March 13, 2007

AMEN TO THAT! From The Economist‘s latest web experiment*, The Inbox, a blog where every letter to the editor we receive is posted on the web:

In Starbucks’ case, it’s not the ambience that puts off consumers, it’s the coffee. If only they roasted it a bit less. My colleagues agree that if they had another option they wouldn’t buy Starbucks but, since there is a Starbucks on nearly every block around our office in the District, our options are limited.

Any free market economists want to take a swing at this one? I too would prefer less roasting. I have two conjectures: either they’re benefitting from first mover advantage, or stupid Americans have some sort of macho attachment to burned coffee, as if that charred flavour makes it somehow more authentic and manly.

Personally, I think the manly thing to do is to drink the stuff with the most caffeine. And contrary to popular belief, that isn’t espresso; it’s regular coffee. (The longer you roast the beans, the more caffeine is destroyed.) Starbucks makes it even worse by overcooking their espresso beans. Anyone drinking burned Starbucks on the assumption that the smoky flavour must mean it carries a real kick–not so, not so. Char grilling is for steaks, not Arabica beans.

* Full disclosure: I work for The Economist, and manage one of its other blogs.

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