StarbuckedStarbucked by Taylor Clark
on 2007
Pages: 297
Buy on Amazon

STARBUCKED will be the first book to explore the incredible rise of the Starbucks Corporation and the caffeine-crazy culture that fueled its success.
In STARBUCKED, Taylor Clark provides an objective, meticulously reported look at the volatile issues like gentrification and fair trade that distress activists and coffee zealots alike. Through a cast of characters that includes coffee-wild hippies, business sharks, slackers, Hollywood trendsetters and more, STARBUCKED explores how America transformed into a nation of coffee gourmets in only a few years, how Starbucks manipulates psyches and social habits to snare loyal customers, and why many of the things we think we know about the coffee commodity chain are false.

How did a country where people were generally satisfied with instant coffee become a nation of people who order things like 185 degree, non-fat, no whip, double caramel venti macchiato with an extra shot of vanilla?

How did a specialty coffee roaster in Seattle transform into one of the most common shops on Earth?

Starbucked is the story of how a few people who really cared about decent coffee started to spread the word, became super successful, and then lost part of what made them successful in the push to be ubiquitous.

One of the things that Starbucks pushed early was the idea of “the third space.” It is a place that isn’t home or work where you go and spend time.  It is encouraging people to go hang out at a coffee shop.  I don’t understand that.  I hate being in a coffee shop.  Sometimes my husband wants to go and hang out and read.  I don’t get it.  Why go hang out in uncomfortable chairs around a lot of other people when you can just stay home and read?  I won’t go to a Starbucks unless there is a drive through (something executives fought hard against – almost as hard as they fought against Frappucinos).

This book was published in 2007 so some of the data may be out of date but it is still interesting to read the story of how Starbucks became successful.

  • Why do they put stores close together?  Quick answer – marketing, convenience, and shortening lines.
  • Does Starbucks coming into a town kill local coffee shops?  Quick answer – usually no.
  • Is the spread of Starbucks around the world the death of regional differences or just giving consumers what they want?

I also learned a lot about the history of coffee.  I know about the difference between arabica and robusta beans now and how that ties in with imperialism.  I understand terms like shade grown, free trade, and bird friendly.

If you are a Starbucks fan or if you aren’t, there is a lot of great information here about how coffee is grown and harvested, roasted and brewed, consumed and loved by millions.


8 Replies to “Starbucked”

  1. Like Deb in Hawaii, I found Starbucks to be a place where I could get away from the distractions at home, and get some actual work done in a short amount of time. I didn’t feel compelled to multi-task there like I did at home. At the time, probably mid-nineties-ish, it was cool to be there. I loved the music, and the ambiance. Then it started to feel too corporate and not special anymore. But what they did for coffee was pretty amazing, and set the stage for a lot of other companies, and the coffee lingo. Sounds like a great read!

  2. I enjoy starbucks but I’m not particularly loyal to the brand. I’d still enjoy learning more about the company though. The questions you began with are fascinating ones and I’d love to know the answers!

  3. I didn’t think a book like this existed, but I’m glad I found it! I think this is how I’ll get my nonfiction fix. The Backlist Books Challenge looks great, and I think I might go for it this year or next year. Great review~

    – Eli @ The Silver Words

  4. I worked for and then with Starbucks for a number of years and it’s always interesting to read about the company and see how the book mirrored true life. 😉 I think I have this book somewhere but never quite got around to reading it.

    I liked your comment on hanging out in coffee shops. I can’t relax or concentrate in a SBUX store (even after years away I still want to clean the condiment bar and evaluate the service hah!) but I spend a few hours a couple times a week in my local coffee shop working. I work from home and it’s a chance to change my perspective and connect a little. It’s also on the water which is nice too and there is no laundry begging to be washed or pesky cat wanting to go in and out of the backyard so sometimes it can help me focus on my work.

    Fun review! 😉

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