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18 February 2009

'Bucking Hell

Starbucks have decided to launch their very own variety of instant coffee "so good" that people cannot tell the difference between the instant and their regular filter coffee; I don't think this is saying very much but never mind. It's going to be called "Via Ready Brew," which makes about as much sense as the rest of the Starbucks lexicon (it took me several attempts to parse the thing until I realised that "Via" was probably the sub-brand name and the "ready brew" part described what is was--certainly, the construction [preposition [adjective+noun]] isn't any closer to being standard English than venti or tall (when used in the sense of, "the smallest beverage we offer")).

Apparently, the credit crunch is hitting Starbucks hard (not hard enough, in my opinion) and they feel that the way forward is to offer packs of instant coffee that cost £1.20 for three cups-worth! I don't really like instant coffee but I keep an emergency jar of Nescafe instant in the cupboard just in case disaster strikes and I run out of Nespresso pods and for some reason cannot walk the 100 metres to the two Costas within spitting distance of my flat. If I were trying to cut down on my coffee expenditure, though, and wanted to switch to instant, I wouldn't pay £1.20 for three packs of Mudbucks; I would buy a jar of Nescafe "Espresso" instant for about £2.75, which would last for weeks in a normal coffee-drinking household.

It wouldn't be so bad if Starbucks coffee actually tasted nice but I really can't stand it. Sometimes, I think I'm exaggerating when I say this but each time I go to Starbucks because there are no alternative purveyors of coffee and I can barely stand to drink the overly hot, overly milky, muddy tasting latte masquerading as a cappuccino.

The company chairman, Howard Schultz, sez this morning's paper copy of the Grauniad, "said that through a hi-tech process, Starbucks has "cracked the code" in retaining freshness and flavour in instant coffee" [italics mine]. In other words: we used a sprinkling of sciences and a dash of technology with a generous helping of bollocks and mixed it in to our existing coffee blend.

Given Schultz's superb knowledge of how to run a global purveyor of coffee that tastes awful, he was clearly justified in talking knowledgeably about the UK economy... Perhaps Mandy should have been more polite and instead used an insult like, " t** d**nker," which may well have hit home a little harder.

It's a shame that Starbucks don't have Sterling Cooper as their agency; I'm sure Don Draper would be able to turn me on to Starbucks's latest product. Yes, it's definitely time for me to go and watch Mad Men now.


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