Sunday, August 2, 2009

15th Avenue Coffee and Tea

Starbucks and my life are weaved together. It's been the thing that beats the 3 pm slump for me since ages. It keeps me going, literally. If I could work from there, I would. If I could schedule all my meetings there, I would. If I could just sit and read in the inviting orange couch with a warm blanket all day, I would.

Starbucks is now venturing into something novel. The new venture is Starbucks but not Starbucks. It's a hybrid of a bar and a coffee shop. The idea is to open a few Seattle locations, each one named after its neighborhood, furnished with repurposed materials and offering a wide variety of coffee and tea brewing options. It doesn't have the big green logo that I've conditioned my eyes to spot from far away or their signature color scheme. Needless to mention, it has a rather cool decor and a warm inviting feel from the description I've read and the snaps I've seen. It also offers some new age stuff like you could bring in your own LPs to play on the sound system and and this one's brand new, host poetry readings. Perfecto.

I'm all about companies reinventing themselves when the going gets tuff but am undecided on this one. Lots of companies take the major branding overhaul path. A while back I heard about Holiday Inn looking to build/acquire something quirky and charming as well under a different name. I guess companies continue to grow in one vertical until they reach a plateau and then they typically branch out. The same thing happened to Starbucks when they shut down thousands of stores last year and cut down on hours in some of the existing ones. I wonder if they can create an authentic neighborhood coffeehouse experience though given the liquor component.

Maybe someday I'll walk in and pretend like I've never heard of it before, and just soak the air in.

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