July 18, 2009

Starbucks New Store Formats - Ripping off Neighbors?

Starbucks is nothing if they are innovative, and here they go again. The purveyors off all things coffee are now re-launching a handful of stores in Seattle that will offer coffee, wine and beer along with entertainment. The store locations will shed the Starbucks name in favor of other names, including one who's name is simply their address: 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea. The store is opening within the coming week, and will be one of at least three stores to make the change which is driven by the desire to mimic the coffee shop and cafe culture of yesteryear/ pre-homogenization of the coffee shop by none other than Starbucks.

The concerns however are coming out of neighbors and competitors of the coffee giant, as Starbucks seemed to have done their research and then reapplied what they saw; so far not so bad. The copying is not so obvious until you actually mimic what is next door, which smacks of rude rip-off. I guess all is fair in love and war......

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

July 9, 2009

Fake Amazon Reviews - DeLonghi has them removed

Ouch - nothing like getting caught offering what seem to be a little bit out-of-bounds opinions on Amazon reveiws. It seems that a gentleman was shopping for a DeLonghi espresso machine and found some gushing reviews on the Amazon site by a reviewer T. Carpenter of Stillwater NJ; then he noticed that this person also reviewed twelve other Delonghi products, giving them equally gushing reviews.

The Wall St Journal reports that the reviewer (Tara Carpenter) is actually an employee of the DeLonghi firm and that they have since asked Amazon to remove the reviews. While she was listed on the corporate site as the communications Manager, she is no longer listed there. According to the WSJ, she is still employed there. At this writing, she is in LinkedIn as a Communication Manager at DeLonghi. Check out Russ Taylor's blog for more details and the original report.

In the end, the problem for Ms. Carpenter is that she used her own name, because I am pretty sure that you can hire people to write reviews for you, making the obvious link back to the firm a lot harder to connect.

It seems like DeLonghi is stepping up and working to cleanse the system of these reviews. I think DeLonghi had better talk to the folks at Target to get her reviews removed from their site also; I did a quick search and found two up there; see below.

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Buyer beware - those reviews may not be the trustworthy reviews that you thought they might be.


Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

Free Mocha Mondays

McDonalds is serving up sample sized Free Mochas Mondays from 7AM - 7PM for the next several weeks. The sampling event should drive some interest in the newly launched McCafe concept. The samples should generate up to 10 million free samples across the Mondays stretching from July 13th to August 3rd.

Consumers can cool off with a complimentary 7 oz. Iced Mocha or indulge in a 8 oz. Hot Mocha each Monday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at participating McDonald's restaurants from July 13 through August 3. "This is one of the largest sampling initiatives we've taken on as a company," said Neil Golden, chief marketing officer, McDonald's USA. "McCafe has already become an essential part of our customers' everyday routine, and now we are giving even more people an opportunity to enjoy a complimentary, fully-customizable McCafe Mocha morning, noon and night."

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

July 3, 2009

Illy Love the Difference Graffitti Cans

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Famous for its espresso, and artist collection espresso cups, Illy has brought out a Graffiti Collection for its canned espresso that will be sure to live on after its use, or at least liven up a summer kitchen during use. The Love the Difference collection supports a foundation that brings together the diversity of cultures around the Mediterranean coast. The clear plastic sleeve that brands the coffee is quickly removed, revealing the artwork below.

ReadMore at Illy

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

June 28, 2009

Should Coffeehouses Roast their Own Coffee?


This subject was explored this past weekend in the Seattle Times, which is a pretty good place to work the answer out. I can't say that I feel that coffeehouses have to roast their own; it's a lot of work and it's no easy task to come up to speed with a roaster while figuring out your blends and specialties of the house.

I do believe though when I have looked back at the best coffees that I have had they have all come from cafes that do roast their own either on premises or at a sister shop around town. I used to live about a block from one such coffee house and while the smell of roasting coffee is not universally loved, I saw it as a sign to head over to the shop and grab the fresh stuff the next day as they started to put it all out for sale. Still off-gassing when you opened the bins, the smell of the coffee that next day was amazing, and the freshness of course couldn't be beat.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

June 23, 2009

Dunkin Run iPhone App


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to cover this, Dunkin Donuts has an iPhone App and online service to help you or your co-workers organize a run to the store. The service allows you to send invites via email to groups of people and allows you as the runner to get an accurate order list that you print out and hand to the Dunks guy. The application on the iPhone also gathers the order and gets it compiled for taking to the store. In fact, why not send the group the email, give then 5 minutes to get the orders in and walk out the door? By the time you walk in the store, you have the orders on your phone. Just a matter of time before Starbucks does this, only you'll be able to have swanky designs in the background and be able to tie your order to your Starbucks credit card.

at iTunes (iTunes link) or Dunkn Run (website)

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

June 21, 2009

Fresher Coffee at Starbucks? Maybe

Reports have Starbucks moving away from some streamline approaches to making their drip coffee to an approach that tries to emphasize quality and overall customer experience over efficiency. It may sound like a small step, but let's take a look.

Starbucks is moving to a practice where beans will be ground right before each pot of drip coffee is brewed, and brew that pot every 24 minutes. This is a change from the current practice of grinding in the morning for the day ahead of time, saving critical minutes when the shop is busy and people are standing in line. McDonalds, the kings of service efficiency and design, might say that you do the most efficient method, but it missed the amazing aroma that pulls people into the fantasy that coffee shops conjure. Will the pot of coffee be better? Technically, yes, but to the average patron, sipping it out of a paper cup through a plastic lid blocks down the street, no way. The overall experience should be better if they can tie that aroma to the shop and the act of getting that great cup of coffee.

Across town where McDonalds is trying their best to get a big foothold in the Coffee market, the place smells like fries and a burger - so coffee shop aroma there. This can be a key differentiator for Starbucks and help them reinforce the quality image that they are trying to culture.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

June 17, 2009

Marley Coffee - Lively Up Yourself Espresso

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The Bob Marley legend lives on in many ways, and this time it's through a new line of coffee put out by Bob's son Rohan. The line off coffees also support the Marley Coffee Foundation, a charity focused on brining soccer fields to the coffee producing nations around the world.

The Marley Coffee Line includes:

Lively Up! - organic espresso - "Our exquisite 5-bean espresso is dynamically balanced and rich in body. Its dense, abundant taste leaves a long, savory finish with flavors of cocoa, candied fruit and buttery caramel notes."

One Love Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe
- "From the birthplace of coffee, One Love's floral aromas unfold with hints of blueberry, cocoa and spice with a medium body and bright acidity. It tantalizes the palette leaving a profound cherry finish."

Mystic Morning Wake up Coffee - "This rich but snappy coffee is medium to full bodied with wonderful acidity. Aromas and tastes of cocoa, spice, cedar, cinnamon and cooked pumpkin gives you the perfect morning kick."

Jammin' Java Organic Full City Roast - "Sultry, smoky, sweet, and yet unexpectedly smooth brew will leave you wanting more. Full bodied with traces of earthy overtones, dark chocolate berries that produce a zingy acidity and rich lingering finish."

ReadMore at Marley Coffee

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

May 28, 2009

McDonalds vs. Starbucks Taste Test

CoffeeReview.com has posted a pretty good article that details their taste test cupping of McDonalds vs. Starbucks. The results may surprise you, they surprised me. McDonald's wasn't blown away, and my take is that McDonald's is good enough to grab a share of the market and keep people from migrating up to/over to Starbucks. I don't think that McDonald's is vying for the Coffee Connoisseur's crown here, they are vying for your money.

If you believe Howard Schultz, Starbucks isn't really worried about the competition, but their recent ad campaign that drives for coffee authenticity says they are as they talk about the intrinsic value of their coffee, their quality and your need not to accept anything inferior (read: "McDonalds"). Should be an interesting battle, as McDonald's will certainly achieve some success at what cost to Starbucks, only Howard and a few of his inside market share crunchers will know, but it is pretty clear that the press seems to think that success by McDonald's has to come at the expense of Starbucks from all the head to head attention the McDonald's launch is generating. While I am not a zealous fan of Starbucks, I do appreciate the quality that they bring to the party, and with McDonald's investment in the espresso coffee market, I believe that they will grow the market significantly. Some of that growth will most likely come in the form of muted growth at Starbucks in the future.

CoffeeReview.com took a look and rates the Cappuccinos the same, with a slightly milkier flavor for the McDonald's one versus the Starbucks version offering a bit more depth to the coffee flavor. this was also true for the Lattes. The Mocha and Caramel flavored drinks at McDonald's sound like they were designed to be more appealing to McShake drinkers with their sweetness levels and low coffee impact. The difference was "Dramatic" according to the article.

More at CoffeeReview.com

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

May 27, 2009

Handpresso - Top off Your Ice Cream

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The Handpresso offers and easy way to get espresso wherever and whenever you want, as long as you have access to hot water. Well they just sent out a newsletter and offered another cool use for espresso this summer; as a topping to ice cream. Take vanilla ice cream, scoop it into bowls, and put it back in the freezer to get rock hard. Bring it out, and pull a shot of espresso right onto the vanilla ice cream You might even try topping it off with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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