[Being a post made to Plastic.com I wish for some bizarre reason to see preserved, shorn of context, for some small modicum of posterity.]
Once more, someone confuses quantity with quality; what on earth can you say to someone who can only measure worth in currency?
When Starbucks was a tiny coffee shop in Seattle, buying small amounts of coffee to satisfy their local clientele, they could make some claim that theirs was a premium product. But their explosive growth means that they have to buy more and more (and more) coffee. And anyone with any sense at all can tell you that at some point you’re going to run out of good coffee to buy. Your standards are going to decline. You are going to purchase larger and larger lots of crappier and crappier coffee.
You cannot claim to purvey premium coffee when you’re slapping bags of your product on the shelves of major grocery stores throughout the country. There just isn’t enough good coffee out there.
Now: this is true of the explosive growth of coffee consumption in general; even if it were merely driven by locally owned mom’n’pops springing up on every corner, instead of corporate outlets. But with mom’n’pops you have diversity in purchasing, in the source of the coffee, and a greater chance that someone’s going to hit on the right combination of source, process, and service to deliver good coffee. With Starbucks, you get what you get with McDonald’s: the same damn crap no matter where you go, spread into a thin uniform paste across as much of the land as they can reach. And the larger it gets, and the larger its economy gets, the worse the quality will be, overall.
(Have I had Starbucks? Yes. It’s better than Seattle’s Best, which tastes like burnt Folger’s. It isn’t as good as Coffee People. I vastly prefer Stumptown, though.)
You aren’t a true free marketeer, Anonymous. (You rarely are.) A true free marketeer would be appalled by the ways that large corporations use extra-market tactics to bully competition out of the running before their products ever have a chance to directly compete. You, Anonymous, are a worshipper of power, nothing more; you fetishize sales reports and profit margins and box office returns and TV ratings as if they were a magical process, as if, through contagion, their success would rub off on you like some minor mirror of their wealth and power. That’s why you love millions of sales and tax cuts for the rich and box office blockbusters and shoe companies that pay a single megastar more to preen in a couple of commercials than their entire Asian workforce that actually makes their products—even if their aggrandizement hurts you directly. That’s why you sneer at people who try to get something back when they’ve been cut or burned or driven out of business by these giant bullies—you’ve got to distance yourself from their pathetic loss as much as possible, lest it drag you down. Even if in the final analysis you have far more in common with those “losers”; even if it’s shown to you how their cause would benefit you and make your world a better place. You are superstitious and ignorant, knowing nothing of the true workings of what you term the “free market,” and desperate to remain that way.
And you wouldn’t know a good cup of coffee if I threw it in your face.