Sunday, August 10, 2008

Good taste in coffee hobbles American chain

Please join me in a minutes silence whilst we remember Starbucks in Australia.

In the last couple of weeks, anyone traveling down Collins Street, Bourke Street, and nearly every other street in Melbourne, will be met with the barren empty shell that was once the home of the sickly sweet cinnamon chai latte or frappaccino and numerous other coffee monstrosities.

Starbucks, the Dr. McFrankenstein of Coffee, whilst not completely gone, is in serious decline in Australia. And not before time, too.

I do feel for the 685 employees who lost their jobs in early August after the company closed 61 of its 84 Australian stores, but let’s face it; coffee making is an art that a great many Australians appreciate. Trying to pass the over sweetened, fast food, McCoffee concoctions as coffee, and charging so much for it, was never going to work. There are far too many exceptional “hole-in-the-wall” coffee places, especially in Melbourne, where coffee appreciators can be served a fine flat white or long black. You just don’t need the Starbucks sprinkly and syrupy “bells-and-whistles” when the coffee is of a good standard to begin with.

It seems that Starbucks is experiencing trouble at home too. In selected US stores (soon to go national) they are offering dramatic discounts for those who buy a “Grande” cold drink before 2pm as their second purchase in the day. Sales are down, so they are trying to encourage consumers back into the stores. Supplying more of their bad product at cheaper prices does not make the product better.

Stay tuned for the decline of other American retail colonialists.

Who will be next? Krispy Kreme, McDonalds, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut, unfortunately the list goes on.

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