Coffee By Committee At Starbucks

Starbucks may be getting some good ideas from its idea website, but input from the masses is apparently not helping the taste of its coffee.

As I find myself doing more and more, I turned to Newsflashr to dig up the latest, not just about Starbucks, but anything. If you haven’t tried Newsflashr yet, don’t fret. I hear that founder Gal Arav is still accepting new visitors.

Now, back to the taste of Starbucks coffee. Newsflashr turned up an April 9 story by James Poniewozik at Time. Mr. Poniewozik drinks coffee all day, so he jumped at Time‘s request to try Starbucks’ new Pike Place Roast.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t thrilled. He found it to be “a cup of coffee that tastes less like a cup of coffee” and more “like the American statistical coffee median.” What’s more:

Starbucks says it took input from about 1,000 customers in designing Pike Place, and I could taste every one of them in there. This was a cup of coffee brewed by committee.

All in all, not a bad cup — nothing too objectionable, a perfectly fine if not completely fresh-tasting cup of coffee that I might expect to get at Dunkin, or, on a good day, Mickey D’s. Which is the problem: Starbucks is staking its future on making a cup of coffee for people who don’t like Starbucks — a McDLT in a cup.

Here we run into the classic big business dilemma.

Let’s face it, most folks don’t care all that much about the bean background of their cuppa joe in the morning. They just want some coffee. Coming up with a cheaper blend that appeals to the highest percentage of mouths is good business sense, even if it doesn’t appeal to the critics.

It’s the same with hamburgers and cars.

I don’t know a single hamburger lover who says the Big Mac is America’s best tasting, but I promise that it’s America’s (and the world’s) best selling.

I don’t know one editor of a car magazine that says the Toyota Camry is the most inspired, pleasant drive ever designed, but it’s the most frequently bought passenger car in America.

Critics look for products at the outlying edge of taste, presumably the higher end. Companies create products for the fat part of the bell curve, the “seven out of ten people prefer” kind of result.

Observant people learn quickly in life that the crowd is usually wrong. Maybe, but selling it what it wants is usually right. If the crowd asked for Pike Place Roast and Starbucks brewed it, then that’s going to be good for business.

What’s good for business will be good for the stock, and a rising share price will leave a better taste than any cup of coffee ever could.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • The Kelly Letter
    A Complete Investment Management System
    The Kelly Letter  every Sunday morning by email.
    Like no other. Many subscribers say this is the best read of their week, astonishing in its ability to distill seven days of noise into one succinct overview of the very few items that might matter. Start your Sundays right!
    A one-page Quick Start Guide
    with page number references to full information in The 3% Signal. You'll receive access to this right away so you can begin transforming your portfolio into a performance machine immediately.
    The 3Sig Calculator.
    A thing of beauty! You'll use it to generate your own personal signals every quarter including exact share amounts to buy and sell based on your account balances. It emails you the results to make later quarters easy by keeping last quarter's numbers at your fingertips. Some subscribers say this tool alone justifies their subscription price.
    The subscriber-only section of this website
    where likeminded investors are commenting on notes and discussing in forums. Jason joins these interactions every day. They're a treasure trove of investing tips and wisdom.
    The archive of Kelly Letter notes.
    It’s a research center, searchable and smartly tagged to make gathering time-stamped material on covered subjects easy.
    The subscriber podcast.
    Jason reads every letter word-for-word. This feature was requested by subscribers who prefer audio learning. They listen on their Monday morning commute, during a workout, or while reading along at their computer.



    $200/year
    Save 17%



    $20/month
    Pay as you go
    Or sign up to receive free email and learn more about the system.
    Do you have a question?
Bestselling Financial Author