By Katie Engelhart - Friday, January 25, 2013 - 0 Comments
The coffee juggernaut plans to open a café in Montmartre, to the dismay of locals
Earlier this month, Starbucks announced plans to open a café on the old stomping grounds of Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso in the storied Parisian neighbourhood of Montmartre. In response, the association Paris Fierté (Paris Pride) is circulating a petition and planning to protest its arrival. “Opinion,” the association says, “oscillates between anger and fatalism.”
Paris Fierté spokesperson Pierre Brabant warns that Starbucks’ attempt to breach Montmartre could be “the drop of coffee that makes the vase overflow.” The global giant opened its first French branch in 2004. But there are just 81 Starbucks in France, compared with more than 1,000 in Canada, and France’s Starbucks have yet to turn a profit.
In response, Starbucks has changed tactics—offering croque monsieur and pain perdu alongside its blueberry-studded jumbo muffins.
Laurent Pauzié, a young engineer in Paris, believes the Starbucks outlets “are only here to comfort tourists when they’re lost.” Kate Menzies, a Canadian living in Paris, is more accommodating. Starbucks, she says, “is one of the few places with public toilets and free WiFi in the city.”
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 10:04 AM - 0 Comments
The iconic coffee company plans on opening 1,500 new outposts by 2015
It wasn’t long ago that Starbucks’ big plans to expand throughout China ran into an embarrassing hitch. The American coffee giant, which first entered the market in 1999, stepped into a scandal five years ago after a local TV personality complained that a store erected on the grounds of Beijing’s Forbidden City was eroding Chinese culture. A massive protest followed and the company retreated. Now Starbucks faces the opposite problem. With more than 570 coffee shops across the country, and plans to open another 1,500 by 2015, CEO Howard Schultz says the challenge is finding ways to prevent enthusiastic patrons from lingering for hours on end—sometimes without even buying drinks. “For a decade, the core business was expats and tourists,” Schultz recently told Reuters. “Without question, the core business today is Chinese nationals.” And they seemingly can’t get enough.
By Tamsin McMahon - Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 2:10 AM - 0 Comments
The coffee giant has teamed up with Tata Group to introduce lattes to Indian taste buds
Starbucks is the latest global chain hoping to cash in on India’s booming coffee house culture
India has long been associated with tea, from the vast tea fields of Darjeeling to the chai wallahs hawking their brew in pots at train stations and street corners for a few rupees a cup. But these days the country is becoming better known as the epicentre of the global coffee wars. Starbucks announced plans earlier this year to bring its skinny caramel macchiatos and double chocolate chip frappuccinos to India. The Seattle-based purveyor of gourmet Italian coffee for the masses said it expects to open 50 cafés in the country by year’s end, starting with Mumbai and New Delhi.
In an unusual move for the coffee giant, Starbucks announced a joint partnership with Tata Group, the Indian conglomerate that owns major tea brands Tetley and Typhoo. The stores will be called Starbucks Coffee: A Tata Alliance, and will include a line of teas exclusively for the Indian market branded as Tata Tazo. Tata has said the partnership also includes plans for Starbucks to source Indian-grown coffee for its global beverage empire. That’s expected to be a boost to the country’s farmers, who are the world’s largest tea exporters after China but represent less than five per cent of global coffee growers.
By Jessica Allen - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 6:46 PM - 0 Comments
You know how Tim Hortons decided to make “lattes” in an effort to woo some of the sophisticated sorts from Starbucks? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that not long after Starbucks began advertising how their drinks are “handcrafted beverages” rather than, say, from a machine that dispenses a drink with a push of a button. Now Starbucks is releasing a “Blonde” roast that promises to be “lighter, mellower and more subtle” than their bold and medium blends. You know what that sounds like? It sounds a lot like an attempt to compete with Tim’s black water roast, if you ask me. Continue…
By Cathy Gulli - Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 11:50 AM - 3 Comments
Why the fight over who makes the better single-serve coffee machine is ramping up
In the world of single-serve coffee makers, debate over which brewer is better, the Keurig or Tassimo, is as heated as an extra-extra-hot skinny latte. Each machine takes its own type of coffee-grind packet—a “K-cup” or a “T-disc,” respectively—and each machine is aligned with different coffee bean companies. So when Starbucks announced a few weeks ago that it will sell one-cup pods of its grinds exclusively fit for Keurig machines, caffeine addicts were further inflamed: Tassimo used to have an exclusive deal with Starbucks. All that changed when, in March,
Starbucks split from Kraft Foods, which launched the Tassimo in Canada in 2006 and saw it gain popularity in large part because of its partnership with the Seattle-based coffee house. The breakup proved felicitous for Keurig: in late August, Starbucks unveiled plans to sell K-Cups throughout the United States, starting in November, and in Canada next March. According to Jeff Hansberry, president of global consumer products for Starbucks, sales are forecast to top US$1 billion.
But this news is a loss for Tassimo users, many of whom bought the coffee machine out of loyalty to Starbucks, not Kraft. A Facebook page called “Tassimo Division” has emerged for the disgruntled. Other consumer websites reveal that when rumours spread of an impending split, many people started buying Starbucks T-discs in bulk. “I stockpiled about an eight-month supply,” admits one commenter on singleservecoffeeforums.com. “I’m really upset that they left me hanging here with nothing,” laments another named “tassimodepressed.”
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 10:45 AM - 7 Comments
How the high-end brand aims to capture the everyman market
In the 1991 comedy L.A. Story, Steve Martin’s character, Harris, memorably poked fun at the coffee house culture Starbucks was introducing to Americans: “I’ll have a half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon.” At the time, Starbucks had just 116 stores in the United States. Two decades later, it has ballooned to nearly 17,000 stores in 50 countries. But there still remains a sizable chunk of the coffee-drinking population that’s wary of buying their coffee from the Seattle-based giant, either because it’s too expensive, too fussy or too inconvenient (believe it or not, some coffee drinkers still find it easier to brew a pot at home).
So, with growth opportunities for its flagship brand in North America waning, Starbucks decided last year to overhaul the Seattle’s Best Coffee brand it acquired in the U.S. eight years ago (three years ago in Canada) for less than US$100 million, and signed deals to sell brewed coffee in Subway restaurants, Burger Kings, AMC movie theatres and just about anywhere else it’s often difficult to find a decent cup. Starbucks’ CEO has set a lofty annual revenue goal of $1 billion for the division.
In Canada, Starbucks is now going a step further with a pilot project that has put Seattle’s Best branded “coffee bars” inside four Wal-Mart Supercentres, with another four to be opened over the next year. The idea is to provide a slightly cheaper Starbucks-type beverage, such as lattes and mochas, to people who don’t associate coffee with overstuffed furniture and faux jazz. “It’s a new concept for us. They’re coffee bars with a walk-up window on one side and a bar to linger at on the other,” says Jenny McCabe, a Starbucks spokesperson. “We think we can simplify premium coffee and make it really accessible. Wal-Mart is not a place that most people would have thought to look for premium coffee.”
By Tom Henheffer - Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 8:20 AM - 1 Comment
Starbucks’s decision to drop its name from its two-decade-old logo led to a swarm of negative reaction online, in the news and in under-caffeinated lineups everywhere.
Starbucks’s decision to drop its name from its two-decade-old logo led to a swarm of negative reaction online, in the news and in under-caffeinated lineups everywhere. It was pretty predictable—numerous studies have shown that customers loathe label-fiddling, as the likes of Wal-Mart, Pepsi and the Gap (which was forced to revert back to its old logo due to negative reaction over its redesign) have all discovered in recent years.
But marketing experts say there is an upside. If successful, the move could lead Starbucks to the same level of über-brand recognition as the wordless Apple and Nike logos. This would come at the perfect time, as Starbucks is currently planning to increase its expansion into international, non-English speaking markets, with its number of stores set to more than triple (from about 400 to 1,500) in China alone. Now it just has to hope that “the logo formerly known as Starbucks” actually catches on.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 15, 2010 at 12:25 PM - 59 Comments
Eric Grenier tabulates the Starbucks vote.
With an average of 5.4 locations per riding, the New Democrats have the highest Starbucks density of the four major parties. The Conservatives have the next highest density, with an average of 3.9 locations in each of their ridings. That’s only fractionally more than the Liberals, with an average density of 3.8 Starbucks coffee shops per riding…
Among the four party leaders, and with five locations in his riding of Calgary Southwest, it is Stephen Harper who can boast of having the most ready access to a double caramel macchiato.
By Erica Alini - Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 1:20 PM - 0 Comments
Starbucks is venturing into Italian territory and onto Italian palates
Roughly three decades after Italy’s espresso bars inspired Starbucks founder and CEO Howard Schultz to reinvent American coffee, Frappuccino look-alikes—renamed Frappuccios—are venturing into Italian territory and onto Italian palates.
The country hails espresso as something of a national symbol and has so far eschewed penetration by global coffee titans like Starbucks Corp. Yet Arnold Coffee, a Milan-based start-up, opened its doors a year and a half ago and has been offering caramel mochas, chai lattes and filtered coffee, along with donuts and free Wi-Fi. It has since added two more stores and plans to open a third café in Milan by late October. “We want to be an American-style coffee bar,” said co-owner and founder Andrea Comelli.
But in a country with nearly 136,000 espresso bars (over eight times the roughly 16,700 Starbucks stores in the world), the task isn’t easy. Still, Arnold’s coffee shops are crowded. Some customers love holding onto a big, steaming hot, to-go cup rather than the typical small ceramic espresso cup. Others embrace with gusto the complicated coffee brews. For others still, the lure lies in the comfy armchairs. (In most Italian coffee bars customers are expected to clear the spot after gulping down a few millilitres of espresso.)
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
Restaurant chains are rolling out airline-style rewards and points programs to fill seats
Restaurants are taking a cue from the airline industry and implementing loyalty programs they hope will lure frequent diners by offering free trips, a peek at new menu items, and entry into contests.
Starbucks customers in Calgary and across the U.S., for instance, can now get a “My Starbucks Rewards” card that gives habitual caffeinators a star with every purchase. More stars mean more benefits: refills on brewed coffee and tea, or the chance to buy rare coffee beans and trips to far-flung coffee-growing regions. Denny’s Rewards Club members get discounts on meals and a “tasty offer” on the anniversary of signing up. At Kelsey’s, eKlub participants are welcomed with a free starter, and then receive news alerts on deals, coupons and contests. The most appetizing offer, though, may come from the Outback Steakhouse, which honours its American rewards club members with a “free Aussie-Tizer” on joining and enters them into a contest for a trip to Australia and tickets to see country singer Tim McGraw.
By Tom Henheffer - Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 1:00 PM - 3 Comments
Tofino, B.C.’s town council wants to keep fast-food franchises out
Tofino, B.C., is a tiny surfer town full of independent coffee shops, greasy spoons and eco-clothing boutiques, and its residents want to keep it that way. So, last week, the town council unanimously passed a motion asking city staff to come up with a way to keep large franchises— like Starbucks, Wal-Mart and McDonald’s—out. “We want to be reflective of the environment in which we live, which is wild, untamed and thus different,” says Maureen Fraser, owner of the Common Loaf, a local bakery and hippie hangout. “There’s no sense of escape if you find the golden arches.”
Bob Long, the town’s chief administrative officer, is working on a proposal for council. He says he’ll likely recommend zoning bylaws restricting signage and regulations requiring restaurants to have table service. Other small towns have fought off chain stores with similar regulations. After a large video chain drove local rental places out of business, Port Townsend, Wash., instituted a “formula store ordinance” that restricts the locations of franchises and requires stores to tailor their signs to the town’s Victorian aesthetic. It hasn’t had another franchise open in the city since. Qualicum Beach, B.C., about 160 km east of Tofino, has also managed to keep fast-food chains out with a bylaw that restricts the sale of prepackaged produce.
But Garth Whyte, president and CEO of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, says these towns are moving in the wrong direction. “It’s like shooting yourself in the foot,” he says. “A lot of people want the food and fun associated with [franchises].” Whyte thinks good planning is all that’s needed to keep independent stores in business. But those in Tofino don’t buy that. “You come here and get a unique cup of coffee,” says Long. “The more diversity we have, the better it will be.”
By Chris Sorensen - Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 10:40 AM - 2 Comments
Profits are up at Starbucks as sales of pricey coffees rebound
When looking for clues about a recovery, economists generally pore over data on factory orders, housing starts, and even something called the Baltic Dry Index, which measures shipping volumes of coal and iron ore, among other things. But maybe they should also be looking in the bottom of their coffee cups.
Java giant Starbucks recently surprised analysts with encouraging quarterly financial results, including better-than-expected profits and sales growth at many of its stores. It’s an about-face from most of last year, when recession-weary consumers took a pass on the company’s pricy caramel macchiatos, opting instead for cheaper fare from the likes of Tim Hortons and Dunkin’ Donuts. “I think there certainly has been a turn in the economy and the restaurant industry is starting to see it,” says Doug Fisher, president of FHG International Inc., a food service and franchise consulting firm based in Toronto. He called Starbucks a “cheap luxury” for many people. “Maybe I’m not ready to go out for a Ruth’s Chris steak, but a more expensive coffee I can fit into the budget.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 7:58 AM - 8 Comments
‘In one segment, American Idol was explained as the ultimate end goal of the American Revolution’
Herein, the first in a semi-regular series chronicling the ninth season of American Idol.
With last year’s winner now almost entirely forgotten, it is time again for a new season of American Idol. Such is the circle of life, the natural order of things, the way it has always been. Or at least the way it has been since Starbucks began systematically over-caffinating the developed world.
If everything about life has always been fleeting, it is somehow now more so. Everything about Idol has always seemed tenuous—desperate hopefuls chasing glory, contestants forgotten shortly after defeat and victory, each season daring to drain America’s well of undiscovered talent. And so it is that this season begins feeling like an end.
As announced days before last night’s season opener, Simon Cowell, the show’s British judge and central force, will be moving on after this ninth campaign, apparently to pursue another televised talent show. It is possible to overstate the implications of this, but only barely. It is Cowell, tormentor of the weak and cruel voice of reality, who is counted on to identify talent, guide the viewer and bestow his blessing on the truly worthy. The other judges are superfluous voices of generalities, the contestants interchangeable, Ryan Seacrest unremarkably acceptable. Cowell is constant, an ever-present reminder of the show’s claim to a higher purpose. He wears only t-shirts and seeks only to reward the deserving. He is possibly the last pure and uncompromised thing on television. And a post-Cowell Idol would seem destined to be something akin to a post-Jordan NBA or a post-Clinton America: strange, uninspired and grasping at golden calves (in fairness, Grant Hill and Donald Rumsfeld seemed like really good ideas at the time).
The producers—perhaps astutely, perhaps accidentally—had already begun to transition to something new. A fourth judge—the relatively substantive, if easily antagonized, songwriter Kara DioGuardi—was added last season. After an acrimonious split, Paula Abdul, Cowell’s effusive foil, will ultimately be replaced by the vaguely subversive Ellen DeGeneres. (Randy Jackson, a former music producer who may or may not have been created by Jim Henson, remains and could well endure in a post-Cowell Idol. If only because it is impossible now to imagine him existing outside this show.) Assuming Cowell is replaced by someone with some wit—and a British accent—it is possible to see Idol surviving and succeeding, in some sense, for several years more. But it won’t be the same. It will be somehow more complicated. Idol, as we’ve known it, will cease at this season’s end, destined to struggle for some time unless and until a transformative figure (its LeBron James or Captain Sully) arrives to save it for a new generation.
We have then but five months to revel in simpler times. Let us cherish them.
The first episode of this ninth season, chronicling the start of open auditions, was in keeping with what we have come to expect from each season’s opener: a parade of weirdos, performance artists, deluded narcissists, sobbing also-rans, irrepressible talent, conspicuous product placement and heartwarming tales from Middle America. For all the mocking freakishness of the early going, it is on inspiration that Idol ultimately depends. In these first two hours, covering tryouts in Boston, we were introduced to the girl whose family adopts children with Down Syndrome, the plus-sized Italian bartender, the floppy-haired hippie with two broken wrists, the girl whose grandmother has Alzheimer’s, the handsome cancer survivor and the Long Island girl whose parents were strict churchgoers. This last singer, apparently chasing her parents’ approval, somehow seemed the most affecting.
We were also introduced to one girl, a student from Boston, who was said to possibly possess “it.” And Victoria Beckham was there, for some reason. And, in one segment, American Idol was explained as the ultimate end goal of the American Revolution.
In its own way, this all made perfect sense.
By Scott Feschuk - Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 9:10 AM - 7 Comments
You could try becoming indispensable by working really hard. But, man, that’s a pain.
Between you and me, I’m beginning to think this “recession” may be for real and not some imaginary thing my broker made up to justify his poor performance and suicide. All of a sudden I’m regretting that my eulogy was so heavy on accusation and throwing things.
In recent months, millions of people across the United States, thousands across Canada and even the 20 stout men paid to pull Demi Moore’s face tight each morning have lost their jobs due to the severe economic downturn. Could you be next? Lord, I hope so. Anything to save my own bacon.
But assuming you don’t work at Maclean’s, I’m here to help.