Bring on the Cheap Joe

Bring on the Cheap JoeIn the process of growing up I have acquired a new found set of taste buds.  I have grown to love, actually obsess, over the taste of salad.  Just last night, actually, I went to dinner and had nothing but salad.  Tossing some Romaine lettuce, spinach, and a variety of fresh vegetable toppings and some blue cheese dressing on the same plate gives you have a meal to die for.  I have also discovered a new found love of wines.  I drink red, white, and everything in between any chance that I get.  I enjoy the appreciation of wines, as well, not just the flavor.  Nothing beats a fresh piece of lamb and glass of Merlot.  (Oregon wines, Pinot Noir specifically, are making way to the top of my favorites list.  Try one if you have not.  They have a unique wetness and leave the lips craving the next sip.) But the one item that has made its way on this list has a few uses in my daily routine.  One, it saves me from getting headaches (that is simply due to my fixation on the sweet nectar of the gods) but two it helps me focus and stay awake when I need to meet any given deadline.  I am talking about the black magic from Starbucks; glorious coffee.

I like coffee to be dark, bold, and with no milk.  I do add sugar (Splenda mostly) but adding milk defeats the purpose of ordering a coffee in the first place.  I think that the true flavor of the coffee can not be appreciated if you are going to add dairy products to it.  Creamer is the same thing.  Sure, there are hundreds of options out there ranging from Hazelnut to Amaretto, but I want to taste the bean with each and every sip.

I drink a lot of coffee at work but I tend to frequent Starbucks quite a bit on the weekends.  (I do not drink it during the week as I have free coffee at work.  I figure why pay for it when I have options.)  I usually get the same thing (black coffee on ice and three packs of Splenda) and go on about my day.  But I am always shocked at the price tag when the cashier is done ringing up my order.  Starbucks has three sizes, Tall, Grande, and Venti, and even the smallest of the three (which would be the tall) is over two bucks for a regular coffee.  I remember the day (listen to me sounding all old and what not recalling days of my youth) when I could go into any given gas station and get a jumbo sized cup of coffee for under a dollar.  So why in the hell is Starbucks charging me more than twice that?  Because it’s good, that’s why.  There is just something about Starbucks coffee that sets it apart from the rest of the players.  Maybe it is the feeling you get when holding a cup from Starbucks but it always seems to impress me more than anything else out there.

But when Starbucks announced that they would be slashing the price of their JPC (just plain coffee) I did a little happy dance in my car.  I was listening to NPR and there was a story discussing this major shift for Starbucks over the upcoming months.  (They are rebranding on a store to store basis as well.  They are going to begin incorporating local artists on the walls and in the furniture.  I am curios to see how this plays out, actually.  There is just something about consistency that begs my attention.)  They have claimed that in the next six weeks their regular coffee blends (meaning just coffee and cream) will run you up to a dollar less than normal.  This is good for guys like me as it will one, force me to drink more coffee (did you know that for fifty cents you can get a refill if you are working/studying at Starbucks) and will be able to save a little more money to spend on well, you guessed it, more coffee.  But this is not necessarily good for all of you out there in coffee land.

In addition to the price slashes of the regular coffee, Starbucks will be increasing the prices on everything else.  The new price sheet will be based on the number of ingredients in the drink and the time that it takes to prepare it.  So while plain Jane coffee takes only a few seconds to pour, mixing a frappuccino will run you are few extra cents.  While the price increase will not break the bank, so to speak, but I can assure you that it will piss off a few coffee drinkers out there.  But the point of this price change, from the eyes of Starbucks, is to save money (expecically now with the state of this economy) and to realign their spending before they move forward into a new generation of coffee drinkers.  I like to compare Starbucks to Facebook.  Every time that Facebook makes a major design change, moving your applications and changing your routine of status updates, people complain.  But, in the end, we all come back and deal with the change and continue to use Facebook.  In this case, folks will complain about the price increase (and some will cheer for the decrease) but in the end you will still order your “double espresso extra room whip two sugars” the same was as you did before. Besides, if you are going to complain about a few extra pennies, you do not need to be buying coffee in the first place.