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“Real Coffee” Is Not Sustainable – Starbucks Goes The Way of Nescafe

Starbucks has decided to stray from its ideals of “real coffee” by adding an instant coffee to its repertoire.

When Howard Schulz, the  Chief Executive of Starbucks, wrote his book “Pour Your Heart Into It” (about the history of Starbucks), he did not conceal his passion for good coffee or for his company. He pooh-poohed the notion of instant coffee and  modeled his company after the Italian barista lifestyle. Schulz’s goal was to introduce Americans to really fine coffee and wean them away from a culture of instant coffee, which by the time he wrote his book had become synonymous with the kind of coffee that is served at gas stations.

After years however, Starbucks has finally copped out. The company has proved that its initial values are not sustainable by creating an instant coffee known as “Starbucks Via” that it will begin serving next month. Apparently the market for instant coffee is so huge (especially abroad) that Starbucks can no longer ignore it. Ironically, the same Howard Schulz says that “This is a transformational event in the history of the company.” (WSJ)

Has the company come full circle? Or have they just become even more boring? In his book Schultz admits that he was afraid that “Starbucks may become another soul-less big chain.” Now with the introduction of instant coffee, the company has become even more soul-less perhaps by abandoning the very culture of “real coffee” that differentiated it the first place.

Written by Reenita Malhotra

Reenita Malhotra Hora is an Ayurveda clinician, entrepreneur, writer and mom. Her experience has ranged from running Ayoma, an Ayurveda business to running a natural health practice at San Francisco's California Pacific Medical Center.

Reenita is a published author of two books books about health and wellness: ‘Ayurveda - the Natural Medicine of India’ and
‘Inner Beauty’. She is also the Editor for Green Options Media's business blogs and a freelance writer for a variety of print and web publications.

In quieter moments, she likes to spend her time hiking, swimming the warm seas, cooking with the family or writing fantasy fiction adventure stories for kids from from 2 to 92.

Check out her wisdom at www.reenita.com

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  1. All brands, particularly those who are on the down cycle, are temped to find ways to hit larger target groups and expand their top line.

    the problem for Starbucks, is that a lot of their image was tied to the “quality” of the product. Initially, there was a real allure to Starbucks as they recreated the coffee culture, but they burned themselves in a few ways once they tasted success (1) They over expanded – which reduced the perceived value and (2) They move away from enjoying the cafe experience to drive thru model

    … and while diminishing the brand, they continued to raise/ hold pricing above the perceived value of the experience.

    … and this move will only sure they continue along this trajectory by moving completely away from the need for cafes.

    Interesting that their initial pitch was that people who enjoyed coffee, enjoyed the experience of cafe based coffees.

    Maybe next year it will be available in a green brick? Or perhaps they should just buy Folgers and get it over with.

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