My Role in the Soul of Starbucks

Today I read that Starbucks has started a new line of coffee shops. They are called 15th Ave Coffee & Tea. This is what their website says about themselves:

“Our coffee beans are roasted daily and delivered to your cup through the brewing method of your choice. Choose between pour over, French Press, La Marzocco or Clover. In addition to a full line-up of coffees offered year round, we also seek out small batch coffees sourced from individually owned farms that are available when in season. Check out our blog to see what’s in season today.

Tea is selected through the same deliberate process as our coffee beans. Each tea has been taste tested by our resident tea master and selected based on its uniqueness and originality. We brew whole leaf by the pot or cup.

Fresh food and pastries are baked daily and racked European style. All of our decadent delicacies are produced by Essential Baking Company, a local favorite.

Stop by in the evening and check out some of our local music talent ranging from live bands to our favorite DJs spinning on the tables. Choose from our selection of beer and wine to end the day.

Whole leaf teas, delicate pastries, live music, beer and wine. This coffee shop meets you at street level.”

Sounds great.

So…On August 2009 I wrote a paper for my Graduate Degree. I called it “The Soul of Starbucks.”  I based it upon a 800 word memo that Howard Schultz distributed to his employees.  In the memo Schultz said:  “Over the past 10 years, in order to achieve the growth, development, and scale necessary to go from less than 1,000 stores to 13,000 stores and beyond, we have had to make a series of decisions that, in retrospect, have led to the watering down of the Starbucks experience, and, what some might call the commoditization of our brand.”

I gave the research paper I wrote to a few of my local Starbucks baristas, including a regional manager. She said she would pass it up the chain. Not sure if that happened, but, when I read about the 15th Ave Coffee & Tea concept I went back and read my paper. The connection is pretty uncanny.

Here is the paper: The Soul of Starbucks

Here is the final paragraph conclusion I proposed:

“I would recommend that the Starbucks Corporation diversify. Rather than trying to move the existing stores back to basics, I believe they should hive an offshoot of Starbucks. One that is reflective of the classic coffeehouse, complete with hand-operated espresso machines and on-site brewing and grinding of beans. Each store should reflect the community in its art and décor.Each venue should not feel like a store because the main product is no longer music, books, movies, mugs, and machines but rather the coffee and the atmosphere. Isn’t this how the whole thing got started anyway: one store in Pikes Place brewing really good coffee. I recommend that what IS should stay AS IS and that energy be placed into creating ‘another place’. Perhaps Schultz will spark the kind of discussion needed to get the Starbucks Corporation to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’.”

I hope 15th Ave Coffee & Tea makes it to Salem, Oregon. I’d hang out there with a fresh brewed cup.

2 comments

  1. Amber Burns says:

    Wow! What a great concept. And I for one think that paper of yours most definitely made it into the right hands. 🙂

  2. Bernie says:

    Starbucks and 15th Ave Coffee and Tea owe you – minus the beer and wine. Fehlenbuck or Fehlen Ave Coffee and Tea coming soon.