The Starbucks Experience Wins Over Coffee Every Time

Starbucks CupI was thinking about this the other day while waiting in line at Starbucks. Why am I here? If someone were to ask me what’s your favorite coffee shop, Starbucks would be much further down the list. I would rattle off Prado and Turks on The Drive, or JJ Beans on Main and 14th. Or, Bonjourno (I think that’s the name) on the corner of Pender and Richards. All serve a mean americano.

I don’t mind a grande long americano from Starbucks, but it’s by far not my favorite. Just a side note, it seems that you can only order it long in Vancouver. Whenever I’m in a US Starbucks, the baristas look at me weird, and repeat back, “Grande americano, right?” – “Right.”

But I still find myself back in a Starbucks most days. And there, standing in line I wondered what compels me to keep coming back when I know there is better coffee being served just around the corner. Then the warm, Latin music playing in the background started to sooth, while the yellow icing gracing a slice of the lemon raspberry loaf tempted me from behind the clear glass sitting at eye level where I just can’t ignore it’s wayward glances. And for a brief moment, I peak at the gift items on the shelves stacked to the right of me in arm’s way while I pick up a hint of java beans in the air. Then it’s my turn. The friendly Starbucks employee behind the counter says, “Grande long americano?” before I can even get the words out. “And a lemon raspberry loaf, please,” I quickly add. I come here way too much. As he takes my order, another employee retrieves my slice of delight from behind the glass and places it gently in a thin paper bag that feels almost like parchment wrapping paper. My gift for the day. My cup of java gets called, I pick it up and exchange pleasantries, then head to the station where I grab a shiny, stainless steel container labeled “half and half”. While I stir it in until I reach just the right shade of brown, I can’t help but notice all the lively conversations taking place at the small trendy tables and comfy couches nearby. I close the lid and head out. Now I feel ready to start my day. Why do I still go to Starbucks? Because the overall experience is sometimes worth it. The coffee isn’t better. Far from it. But it’s consistent – environment, taste, service time. And they’re everywhere which makes them the easy choice when heading out of town. I would like to think I would always choose the better product, but I guess I’m a sucker for a great experience.


Filed under advertising, Branding, Business, Coffee, Design, marketing, Packaging, Selling, Small Business Marketing, Starbucks

7 responses to “The Starbucks Experience Wins Over Coffee Every Time

  1. Amen.
    That’s why I keep going back.
    It’s the whole package they sell.
    And I keep on buying it!

  2. Ravi

    I like SBUX because when I had the 2 year-old in tow, I could always count on a changing table in the bathrooms. Mind you sometimes, I had to get the staff to check the women’s bathroom before we took it over and had the changing table and 3 stalls all to ourselves! That was only if the men’s bathroom did not have a changing table.

  3. Angie

    Mmmm…. lemon raspberry loaf… my favourite :) Still looking for a recipe somewhere…

    I agree with you about the whole experience… although I hardly ever get coffee – usually an iced venti black tea (they ALWAYS ask me if I want lemonade and I ALWAYS say no…). My usual drink when it’s not +30 out is the nonfat or soy chai… grande or venti depending on what I feel like. :)

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  6. Matt

    I’ll bite… what’s a “long americano” in Vancouver (and presumably elsewhere in Canada)?

    Longer roast time? Beans ground finer (from a longer grind?). Curious palates want to know! :)

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