In need of caffeine–Starbucks and Schultz

Starbuck’s Founder Howard Schultz is jumping back in with both feet at Starbucks. It’s about time.

Some background… I’m a straight-up “Coffee of the Day” man–black, no sugar, no room.

Basic, elegant, unfettered, essential. Hard-core. I believe if Starbucks can’t take care of me, well, then they’ve lost it. They only earn the opportunity to serve those foo-fee Frappucino slurpees if they can deliver the goods on the <basic> <cup> <of> <joe>.

When we lived in Tokyo, the care and excellence put into making sure each and every cup of SBUX was flawless. Each cup was steaming hot and protected from spilling (they put a little plastic stopper in the mouthpiece so that as you walked around, the coffee would not spill). I literally had 4 years of Starbucks coffee in Japan that was 100% perfect.

I’ve lived in Palo Alto now for 8 months, and I now consistently get a cup of Starbucks coffee that literally tastes tired. Not hot enough (inexcusable) and weak tasting. I’ve had to send coffee back and say — do it again. So on taste and execution of the beverage, not so good in the US.

Also, presentation / last mile is faltering too. I get too many cups of coffee from SBUX that have two lids not one jammed on top. Leads to spilling and a Hoover effect (I’ve got to suck the coffee out of the cup).  The other thing with lid placement that stuns me how often it happens is putting the lid right at the seam in the cup–this leads to spilling when you drink.

My message to SBUX and Schultz is pretty simple–make a perfect cup of coffee, each and every time. That’s a starting point. With all the other stuff they’ll do, make sure they do that.

If they do that, I do think the sky’s still the limit. The international opportunity for Starbuck’s remains extraordinary. The number of town and mid-sized cities around the planet that would be open to Starbucks is huge. As globalization continues to drive apace, Starbucks is an increasingly relevant symbol for the world traveller–they want to know that wherever they are, they can grab a cup of good coffee.

I wish them the best in their revitalization. But please–for the love of Peet’s–make sure you nail making and delivering a good cup of joe.

Schultz’s Second Act Jolts Starbucks – WSJ.com

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