January 10, 2005

Coffee: the Agony and the Ecstasy

WE NOTE WITH APPROVAL this handy list, which explains in plain English the myriad options one has when ordering at locations of the Starbucks Coffee Co., the friendly neighborhood coffeehouse with a market capitalization of $23 billion.

While we have not had Starbucks coffee in roughly 18 months -- and have no plans to drink it anytime soon -- we do think this list will go a long way in preventing us from looking like an idiot on the rare instances when we do order it. For when we wander into Starbucks, we generally want one of two things, those being either a small coffee or one of those caramel-laden thingies. As the Company does not describe the items as such, we usually end up holding up the line and we aggravate all the people in patchouli. Therefore, we salute the author of this list for providing us with a handy reference guide as we decide upon one of 190,080 possible permutations for our coffee drink.

Now, we do realize that many readers may express shock and amazement at our admission that we have ever had Starbucks coffee, for a few reasons. First, we see the practice of buying coffee out as wasteful and decadent; second, we prefer other ways to secure our daily requirement of caffeine; and third, we distrust and fear everything that goes along with the Starbucks Experience. We do not begrudge those who do enjoy that, of course -- it IS, after all, their right -- but that said, we see no reason on God's Green Earth why we ought pay $4 for one of Starbucks' drinks. After all, look at what we're getting for that $4 -- uninspired service, overpriced ingredients and an environmentally-friendly cup. And if we wanted a milkshake, we'd go somewhere else.

But this is not to denigrate the joy -- nay, the ecstasy -- of a good cup of coffee, which we occasionally enjoy. Nor is it to denigrate the many coffee-flavored things which exist here in New England. For instance, in New Hampshire, it is possible to buy "coffee milk" -- a downright heavenly blend of milk and coffee syrup. It is one of our few dietary luxuries, and we enjoy it much. Why, just tonight, we had a small glass of coffee-flavored soya milk for dessert -- which not only tastes great, but it provides a weak little kick to the system. And for our money, you can't beat Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. We have only had those on very rare occasions, but they're worth every cent.

Kona beans, we would note, run about $16 per pound; Jamaican Blue Mountain beans run anywhere from $27 to $40 per pound, depending on your supplier. At forty cups to the pound, this puts the per-cup price of Kona at 40 cents, while Jamaican Blue will run you a buck at most. It is thus understandable how Starbucks has nearly a 12 pc operating margin.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at January 10, 2005 09:11 PM | TrackBack