I tried both varieties of Colombian and Italian Roast, and they were surprisingly good. Just as good or better than my office’s “by the cup” pod machine.
Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but be disappointed by what Starbucks and its founder Howard Schultz has done – launched its self-proclaimed “product of last resort”.
According to Eric Felten of the Wall Street Journal, just a few years ago the Starbucks director of research and development uttered that line at a conference – because instant coffee was way “off the target” from the core of its business.
It was a complete and total capitulation to the one powerful thing that had always worked against the Starbucks ideal, especially as it grew by thousands of stores – speed.
Today, fast always wins. This is a society where the concept of “lingering” is rapidly going the way of the dinosaurs. The Starbucks store, for me, has been quite the laboratory to observe this change over the past 15 years.
I can remember the smell, the music, the zen vibe, and the relaxed “no rush” atmosphere in 1994 when I first made my daily visits. Nobody hovered around the barista like vultures circling their prey.
Today, the music is turned way down. The lights are brighter and the zen is long gone. And 9 out of 10 of us are using our handhelds impatiently as we hurry the barista along. We want our lattes, and we want them now.
From that perspective, I can’t blame Starbucks for launching this product of last resort – it’s just tapping into our speed culture. Fast and faster. I even find myself growing more and more inpatient about waiting for just about anything – even if a Google search takes more than 5 seconds.
Deep down, I don’t want fast to win – so when one of the last bastions of “the experience rules” throws in the towel, I truly worry about what’s to come.
As I hover around the barista and buy a few packets of VIA. Life can be such a contradiction……