Too easy to criticize Starbucks?

Starbucks Logo: Evolution of coffee brand |

Kevin Knox answers another of my questions

Question-In the blogosphere, Starbucks seems to be an easy target to hate on for easy clicks. It tends to bother me. Does it bother you? Or is it deserved?

Kevin’s Answer-I think most of the criticism is uninformed. Howard Schultz deserves enormous respect on the business side (along with enormous disrespect for lying to those of us who built the business and not including us in the gigantic stock option windfall of people like Behar, Olsen, etc. who were at best peers in terms of actual coffee knowledge and expertise of people like myself and many others in middle management who got nothing).

As for industry criticism, in order to earn the right to criticize Starbucks you need to have surpassed them in the quality and consistency of the coffee you offer and few if any of the newer chains or even regional independents meet that standard. There’s a lot of arrogance out there on the part of people who never spent the years learning best practices from the Italian master roasters (e.g. Illycaffe) and Peet’s, never apprenticed with master cuppers, etc.

Anyway for informed criticism of both Starbucks and the Third Wave folks who think they’ve improved things I humbly recommend my now largely dead coffee blog:

How Howard Schultz conquered self-doubt to build Starbucks
I don’t hate Starbucks or Howard, even though he mispronounced my name.

Tripio Excerpt- At the Open Forum I saw a lot of faces I didn’t know. But plenty that I did. Of course, it was a lot of the same people from last week, management, that is. The big exception was HS of course. I had never seen him in person but liked his vibe even from across the room. When he got up to speak, he sounded different from Dennis’ impersonation from last Christmas season. I did have to smile to myself, recalling that, as I applauded HS taking the podium.

Like everyone else in the audience I sat in silence and listened intently. It was mostly all great news. The Cosmodemonic is just getting started and not taking any prisoners. HS didn’t put in those terms but that’s how I remember it. And I very clearly remember HS saying that “They are going to write books about the Cosmodemonic, people.” That stuck in my head: write & books. The reasons are obvious. The reason I don’t’ remember much of the rest is that a few minutes after the speech was over, HS called some partners to the stage for recognition. I was one of them. He called my name about halfway through the presentation (he mispronounced the last name and I politely corrected him), handed me a Cosmo Bravo Award and shook my hand. It was for the “exceptional customer service experience” demonstrated to the Midas guy who bought a half pound of everything. Recognition in front of everyone. From HS himself.

“Anyone can have an opinion” -Pete Townshend from White City

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