• Coffee shops that don’t have mermaid out front…

    by  • 12/14/2004 • geek, life • 3 Comments

    From Incite by Design

    Corporate culture or no, sometimes you have to take a good hard look at the product your [sic] convincing people they need and wonder about the quality of your life. At least the people who work for Starbucks have an excuse… ?

    That link in there to the Starbucks fan page… Wow. I suppose that Starbucks is the first introduction that most people have to espresso based drinks. I mean, those little standalone coffee shops are full of weird people reading books, or having odd conversations. It’s not the furniture or the scenery, though. It’s the coffee. I like good coffee, and that’s something I don’t find at Starbucks, any more than I can find a good lunch at McDonalds. Of course, I refuse to spend money at McDonalds ever again…

    It’s a bit sad to see that the Sugarbowl on 124th in Edmonton has become yet another Internet Cafe and Juice Bar… I pretty much lived there during my time in Edmonton. Met a lot of cool people and drank a lot of excellent coffee. Perfectly poured lattes in clear glass cups, black on top, and white on the bottom until you stirred them together. One of the two best places for sandwiches I ever found in Edmonton. Oddly enough the other best sandwich place was just across the intersection at Colonel Mustard’s.

    I was confused when I first saw a little coffee shop open up across the street from the Starbucks in my building. I mean, what were they thinking? It’s Starbucks. They may as well come across the street and break your legs; they’re the “boring coffee mafia” after all. The new guy’s shop is named “Yale Coffee” and he has some exceptional Italian coffee there (LaVazza?) . The coffee supplier is as interested in seeing him succeed across the street from the Evil Mermaid as anyone, and so supplied him with all the coffee he could use, in order to provide free coffee drinks for everyone between 8:00 and 10:00am for a week. Even after the promotion, every day when I go in there to buy a coffee, there are people seated by the fireplace, and a couple people working on laptops at tables (the rumor is that he has free WiFi). I think that people like to go to real restaurants for burgers instead of McDonalds, and given the opportunity they’d really enjoy sitting in a real cafe with real people, drinking real coffee.

    People are afraid to open up coffee shops, knowing that Starbucks will come along and steal all of their business. This appears to have been the case here in Vancouver, BC, where one of the few places you can find to have an espresso outside of the Commercial Drive area (Little Italy) is one of the three Starbucks locations on your block. That’s one of the reasons that I still drink Starbucks on occassion – it’s pretty much the only game in town.

    It’s part of the whole idea that you should try to think locally… It’s not that local people always need to be given the edge, but they should be given the chance. If they do a bad job of it, don’t go back, but break out of the corporate trap just once. Try going to a local diner for a burger rather than to the Burger King, or try going to the cafe full of weirdo artists for a coffee, and sit down with a real, ceramic cup in the shop and drink your coffee rather than a plastic topped cardboard cup. Just once, and see if the coffee doesn’t taste better without the bland atmosphere.


    3 Responses to Coffee shops that don’t have mermaid out front…

    1. 12/14/2004 at 11:25 am

      I think the climate for coffee has change significantly in the past 10 years. I remember what an “exciting” think it was in my 40k population town in Oregon to have a Starbucks opening downtown. We had a couple of espresso stands around town, and perhaps two real coffee shops–and for us high school students, those were often somewhere we were unlikely to go to because they were the hangouts for the university students. As I think about that now, god do I wish I’d gone anyway, but such is the fun of a middle sized town in Oregon.

      The happy statistic for Vancouver though, is that we have more sushi restaurants per capita than Starbucks. A fact I’m very fond of. ;)

    2. 12/14/2004 at 1:27 pm

      Right on! Put a marketer out of business. Hah.

    3. Mandy
      10/28/2005 at 6:27 am

      I frequent a small town coffee shop called the Friendship House rather than Starbucks. As a consumer I appreciate the atmosphere there, Warm, cozy, friendly. not to mention unique gifts. It is less exspencive than Starbucks,however even if it cost more I’d still go.The coffee is actually better!The brand name does not always make the consumer’s descision.

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