We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


Now it is fashionable to sneer at Starbucks. The coffee, once recognised as a marked improvement on what was available before, is disparaged as being bitter or tasteless or inadequate in any one of a number of different ways. That is the proof of Starbucks’ success. You are free, and indeed able, to complain about the quality of its product because of Starbucks.

In that respect, the company is a shining example of how capitalism and the market is supposed to work. A new product creates a new market and is in turn — for some, anyway — superseded by other competitors offering, in this case, smaller, independent, more innovative and interesting, coffee served in a less “corporate” environment. Innovation inspires emulation and then, in turn, the original innovator begins to look cumbersome and outdated. But your local independent artisan coffee shop selling coffee sourced form a single Indonesian estate only exists because of Starbucks and the corporate muscle it flexed to create the very market upon which smaller competitors can piggy-back. This, again, is the way the system is supposed to work. The rising tide, in this instance, really has lifted all boats.

Alex Massie.

Well, it may be “fashionable” to dislike Starbucks (usually a pose taken by those who haven’t the faintest notion of what building a business involves) but I could not give a flying expleted-deleted about a lot that passes for fashion. I use Starbucks quite a lot and it has also helped spawn the model of the coffee shop that is also a sort of office/study zone for anyone with a laptop.

The dislike of Starbucks is often nothing more than a reworking of the general hatred of enterprise and trade that is indulged by people who, hypocrically, enjoy its fruits. I recall this great episode of South Park and how it lampooned the hatred of big business chains of this type.

And who can possibly dislike a business that got a name-check in an Austin Powers movie?

Oh behave!

12 comments to Caffeinated

  • bobby b

    The Right People loved Starbucks when it started, because it was upscale and the masses stayed away (not wishing to spend $4 on a cup of coffee they could buy at the gas station for $1.)

    Once Starbucks became popular – and the dirty masses started to go there – it lost favor with The Right People, who moved on to the next fashionable coffee business.

    The coffee never changed. What changed was the feeling of exclusivity that was bestowed upon the early Starbucks adopters.

    Watch Tesla die from the same ailment.

  • Nash

    I dislike Starbucks because its products taste bad. I sneer at it because they are more popular and more expensive than ever, despite quality worsening. Entrepreneurship didn’t drag me to independent and local chain coffee and doughnut shops, either: their quality offerings did.

  • Flubber

    The complaint is valid – Starbucks coffee is shit. Costa’s is not much better.

    The real benefit from Starbucks existence has been the proliferation of boutique coffee shops. In my extensive experience, those independents do a cracking brew.

  • CaptDMO

    Oh sure. marketing a product. Just likeP.T.Barnum!
    Because $60 imported vodka in a “pretty bottle” is “better” than $8 “domestic”.
    And…perfume, and “this years fashion”, and pet rocks.
    Meh, whatever the traffic will allow.
    Just try to keep the flood of tears to a minimum when the little kid says
    “HEY! The King isn’t wearing ANY clothes!”

  • Y. Knott

    – Why, it almost got a name-check in “Spaceballs”!

  • TDK

    Not all businesses start off being “cool”, but those that do inevitably hit a backlash:
    – Starbucks
    – Body Shop
    – Amazon
    – Google

  • Johnathan Pearce

    TDK, I suspect that some of the firms that hit a backlash do so largely because of the “tall poppy syndrome”. I remember the early anti-globalisation tear-ups in places such as the US and UK and Starbucks was targeted for the crime of being successful and American. To the nihilists, those qualities cannot be forgiven. Whatever virtue-signalling and actions designed to embrace the moronic Left since, it is a waste of time. There is no point trying to be “cool” as a way to deflect hostility. As for some of the others, like Amazon, I never thought of it trying to be “cool” in the first place – it was a place one bought books. Google was clever and had this slogan about “don’t be evil” but I never really thought of it as anything other than a smart search engine. The bust-up over a guy who wrote a memo reflecting on male/female differences merely showed to me a firm whose HR department is in the grip of fashionable nonsense, which bodes ill for its long-term share price.

    I am not as convinced as Paul Marks is that CEOs of these big firms are all evil Leftist children of Herbert Marcuse, but what I see in most cases are people scared to be proud of their capitalist achievements. The Left can smell the fear, even as it crushes the life out of entities such as ESPAN, or persuades firms to insult their clients, as in the case of Gillette with its “toxic masculinity” bullshit that appears designed for Beta males who live with their parents into their late 20s.

  • rosenquist

    as in the case of Gillette with its “toxic masculinity” bullshit that appears designed for Beta males who live with their parents into their late 20s.

    On the contrary, it was basement dwelling beta males or ‘incels’ who were triggered the most by that particular advertisment.
    (having seen it once myself I found it a bit cringeworthy but otherwise entirely forgettable).

  • Paul Marks

    The former head of Starbucks followed a leftist political line – yet in riots the leftists (the very people he supported and often FUNDED) made a point of smashing up the local Starbucks.

    Now they are attacking the man PERSONALLY – because he is got in his “liberal” head that he wants to be President of the United States, and they (the leftist establishment elite) want someone MORE leftist than him.

    Is it too much to hope that this man will have a moment of clarity?

    “Your friends” (the people you have FUNDED all these years) want to destroy you Sir, they hate you and they want to DESTROY you. Perhaps it is was not a good idea for you to support them all these years – and perhaps you should STOP supporting them.

    Ditto all other “Woke” billionaires.

    I am nasty “gutter rightist” – but I am NOT going to kill you and family, your “friends” want to rob and kill you and your family. Are they really your friends? Is it a sign of friendliness to want to rob and kill you and your family?

  • Stephen W. Houghton II

    Paul, write to the dude, he is running for office. Maybe he will read it.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Up to a point but that ignores the fact that Gillette is going after younger male consumers. As a middle-aged chap I’m immune to this, but it’s all of a piece with a general propaganda campaign. One way that such campaigns work is that reasonable folk like you shrug their shoulders . But the fanatics don’t stop. The ratchet effect goes on.

    At some point maybe there will be a reaction and I see some of this on the internet. So who knows?

  • Runcie Balspune

    The real benefit from Starbucks existence has been the proliferation of boutique coffee shops.

    And also the proliferation of coffee purveyors online.

    Having eschewed the expense of StarCostaNeroBucks many years ago I fell back on my trusty cafetiere and Aeropress and now purchase my own particular taste in coffee beans from a veritable cornucopia of varieties.

    Not forgetting the vast array of pod/capsule style coffee makers now available, in a competitive market, that has even managed to create a “standard”.

    The capsule coffee and even the quality instant coffee brands are nice, but freshly ground is much better, and this is from someone who absolutely hates the ritualisation of mundane tasks.