good move for the general direction of coffee appreciation? Probably not.

  3. Mike – I agree. I think with this new recession, many people are possibly cutting out more expensive coffee and going a step under. So lots of new, quality-driven indies may lose a customer. In this way, Starbucks may have opportunity to gain this shift.

    Another way of looking at it is that many people are dropping out of the Starbucks price point cafe and going to more Timmy’s, McDonald’s style coffees. I suppose Starbucks is seeing this and this is a chance for them to capture this new demographic. New in that this is a demographic Starbucks has not targetted in the past.

    I think it’s more of the latter but possibly a combination of the two scenarios I wrote above.

    Dan – I agree with you, when you have people supremely passionate about something, people getting something less is definitely seen as inferior product. I’m not arguing with what Starbucks has brought to North America. They have for sure introduced a different concept of coffee, where everything was once instant and total swill. I’m not arguing that. But isn’t it ironic that they are now going back to making advancements in coffee through the ‘instant’ route? I suppose they are elevating coffee in a certain way (increasing the quality of instant). But it’s sort contradicting the image they recently were trying to build of being quality focussed. Also, I don’t think people in coffee are reliant on Starbucks being the major driving force of improving coffee. I think that’s all in the hands of the “new waves”.

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