Retailers, consumers and prices
Weighing in on Starbucks’ new brew
“Not as bitter!” “What’s with the flayed mermaid”? “Smooth …” “What? Free coffee?”
Just a few of the comments overheard this morning in the busy newsroom — journalists are a highly caffeinated bunch, after all — about Starbucks Corp’s new coffee brew called Pike Place Roast, launched today.
Folks, including this reporter, lined up outside Starbucks coffee houses across the country today as barristas passed out free 8-oz (227 gram) samples of the coffee that the global coffee chain hopes will stave off competitors such as McDonalds Corp in the economic downturn.
“The reality is, they have enough brand equity with their consumers they can afford to experiment,” said Matthew Kaufler, a fund manager with Clover Capital. Kaufler, a Starbucks drinker whose professional portfolio does not include the coffee chain, had yet to try the new blend, but said Starbucks stock, given its 40 percent fall since a year ago, ”is starting to look enticing.”
The new blend, which sells for $9.95 per pound (454 grams) has a smoother flavor and finish, the company says. That appeared to be the general assessment in this newsroom, although some drinkers questioned Starbucks’ new label on the cup. The brown band — formerly green — now features a mermaid whose tail is splayed in two like a butterflied chicken.
“It’s actually a siren,” said a Starbucks spokeswoman. “A siren is a two-tailed mermaid.”
The two-tailed mermaid harkens back to the company’s roots at the fishermen’s haven of Seattle’s Pike Place Market, the spokeswoman said. The new logo, which looks like the company’s original label, will be seen on cups for a few months, after which the green and white cups — on which a much smaller siren is visible — will reappear.
But, back to the taste.
Thumbs up or down? Bitter or smooth? Is the mermaid — siren, sorry — distracting or enticing?
Please share your thoughts, caffeinated readers, and tell us what you think of Starbucks’ new brew.