Starbucks – Slowly Going The Way of The Golden Arches

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past 15 years, you are undoubtedly familiar with Starbucks Coffee. Started in Seattle in 1971, this chain quickly brought huge popularity to espresso drinks. Starbucks is the primary reason for the rise of espresso in the United States.starbucks_escher-757783.jpg

Almost everyone I know visits Starbucks on a semi-regular basis. If not for the coffee and tea, then for the community. Starbucks has established a certain feel in their shops that people seem to love. There are currently over 15,000 Starbucks Coffee locations in 42 different countries. You can’t go far without running into a one. Starbucks is quickly becoming the new McDonald’s.

There are several qualities that these two mega-businesses share. Though it has seen an apparent decline with the current generation, McDonald’s is the largest fast food chain in the world. McDonald’s is everywhere. Similarly, Starbucks seems to be everywhere. There are 3 within a few miles in the city I live in, and they are currently building another. There are all sorts of cases in big cities where there is a starbucks on every block, or even more. Starbucks is huge. Up until this past Christmas season, Starbucks has never done advertising of any sort. It hasn’t been necessary. Everyone knows about Starbucks.

Strangely, McDonald’s and Starbucks have both recently taken steps towards each other. McDonald’s now offers a variety of espresso drinks. Starbucks has offered breakfast sandwiches, very similar to the popular Egg McMuffin. For a time it seemed as though the companies were becoming strikingly similar, although due to complaints, Starbucks is now phasing out their breakfast sandwiches. ( I am personally disappointed. I was hoping for a merger. McStarnuck’s anyone?)

Unfortunately, another trait that theses two share is quality, or the lack thereof. While Starbucks’ quality of drinks and food is not nearly as low as that of McDonald’s, any coffee snob will tell you, it’s not the best. The biggest complaint I hear is that the beans are “burnt”. While this may be a matter of personal preference, I don’t think anyone can deny that Starbucks coffee is not the greatest coffee around. So why drink it? Because it’s still pretty good, it’s everywhere, and we’re addicited.

It seems as though Starbucks sees this trend as well. For the first time in it’s history, Starbucks has had to close down several locations. This past Christmas season saw their first ever advertisments. The Breakfast sandwiches are now on their way out, due to complaints. Starbucks made a shocking move when, just tonight, February 26th, from 5:30-8:30, they closed down every one of their 7,000 US locations. Due to increasing complaints regarding the poor quality of drinks, the coffee giant required all of their workers to come in for a training session.

It seems as though Starbucks sees the pattern they are in, and they want out. They are doing everything possible to keep themselves from becoming the new McDonald’s.

12 Responses to Starbucks – Slowly Going The Way of The Golden Arches

  1. Just a few things I heard the other day:
    The top three sellers of coffee in the nation–no. 1 is McDonald’s, no. 2 is Dunken Donut and no. 3 is Starbuck’s.
    Also I heard Dunken Donut’s coffee was on discount while Starbuck’s was closed.

  2. B. Shaw says:

    Wow. This is a huge surprise to me. Though it would make sense that McDonald’s is up there. Now, is this strictly black coffee, yes? That’s crazy. That’s funny about dunkin donuts though. That’s a clever move.

  3. k_shaw says:

    In Covington, Wa, near where I live, there is three(3) Starbucks’ in once city block. One has been there for years, a second was built about 2 years ago and features a drive through. A THIRD was built into the Safeway across the street from these two.

    In Maple Valley, Wa, where I work, there is a Starbucks and they just built one into the QFC which is next door. If their were no walls, you could spit from one to the other.

    It’s like the Starbucks Store and In-store divisions don’t talk.

    I would go to Starbucks because it IS convenient, and I used to go there more frequently because of the delicious breakfast sandwiches. Now, I have no reason to go there. Coffee is okay and overpriced, no more breakfast sandwiches, regular sandwiches are insanely overpriced, wi-fi has never been free (even though people would FLOCK there if it was. Starbucks are everywhere, now free wi-fi is too… just a though Schultz)

    But alas, I will still go there because it IS there. And everywhere. And people like to meet there.

    What will we do? I don’t know, maybe we should brainstorm some ideas. We could meet at Starbu…

  4. k_shaw says:

    correction: “…just a THOUGHT Schultz)”

    Also, McStarnuck’s has gotta be the funniest word you’ve ever made up.

  5. k_shaw says:


    Barista, “Oh uh, which flavoring would you like in your double tall non-fat half-caf latte?”

    Kendon, “Uh… what have you got?”

    Barista, “We have Vanilla or Toffee-nut.”

    Kendon, “That’s it?”

    Barista, “Oh certainly not, we also have the Vanilla available in Sugar-Free.”

    Kendon, “oh… well, I guess I’ll have Toffee-nut then.”

    Barista, “I’m sorry, Toffee-Nut is seasonal.”

  6. k_shaw says:


    Seattle, February 25, 2008
    Howard Schultz Transformation Agenda Communication #8

    To: All Partners

    From: Howard Schultz

    Re: As we embark on Espresso Excellence Training

    Aged Sumatra … that’s what I’m drinking as I write you this note. Hands down, it’s my favorite coffee. Aged for three to five years in a warehouse in Singapore, then shipped as green coffee to our plant in Kent, Washington, and roasted to perfection. The result is a stunning cup of coffee. The velvety mouthful, the full-body of one of our classic Indonesian coffees, and the subtle but ever-present earthiness and spiciness brought to life by our proprietary aging process. It’s rare, it’s exotic, and it’s ours. What a gift … and we get to share it with one another and with our customers.

    Tomorrow evening, we will come together in an unprecedented event in our company’s storied history. We will close all of our U.S. company-operated stores to teach, educate and share our love of coffee, and the art of espresso. And in doing so, we will begin to elevate the Starbucks Experience for our customers. We are passionate about our coffee. And we will revisit our standards of quality that are the foundation for the trust that our customers have in our coffee and in all of us.

    But, as I think about it, there is another perhaps equally important reason why we have scheduled this training. It’s to celebrate who we are.

    We are Starbucks. We should be incredibly proud of what we have built. We are the worldwide leader of specialty coffee. And, believe me when I tell you, we are just getting started. We will overcome the difficult and humbling challenges we face, and will be stronger for it. You have my word on that.

    We are Bean Stock, we are Healthcare, and we are also the Cup Fund.

    We are at our best when we are entrepreneurial and courageous, push for innovation and reject the status quo. We are leaders not followers–we leave that for others.

    We are the third place in the lives of millions of our customers. We are the coffee that brings people together every day around the world to foster conversation and community.

    As Starbucks partners, we are bound together by the passion we have for our coffee and the customer experience. More than 170,000 of us stand for quality and an uncompromising ethical standard. We uphold our guiding principles by demonstrating respect and dignity for one another, and for our customers.

    Thank you in advance for embracing tomorrow night in the spirit in which it is intended. Have fun, but also make it matter. Learn, teach, and share with your fellow partners.

    Celebrate our coffee, one another, and the respect we have for our customers.



  7. B. Shaw says:

    That note is absolutely ridiculous. For some reason, coffee being “aged in a warehouse in singapore” doesn’t sound too appetizing. I feel like I should go get checked for syphilis after drinking that type of coffee. I like how the guy recognized that their quality is declining, but then turned it around and made this mandatory training session a “celebration”. Ridiculous. And then bringing in the ethical standard? Come on! You sell coffee for pete’s sake!
    And a guy named Howard should never sign off with, “Onward”. That’s just confusing and weird to say.

  8. B. Shaw says:

    Oh, but along the lines of the Wifi-

    Starbucks has officially dumped Tmobile as their wifi provider. I never really understood what they were going for there anyway. I don’t know a single person who had it. It doesn’t make sense to pay monthly for internet that you can only get at Starbucks. They have now joined with AT&T and will give 2 hours of free internet to those who buy with a “Starbucks Purchase Card”. Whatever that means (I still haven’t figured it out). But besides that and a monthly subscription, 2 hours can be purchased for $3.99. The monthly subscription still baffles me. Why don’t they just start renting out apartments too? That way you could wake up, get coffee, get internet, and do work all from the comfort of your Apartbucks. (Okay that word is a bit of a stretch, sorry, umm Starpartment? No, uh, I’ll get back to you on that one.)

  9. k_shaw says:

    Howard, is Howard Shultz, the founder and recently-returned-to-power CEO of Starbucks.

  10. Alex W. says:

    Love the Starbucks-gone-Escher image up there. Kudos on a point well made!

  11. Caleb Ingersoll says:


  12. Caleb Ingersoll says:

    You can just say you hate me to my face.

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