15th Avenue Coffee and Tea by Starbucks

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15th Avenue Coffee and Tea by Starbucks

Postby John Oughtred on Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:22 am

hello back. Long time listener first time caller. Heard through the g vine 1 set to open in a month in Seattle with 2 more quickly thereafter. Owned by Howie, separate from green giant. 100+ locations by 2014 going back to original concept. Clover, manual driven espresso machines, etc... Anyone no more?

Thanks for letting me join after 2 years of pestering. 8)

Word,
Third World
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Joe Monaghan on Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:27 pm

There's an article in today's Seattle Times about it.http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/l ... cks16.html

I plan to check it out in person soon & will report back.

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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Brett Hanson on Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:13 pm

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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Jeff Givens on Thu Jul 16, 2009 6:34 pm

I'm not given to Starbucks bashing, but entire idea of them creating a faux-community coffee shop, complete with rebranded packaging, gives me a visceral feeling of disgust.

I really hope that this desperate attempt to "fake the funk" blows up in their faces.
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Brett Hanson on Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:28 pm

Am I alone here in my cautious optimism?

I've seen a lot of griefing out on the internets today and I can't get past the fact that if the rumors are true, this store will represent Starbucks turning the cargo ship (or at least sending out an exploratory cigarette boat) in a direction that engages my coffee interests.

I think the folks out there should take a look at what their arguments really boil down to. If their comments can be reduced to "I don't want to Starbucks to exist", this store isn't going to help/hurt them either way. If the argument is "I want Starbucks to engage the craft of preparing coffee in the same way that boutique shops do (semi-autos, clovers, press pots, etc) and be less green/Starbuck-y" there is a chance this shop could deliver on some of those hopes.

In a similar vein, I can't think of a single GM vehicle that I would currently consider buying, but I'm hopeful that the Volt will be a success. In the meantime, I don't spend my every waking moment being a Tesla fanboy and griefing on GM even though that would be easy to do. I feel like that would be petty, not to mention a waste of breath.
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Jeff Givens on Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:30 am

My beef with their approach is in its inherent dishonestly and deception. They are taking on the trappings of an independent, locally-owned shop in an attempt to capitalize on the "local" movement. It remains to be seen whether or not the quality improves, but to me, that's an issue not related to their un-branding.

This reminds me of how so many family-owned funeral homes have been quietly sold to national corporations. The sign out front doesn't change, but the profit-at-all-costs philosophy takes center stage, while at the same time, they maintain the facade of being a part of the local community.
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Robert Goble on Fri Jul 17, 2009 8:11 am

Jeff Givens wrote:My beef with their approach is in its inherent dishonestly and deception. They are taking on the trappings of an independent, locally-owned shop in an attempt to capitalize on the "local" movement. It remains to be seen whether or not the quality improves, but to me, that's an issue not related to their un-branding....

But maybe we should bemoan the populace that responds to this sort of superficial branding and inauthentic co-opting. It might be a chicken/egg argument but something tells me that what Starbucks is doing is precisely what the mass market would demand of them before they take any notice of change. Very few of us are mass market retailers -- we are specialty or niche market retailers (to the chagrin of our bankers). For the consumer today who actually sees McDonald's as a viable coffee substitute to Starbucks -- those guys (and believe me those are who we are talking about) are not going to notice or care about Starbucks making subtle improvements in coffee quality at their existing stores over time --- they need some immediate target focused heavy branded signpost to push the message that Starbucks is not McDonalds.

The herd does not pursue authenticity --- they don't respond to it --- they respond to this kind of thing. And as Brent says -- who knows - it may be a platform from which Starbucks actually can do coffee better -- wouldn't that be a good thing? Starbucks creates customers on their forward moving coffee journey who eventually become our customers so I see any forward movement by them as good for my business long term. Sure I hate to see the pure aesthetic of what we do co-opted, but did you think the trappings or design element of (hate to use this phrase) 3rd wave independent was not going to be exploited by someone? We're lucky it didn't end up in McDonalds.

I do have trepidation about someone exploiting our movement, but I'm happy to see that Starbucks is trying to position itself higher in the pyramid making the step from them to us not quite as gigantic a leap.

Just some thoughts.
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby td on Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:23 pm

I'm with Brett. If the possible competition from Starbuck's new concept worries you, then perhaps it is time to raise your game, or get out. As someone that travels quite extensively, both loves and requires coffee to function I am not at all displeased at the thought of Starbucks making this kind of move. Especially if it helps force many independents to reexamine their model, their personnel, and their floors.

As for the "pure aesthetic" of the 3rd wave- yea, sure- but making coffee is not an art, and retailing is a business.
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Sandy on Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:02 am

td wrote:I'm with Brett. If the possible competition from Starbuck's new concept worries you, then perhaps it is time to raise your game, or get out....... am not at all displeased at the thought of Starbucks making this kind of move. Especially if it helps force many independents to reexamine their model, their personnel, and their floors.

.


i concur. If Starbucks will surivive with this type of business model, just consider the possbilities that this will open for Restaurants and Bars to emulate. Hopefully this will be "the" opportunity for these types of establishments to wake up and take hold of their options instead of considering coffee as just an afterthought.
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby geir oglend on Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:15 pm

Quote from the news paper story:

"In the spirit of a traditional coffeehouse, it will serve wine and beer, host live music and poetry readings and sell espresso from a manual machine rather than the automated type found in most Starbucks stores."

This makes me wonder if they plan on breaking out some of the old 4group Lineas from their stock piles of la Marzoccos retofitted with PID .06 gigglers and Roburs with timers?? Maybe even chopped PF's.
In any case it is always good to try to re-invent yourself if you have a clear vision of where you're going.

my 2 cents, geir oglend
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby TimNoble on Sat Jul 18, 2009 6:59 pm

I see two things coming from this turn from Starbucks. Depending on how they ramp their marketing program up, it will simultaneously put another nail in their own main retail presence and drive interest in true specialty coffee establishments. The end result being more consumers being educated on a product that is born of the coffee craft, so good for us.
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Deferio on Sat Jul 18, 2009 8:19 pm

While I hate the deceptive nature of this thing it is true that
independents have a long history of complaining too much about Starbucks.
Instead of taking on the challenge they want to remove it.
This could be a great way to light a fire under the independent's butts and get them to start giving better service, quality (yes quality), atmosphere, and price.
If this ends up being a "game changer" then I hope we don't call foul where there is none just to buy time or to demonize the opposition.
This may turn out well in that it will force us, to paraphrase Terry Davis, "grow or die".
In many ways it is time to stop blaming them as they manage their resources well(accept the coffee)...for our historical mismanagement of our own resources (including the coffee).
There are exceptions of course but It seems obvious that, by and large, we as an indy coffee community need to grow up professionally.
Starbucks, as it did in the 80's and 90's, may actually be the catalyst to
our greater success yet again.
...that's one Grande Humble-ccino.
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby phaelon56 on Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:02 am

td wrote:As for the "pure aesthetic" of the 3rd wave- yea, sure- but making coffee is not an art, and retailing is a business.


I'll contend that making coffee *can* be an art, a craft and a science but commerce and the business end of retailing is what allows people to work with coffee and still pay the bills. Until or unless my pockets are so deep that I can open a cafe as a money losing venture purely for the aesthetic pursuit of coffee culture - decisions I might make about some key issues are driven by the need to make enough profit to pay employees adequately (if and when I get some) and grow the business.

I think Stumptown and Intelly serve as good examples of larger scale operations who've found a good balance between the aesthetic ideal and the hard realities of commerce but there are dozens of other coffee business on smaller scale who have also succeeded with that.
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Rich Westerfield on Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:21 pm

If they were doing all the stores as "Black Apron" or some other consistent name for purposes of differentiation, we'd be all for it and rooting it on, assuming it was a better presentation of coffee than the current stores.

But the, "we'll call it '15th Avenue' in one city, 'Griffith Park' in another, and 'Eastern Market' in another," just smacks of trying to take advantage of the locavore and 3/50 type movements and blatant contempt for consumers that we really hopes bites them in the ass regardless of the quality of the product.

As an aside, there's another issue local to PA. As PA has regional (county) allotments of ridiculously expensive liquor licenses (and no separate beer/wine only category), each license they suck up means one less for any restaurant/bar startup. It's a big issue outside of the cities as the chains can afford these (we were quoted $35K for one) while it's a killer for smaller operators - and with fewer available, the price only goes up.
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby andynewbom on Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:36 pm

I sincerely hope that they kick ass with this concept. Starbucks SHOULD be forced by those third wave kick ass coffee retailers to actually BUY and serve great coffee! Starbucks is being forced by all of us to change their game!!! this rocks!

Heres to seeing either 2,000 terrible coffee 'coffeehouses' FINALLY be forced out of business or
2,000 terrible coffeehouses step up their coffee and actually make something that tastes half way decent.

As I said when we started the Barista Guild;
'Imagine if we could have a hand in helping the average coffeehouse have an average Barista make an average espresso that tasted OK!'?"

Kick ass 15th avenue coffee/starbucks/yum brands! :D
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby nick on Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:38 pm

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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Deferio on Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:16 am

That barista looks like Jared Mockli! :wink:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/joshc/3750 ... 674139075/
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Deferio on Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:25 am

Nice space.
How does it taste?
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby phaelon56 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:17 am

In the photo that show beans sitting in a metal scoop they are absolutely glistening with an oily sheen. I see not much has really changed and that answers the taste question for me. IN all fairness I'll admit that I have not seen nor have I tasted any of the coffees they say they're "purpose roasting" in smaller batches targeted for use in stores with Clover. But the beans in that photo look like the same scorched stuff they've been pumping out all along.
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Jon Brudvig on Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:33 am

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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Brett Hanson on Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:32 am

The coverage and reactions so far have at least been amusing, if not entirely accurate.

Had a macchiato and cappuccino this morning- tasty. I was not asked any questions involving caramel or sizes. I was served a 3oz macchi and a 5-6oz capp in a tulip cup. The latte art was a bit rushed, but present.

Would the drinks from this AM crush the WBC? Nope, but I would argue:
(1) Very few "regular day of the week" beverages served in this nation would stand up to that scrutiny.
(2) This store is capable of serving WBC level coffee unlike its predecessors. Meaning- the stage is set for anything to happen. Next to the 4 group Linea there are 3 grinders. On top of the Linea there are at least 3 tampers (a few different Reg's if I remember). Any coffee could be used, any grinder could be changed out just by yanking the plug, any tamping technique can be changed on the fly.

Will this shop be confused for intelli.SEA overnight? Probably not, but the possibilities for improvisation present in this store are going to keep me coming back to check on their progress... oh, yeah, and to drink coffee.

The bit that's getting no coverage (and should by someone who's knowledgeable about tea- anyone? anyone?) is the unique and very up-front presentation of tea. If someone doesn't get around to it, I'll have to do some learning so I can understand what's going on and communicate it.
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Andrew Hetzel on Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:47 am

I wasn't confused by the move upon first hearing the announcement, but after seeing the video I'm stumped. With all of the available resources at their disposal, why would they launch a shop that is almost up to top industry standards? Shouldn't this be an opportunity to innovate and take the market in new directions?

It seems that this new location is just a weak carbon copy of the best small shops or chains -- a total reversal from the past 10 years that have seen many small shops or chains emerge that are a copy of Starbucks.

The most ironic image I see is that Melitta cone filter brew bar -- didn't those get popular because Starbucks bought Clover? The appearance of this device tells me that its sole intent it to build credibility / authenticity with an unsuspecting public. I imagine that most local shops would use the better technology if it were available.

15th Ave may be a new concept for Starbucks, but to me it seems it seems like an old concept to me.
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Brett Hanson on Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:08 pm

Andrew Hetzel wrote:...I'm stumped. With all of the available resources at their disposal, why would they launch a shop that is almost up to top industry standards? Shouldn't this be an opportunity to innovate and take the market in new directions?


This is one of my favorite lazy misconceptions about Starbucks. There is no Scrooge McDuck money bin. Just like everyone else here, Starbucks sells food and beverages and makes a slim profit on it. If a store isn't profitable, it is not sustainable, period. If a store's business model is not sustainable, it will lose money, and as we have seen (and are continuing to see) that store must close.

15th Ave is the most poignant example of this. The Starbucks at this very location was losing money and had to close. Its older-coffee-business-model of standard food, auto-spro, and blended could not be sustained in this neighborhood. Mind you, the standard Starbucks still works in a lot of places, for example Manhattan, KS (the little apple- wish I was joking about the city's marketing campaign) where it's just-about if not the best in town. The key is-15th Ave is a different business model from the one that formerly occupied the space- essential baking co food, a unique expression of tea, pourover coffee on demand, clover, manual espresso, and SOE. Similarly, I would argue that intellivenice is yet another different business model.

Are these concepts new to the world of coffee? No. Are they available at every other shop in town? No, they are not, so I would argue that 15th Ave represents something unique in THIS coffee market, albeit not unique to the world of coffee. For one example, SOE for all practical purposes doesn't exist in Seattle. Yes, Victrola will do it sometimes, Trabant occasionally, Stumptown when there's a farmer in town, but otherwise, no. 15th Ave has SOE built-in. I'm not saying that doing SOE was difficult, just that 15th Ave did it willfully and publicly. Unrelated, I really need to get to Alex's Mokas in the daytime so I can keep up to date on his stellar progress.

To answer your question, Yes, Starbucks could build one gold-plated futuristic coffee palace, but it would have to justify that excess to shareholders and if it didn't make enough money, it too would have to close. Money wasted, egg on face, jobs lost, heads rolled.

15th Ave looks vintage-y not just because that seems "in", but also because every feature in the store has to justify its price. For example, why a Linea and not a Synesso Hydra? The Linea works and... is paid for. It's really just that easy to understand. I think if the blog shares this level of detail, we're going to learn that a lot of the art and features of the store were not bought out of a catalog at a premium, but instead were forged from the sweat of the very folks that thought them up. Sound familiar?

Andrew Hetzel wrote:The most ironic image I see is that Melitta cone filter brew bar -- didn't those get popular because Starbucks bought Clover? The appearance of this device tells me that its sole intent it to build credibility / authenticity with an unsuspecting public.


With all the coverage, can we be straight here and agree that it's impossible for any public to be unsuspecting now? Can we also agree that with the word Starbucks printed on every item, menu, and wall in the store that the intent was never to "fool" anyone? The pourover bar isn't new, but neither is it ubiquitous in Seattle. Zoka's trying a few out, Neptune has it their game, but that's about the only appearance I've seen of pourover in the 206. No-one's going to walk into 15th Ave and think "oh, yeah, I've seen this in 'hardcore' shops- this must be a hardcore shop". Customers are honestly going to ask "what is that thing?" They might also ask why it looks like an old wooden toolbox (see "cuz it's paid for" above).
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Alistair Durie on Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:54 pm

Thank you for your insight Brett, I think you're spot on. I'm quite pleased to see this happening for so many reasons. It must be very difficult to realize change in a such a large corporation under such scrutiny... probably hard to get anything done differently at all. For Starbucks to launch a new concept store means there is something very real about this. Similar to the purchase of Clover - for me it was the most solid proof that single cup brewing is here to stay. With a boat the size of Starbucks I don't think major decisions are at all whimsical or experimental. This store presents a reach back to Starbucks beginnings with an authentic personal environment, manual coffee preparation with more of a focus on small drinks and quality overall. I think this is the best proof of concept the "front of the class" can get, and great inspiration to keep moving forward.

It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change. ~Charles Darwin
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Re: Starbucks opening new concept store.

Postby Kyle Glanville on Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:27 pm

Place looks awesome.

Anyone who claims that part of their professional goal is to introduce a wider audience to boutique specialty coffee should pat themselves on the back.

A reminder to always progress :)
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