Posts Tagged ‘starbucks

08
Jul
08

Starbucks closes 600 stores

The Starbucks sign is seen outside one of its stores in New York July 3, 2008. REUTERS/Chip East

It’s fascinating how one dimensional the media can portray a piece of news. Today on Yahoo! there was an article entitled “Some coffee fans get grim delight in Starbucks woes.”

The article briefly mentions that the company is planning to close 600 under performing U.S. stores. It then quickly states that this “is evoking glee and little sympathy from aficionados who say they resent the coffee shop giant and favor small independent cafes.”

The bulk of the article contains interviews with people mainly in favour of seeing the demise of the coffee chain.

I have a problem with this.

Before I get into my reasons, and get a lot of hate mail,  I want to state for the record that I am not a loyal Starbucks customer. I haven’t set foot in one in over a year.

I have no personal feelings or money invested in the company in question, nor do I work for an independant coffee company. I therefore consider myself generally unbiased.

Where my concern with this article comes from is in the way that it glosses over the reasons why a company like Starbucks has to close 600 stores in the first place.

Think of it this way. Starbucks is massive. It is able to utilise economies of scale to keep it’s costs down. It is also able to afford marketing experts and PR people that small independent coffee companies don’t have access to in order to keep the public interested.

One of the few truths of the article was this:

“Starbucks has really created a coffee culture, raising awareness of good coffee, which is good for independents,” said Carol Watson, owner of the Milk and Honey coffee shop in Chicago. “But on the other hand, they’re on practically every corner, and that makes it tough on the little guy too.”

Frankly, I think independent companies should be worried. 600 stores represents approximately 10% of all Starbucks stores worldwide. How many small companies can afford a 10% total loss (or more) and thrive?

In my opinion, a lot of the aggression towards Starbucks comes from jealousy. How many of those small companies are trying very hard to be the big dog? Business is and always has been competitive. Don’t like the fact that another business is doing better than yours? Improve or fail. In the end it’s the consumer who will determine the winner. 

The customer is always right.

At this point, the customer is broke.

That’s the real story behind Starbucks closing 600 stores. People can barely afford to fill up their cars and get groceries, let alone spend several dollars on a coffee.

600 stores are closing. Thousands of jobs will be terminated. I guarantee that 600 independent coffee shops will not pop up to replace the stores being closed. So why is this a victory for anyone involved?

The truth of the matter is that big buisness doesn’t just create jobs and offer cheap products, it also offers a place for small business to sell their products too.

A car plant recently closed in a city several hours north of where I live. People lost their jobs in that city. The trickle down of that plant closing is that a lot of places that had contracts with that particular company are now having to scale down their operations and lay off employees.

Nobody wins when big business closes up shop. We can’t all work at local coffee shops and in turn patronize local coffee shops. The economy just doesn’t work that way.

21
May
08

Chai Crème Brulée

 creme brulee

During the recent move, I uncovered a ridiculous amount of tea scattered throughout my kitchen cupboards. There is everything from orange pekoe to pumpkin spice, in a wide variety of colours, from black to green to white.

This got me thinking, “What’s the deal with all this tea?” I barely even drink tea. Most of it I recieved as a gift.

Then I recalled the specialty tea store that had recently opened in a local mall.

Actually, in the past few years, at least three stores devoted exclusively to tea have opened up in this area. Has the world gone tea crazy?

I’ll assume the baby boomers are partially responsible. The search for eternal youth, or at least a tonic for creaky joints, makes them an obvious demographic.

Then again, Tim Hortons has been running those “steeped” ads a lot lately (at least here in Canada). I know a lot of media susceptible people who just have to have whatever the newest trend is.

Then there’s the first time away from home crowd. You know who I mean. Their the “I’m deep because I study at starbucks and drink tea just like my cool Asian roomate” group of “unique” individuals.

Wow, I just realized how mean spirited my posts sound when I haven’t had my coffee.

Don’t get me wrong. In the right context I love tea. I just have my doubts as to how much of my new found wealth I’ll be able to drink in this lifetime. I guess that means I’ll have to get creative…

Chai Crème Brulée

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp loose chai tea, good quality (10 ml)
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping (35%) cream (375 ml)
  • 1/2 cup homogenized whole milk (125 ml)
  • 1/4-cup sugar (60 ml)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • Sugar, for brulée toppingPreheat oven to 325 degrees F.1) Put the whipping cream, milk, sugar, vanilla bean and the chai tea in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to just to a boil. Remove from heat and cover. Let mixture steep for 15 minutes to develop flavor
    2) In a stainless steel bowl whisk the egg yolks. To make the custard, continue to stir egg yolks as you slowly pour the hot cream mixture over the yolks. Strain custard. Pour or ladle evenly into four 6-ounce ramekins or gratin pans.
    3) Bake in a water bath by placing ramekins into a shallow baking pan. Carefully pour enough boiling water into the baking pan so the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
    4) Bake just until custard centers jiggle slightly when pan is moved, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from water bath. Cool custard to room temperature. Refrigerate and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.
    5) Sprinkle 2 tsp. of sugar on top of the custards. Caramelize the sugar with a crème brulée torch or directly under the broiler. Decorate as desired.