Wednesday, July 02, 2008

And now it's the coffee

Welcome to what is becoming a semi-regular feature here: Signs that the economy is bad. This one is definitely a candidate for our "Department of the Obvious" tag. MSNBC, and a bunch of other news outlets, are reporting that "Starbucks [is] to close 600 stores in the U.S." This should not come as a surprise to anyone who currently buys gasoline for their cars. It's either the 4 dollar latte or the fuel in your gas tank. Personally, I am thinking along the lines of it should have happened sooner. And I have no ill will to the company. Personally, I never had any interest in their coffee, and I always thought paying 4 bucks for a cup of something I can brew at home was foolishness. And before someone says that you pay for what you get, I will counter that you can buy a nice bag of coffee beans, grind them yourself, brew them at home, and you would still be ahead in terms of cost for your coffee fix. I am a coffee drinker by the way. I have been drinking coffee pretty much since I can remember. In fact, I have this theory that my parents may have blended fine Puerto Rican coffee bean with my baby formula. They had one of those old fashioned percolators (now there is a nice yet simple way to make good coffee), so I am sure pouring some directly into the bottle was not difficult. Now, this is strictly anecdotal.

These days, the budget is a bit tight, so I buy a canned brand (sorry, they are not paying me to mention them, so I am not telling) and brew my own. Overall, the story is an example of what happens when a non-essential product faces a tight economy. I will go out on a limb here and predict that a few other businesses selling non-essential luxury items will probably have significant sales decreases, and a few more will likely close. That is the nature of the beast as they say.

If you go the MSNBC link, and then click on the NewsVine link to see people discussing the story, it might be interesting. There are the usual two sides. One are the Starbucks devotees who will defend their company tooth and nail even when they are wrong. And there are the Starbucks haters who will rag on the company no matter if they are right or wrong. If you take a look, you will see a fine example of the lack of online civility at its best. Maybe you should just skip the whole thing.

And maybe more people need to learn how to brew their own coffee. It's not that hard folks. Buy yourself a nice to go mug, brew it at home, and take it with you. If you are one of the addicts who has to have some syrup with the brew, buy a bottle of your favorite flavor. You'd still be ahead in terms of cost.

Overall, not quite a sign of economic apocalypse yet. Starbucks does acknowledge they made some errors along the way (i.e. selling stuff other than coffee in a coffee shop for instance), but again, we go back to it's either the gas or the fancy coffee. And coffee does not fill the car's tank.

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