Wednesday, February 18, 2009

You Know Things Are Bad When...

Starbucks starts selling instant coffee.

Yes, you read that right.

I'm a coffee snob. When Mike and I first got married and we would visit England, if someone offered me a coffee, it was nearly always instant. I learned to decline and take tea instead. Since that time, now it's much easier to get a nice cup of coffee when we are out and about (you can find Starbucks and other coffee shops all over the place). But still, in people's homes, I take tea.

I admire Starbucks' resourcefulness and creativity in scaling down its offerings. I applauded when the company started offering oatmeal last year (as a business traveler, I often pick up a light breakfast at Starbucks in the airport). As much as I like the scones, I was delighted to have a healthier option.

Starbucks' instant coffee will still be a luxury item...it will cost $0.83 a cup! If you ask me, I'd rather have half the coffee at Starbucks' usual price of $1.50 per cup of brewed coffee instead of drinking instant.

The New York Times article says that not even one in ten cups of coffee drunk in North America is brewed by Starbucks (not surprising, if you think about all the coffee consumed in workplaces, homes, etc.). Furthermore, Americans spend $70 million a year on instant coffee. ISN'T THAT ASTONISHING??? But only 7 percent of them drink instant on a regular basis.

Not to be a skeptic, but it seems a mite unrealistic to think that those 7 percent, who probably drink instant coffee for the low cost and convenience, and the fact that they are not coffee connoisseurs (that is, they don't care about the taste), will suddenly jump from their Maxwell House to Starbucks, at a much higher cost.

Except in the United Kingdom, where 81 percent of the coffee sold is instant. There Starbucks has a perfect market for its new instant coffee.

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