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Fascinating Taste3 Talk on Starbucks

Last night I came across this fascinating talk on Starbucks, given by Temple University History Professor Bryant Simon at the Taste3 Conference:

It was fascinating to hear Bryant deconstruct how he believes Starbucks works, and how our patronage of Starbucks reflects our culture. He discusses three aspects: the functional, emotional and expressive aspects of Starbucks.

"What we drink has meaning — it says something about who we are."

Bryant talks about the high caffeine content of Starbucks coffee (about twice other coffees), the emotional reasons why we buy (self-gifting, ordering language use and predictability) and the expressive aspects of Starbucks (being part of the performance, and showing our ability to afford the luxury of a fancy coffee).

Bryant's talk was both fascinating and disturbing, which for me is a good thing.

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Reader Comments (5)

You can't sneeze in Manchester without a Starbucks opening. There are about 15 branches currently. I wish all the people that go there would take a few minutes to just check out some indie coffee shops and put the price difference in a charity box or something. Starbucks coffee does not taste like coffee!
February 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTrump
This is a remarkably thin, as in shallow, deconstruction of Starbucks's appeal. It is hard to believe that he spent more than 13 minutes writing this presentation.

Maybe they sell good coffee.
February 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLarge Hamster
Trump, that's what I hear from my friend in London as well. In this talk Bryant talks about Delocator ( which lets you pick and area and find indy coffee shops surrounding a local Starbucks. Seems a pretty interesting tool.

Craig, I like Starbucks' coffee � I don't think taste or quality of the coffee is the issue Bryant getting at. In fact, Bryant goes to Starbucks and buys their coffee from what I heard in this talk. I think it's his observation of culture and seeing how in many ways culture has helped shape Starbucks into what they are � as much as Starbucks has. That's what's so fascinating to me.
February 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Yes thanks for outing me--I am Large Hamster.

My point is that this guy is a history professor (albeit at Temple University) who just spent months researching the Starbucks phenomenon and what he came back with are observations that are no more insightful or thought-provoking than the average daily spew vented by any one of thousands of bloggers.

He opines but he doesn't seek truth. This is just some guys rant. Truth is hard work and he doesn't bother with it. Bryant riffs instead. He should go into journalism.
February 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLarge Hamster
Large Hamster � outed? Your name "craig" is right in your email address, so it's no secret. :-)

Thanks for your opinions on the talk.
February 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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