12 Bucks for a Cup of Joe – Why it is Worth it to Many

Barista Ryan McDonnell siphons coffee using vintage technology at the coffee experience bar of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. (David Ryder/Bloomberg)

Barista Ryan McDonnell siphons coffee using vintage technology at the coffee experience bar of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. (David Ryder/Bloomberg)

George Will notes in the Washington Post the other day that Starbucks has a new and exclusive coffee experience awaiting you. Let him explain.

Indiana’s Thomas R. Marshall, who was America’s vice president 100 years ago, voiced — he plucked it from a Hoosier humorist — one of the few long-remembered utterances to issue from that office: “What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar,” which would be $1.11 in today’s currency. A century later, what the country needs is a $12 12-ounce cup of coffee.

Or so Howard Schultz thinks. Betting against the man who built Starbucks to a market capitalization of $86 billion is imprudent.

Today, you cannot swing a dead cat without hitting a Starbucks store. There are 25,000 in 75 countries, with another 12,000 due by 2021, so Starbucks is not an elusive or exclusive experience. This poses a problem peculiar to affluent societies, and an opportunity. Seattle, where the original Starbucks was opened in 1971, now has a Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room where customers can turn a cup of “small-batch” coffee into an experience — Starbucks sells experiences as much as coffee — of both conspicuous consumption and conspicuous connoisseurship. Bloomberg reports that for a pittance, a.k.a. $10, skinflints will be able to buy a cold-brew coffee, which presumably is an excellent thing, infused with nitrogen gas, which sounds like an acquired taste.

Well, OK, even though my taste runs more to strong although not burned Java. In fact, I dislike  Starbucks, and find the average convenience store coffee better, although I admit that gets you negative style points from the cool kids.

My favorite(s) come from the Black Rifle Coffee Company, a fairly new outfit, started by veterans. I like the coffee, and I like the badassery, which feels so very American, for a change. Like this from their site:

Patriotism, honor and sacrifice; three words that hipsters, (most) millennials and as of recently…an NFL quarterback know nothing about. Thousands have served our country through 2 wars and have seen first-hand what sacrifice means. Personally, I have lost many of my best friends and teammates to both wars. Whether they agreed on the politics behind being there, when our country asked, they called! So sitting on my ass while our nations anthem is played is something I cannot fathom. I can say with a substantial amount of certainty that with any other veteran, this is also the case. With all that said, the United States of America would not be who we are without the right to free speech, expression, religion and most importantly…the right to bear arms.

Worth my money, and yours, to have people around that understand that.

Back to George:

Four decades ago, the economist Fred Hirsch distinguished between the material economy and the positional economy. Once a society has satisfied basic material needs (food, shelter, clothing), it turns yesterday’s luxuries (cars, air conditioning, college educations) into necessities. Because these are mass-market commodities, such material prosperity is a leveling, egalitarian force. Positional competition is emphatically not.

In the competition for an “elite” education or an “exclusive” vacation spot, one person’s success is necessarily a loss for many other persons because positional goods cannot be expanded indefinitely. Of course, Starbucks Roasteries could be expanded by the thousands, but this would make the “experience” banal and drain the stores of their positional power.

via Starbucks shines in our ecosystem of snobbery – The Washington Post

Yep, he’s right. In fact, my liking for BRCC is kind of like that as well. It’s damned good coffee, in my opinion, but a good part of the appeal is in the values they promote. And in a sense, we all do this. Why do we drive a Caddy instead of a Chevy, or a Ram pickup instead of a Prius, or any of those myriad choices we make. It has a lot to do with how we see ourselves, and how we want others to, as well. Nothing new under the sun, it’s always been that way, and it always will. That’s why I wear Lucchese boots and a Stetson hat these days, instead of Chuck Taylor All Stars and a stray baseball cap.

You know, I always laugh at people buying bottled water, but it’s the same thing, Richard Hammond explains it pretty well, amongst other interesting things to do with water.

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About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

18 Responses to 12 Bucks for a Cup of Joe – Why it is Worth it to Many

  1. the unit says:

    Lying about the kitchen are empty, partially empty, partially filled, and newly purchased full bottled water bottles. Also empty and partially empty, and partially filled bottles thrown out in the drive from the car. At present they are S. Pellegrino, Mountain Spring, and Aqua Panna Toscana brands. Through the years of 35 years of marriage there has been probably all of the other brands ever made. Purchases of all these have been made by wife and daughter.
    I don’t drink that expensive stuff. My water comes from Sunkist Diet Orange Soda and food like Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Potatoes and oh yes Butter Beans. Also from Spam and Hamburger.
    Rather than raise Cain about the money spent over the years, I just resolved to grin and bear it. After all, that money might have been spent on…well maybe on Carnival Cruises. Oh my gosh that’s certainly asking for sickness. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Yep, I’ll buy it occasionally when I’m in the field, and what I’m inclined to do, is refill the bottles and stick them in the fridge, I do like cold water-just not paying for it! Laughed when I was in Indiana, a statewide drug store chain sold private labeled bottled water (gallons, in those days); it was nothing but Indianapolis bottled water. 🙂 Hammond say a lot of the British bottled water is the same. His experiment in selling it made me LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        Video was very humorous. I expect the guy shouldn’t worry too much. He got humoral immunity to it all. And such a screwy looking fellow with such a cute wife and baby daughter. His study and experiment methods should save him a lot of grin and bear it through life. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          He’s good. He was one of the three blokes on the old Top Gear UK, now on Amazon (which I haven’t seen yet). He like all of them does some pretty good work. He is screwy looking though. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          Yeah good. Bringing wife and daughter into it. He must’ve seen Johnny Cash In London video. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Might have. All three of them would be welcome, very welcome, in fact, at my place, with their families. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          And the twins. Not so much the doctor. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Indeed! They look pretty good for 22 errr 38, don’t they! 🙂

          Like

        • the unit says:

          Well at my age… 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yep, mine too. But then again he’s older than me, although I’m not sure about you! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          Jim Morrison? I preceded him in life by a year and a half. He preceded me in expiring by lots of years.
          Funny story around Pensacola, FL. Several years ago there was an old house for sale in the historic district. It was told as part of the sales pitch that Morrison was conceived in the house back then. Last I heard it didn’t help. It has likely sold but not at the inflated price such a tale was supposed to bring.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          It rarely does, in my experience. Some this provenance matters, but in houses, not so much, unless perhaps Henry VIII slept there, and then only maybe!

          Crap, can’t tell my elderly rock stars apart anymore – I was thinking Mick Jagger for some reason. Guess that’s what happens when you watch to much radio! 🙂

          Like

        • the unit says:

          Well anyways, him too by year and one month. I’d just as soon he precede me in the next category. 🙂
          And their young pictures do look similar.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Thought maybe you did. And I surely agree with that.

          They do, rather! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          Being older, I might have to change my marketing package to something more gimmicky to sell myself. I’m really just regular tap water like too. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          As am I, my friend. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          Doesn’t really matter though. Food has replaced sex in my life. Now I can’t get in my own pants. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Hey, I resemble that remark! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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