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Talk is cheap, good coffee costs money

March 19, 2008

Source: WikipediaYeah, I know I love to kick Starbucks, but hey — they make an inviting target. It’d be almost impolite to not abuse them.

But still, the news from their annual shareholders meeting actually sounds kind of promising.

They’ve bought the much discussed and semi-mythical Clover, and will be deploying it in all stores. The whole idea behind the Clover is that it can deliver (in 30 – 60 seconds) a full-on properly brewed cup of varietal coffee. Which is pretty great in concept, although early reports were that it took a fair amount of tweaking to get each specific origin brewed correctly — and what are the odds that the baristas-who-can’t-be-trusted-to-grind-and-pull-a-real-shot will learn and take the time to use it properly? Still, it should be a dramatic improvement over what passes for brewed coffee at most Starbucks these days.

As much as I wish they’d also announced that they were buying Reg Barber and would soon be returning to the land of real espresso, they’ve apparently decided that the solution to crappy automated espresso is to turn to even more automation, and to that end they’ve teamed up with Thermoplan AG to produce the next generation of cyborg pushbutton espresso. Hopefully the only way to go from here is “up”.

Other announcements include a new signature roast, new loyalty programs tied to Starbucks Cards and increased ethical sourcing.

All in all, it could have been better, but at least it’s a sign that they know that what has to be done is to improve the coffee & espresso — not a word about rolling out new foods and snacks, new gimmicky confection drinks, or anything of the kind.

That’s good, ‘cuz “it’s the coffee, stupid”.

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