UPDATE: Starbucks just announced the first big step in its turnaround: it's closing all its stores. That's right, for three hours tonight the company will shut down every single one of its coffee shops and retrain its staffers. I'm really curious who at Starbucks came up with this idea. And why that person wasn't laughed out of the room when he said, "Hey, let's close all our stores at once so our customers can get their lattes from Dunkin Donuts."
Starbucks built a huge market for good coffee. Then lots of small coffee shops entered that market and started beating Starbucks at its own game. Since I last wrote about it, I've become convinced that Starbucks has a long way to go before it can regain its reputation.
This past weekend, I had a horrible cup of coffee at Starbucks. Meanwhile, I've discovered Cafe Grumpy, which makes an unbelievable cup of coffee. The minimum you'll pay for a small cup at Cafe Grumpy is about $2.75, and the large can run $6, depending on the blend. I don't buy coffee very often—I usually brew my own—so when I do, I'm willing to spend a little more for quality. I'd certainly spend $3 for a great cup at Cafe Grumpy when the alternative is shelling out $2.50 for mediocre java at Starbucks.
Then this morning, on my way to work, I stopped to use the bathroom at a Starbucks in SoHo. It was filthy. At nine in the morning, the Starbucks bathroom had already accumulated enough trash to rival any McDonald's commode. McDonald's is already competing with Starbucks in the latte arena ... if it just cleans up its bathrooms, I'll never have to go to Starbucks again.