Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Starbucks workers will pay more for health insurance


schultzinsuranceStarbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz says the coffee chain now pays almost as much for employee health care as it does for coffee beans, so the company long-known for its generous health benefits will begin passing more of those costs to employees.

The news from Starbucks comes amid skyrocketing U.S. health-care costs that are forcing American companies large and small to hike employee health-care contributions,  cut back on coverage, or eliminate it altogether.

U.S. health care spending consumes 16 percent of GDP, about $2.2 trillion a year,  and is projected to rise to 25 percent of GDP by 2025. But while the U.S. spends more than any other country on health care, its residents aren’t among the world’s healthiest. Some 46 million Americans are uninsured.

President Barack Obama says a broad health care overhaul is critical to a U.S. economic recovery. Congress is not expected to pass any reforms until after Labor Day. 

Starbucks to sell exclusive Rwanda coffee in UK


howardbeans1Starbucks will start selling a high-grade variety of fair trade-certified Rwandan coffee in Britain and Ireland next year as part of its effort to source more fair trade beans across East Africa. 

The world’s biggest coffee chain has pledged to have all coffee sold in its 700 British and Irish outlets fair trade-certified, which would make it the largest purchaser of such coffee in the world. 

The war over an instant


Via and NescafeThere’s a point in every Star Wars film when the good guy inevitably turns to his buddies and says, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” right before all the big explosions begin.

One can only imagine that is what Nescafe was thinking when they saw Starbucks’ VIA instant coffee mix arrive in Chicago, Seattle and London.  After all, Nescafe is nearly synonymous with instant coffee.

Starbucks strikes back


sbuxbewareStarbucks wants you to know that it is not the home of $4 coffee, and it’s launching a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to make sure you get the message that its brew is not an expensive luxury.

“Starbucks coffee does not cost $4,” Chief Executive Howard Schultz said this week when he announced the new ad blitz. The ad at left will run on Sunday in the New York Times.

Coffee talk with Starbucks CEO Schultz


We thought you might be interested in some comments from today’s chat with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. 
USA/Schultz told Reuters he hopes to bring out decaffeinated Via instant coffee this year.  What was his drink of choice as he visited with us in Chicago?  Colombian Via, which made its debut on Tuesday.

He admitted that “people might trade down on a size or come less often as a result of the economy.”  But he says Starbucks is a place where people also seek refuge and a break. 

Starbucks eyes breakfast bargains, dumps the jet


STARBUCKS/Once upon a time, Starbucks had nowhere to go but up.

My, how times have changed.

Chief Executive Howard Schultz in July said the upscale coffee chain would not combine menu items and sell them at a discount, a move made popular by fast-food chains like McDonald’s.

“We’re not going to go down the fast-food lane,” Schultz told investors back then — when the company’s business was hitting the skids in a housing-led slowdown.

Hey, get your own Joe!


Whether you cast your vote for Joe the Plumber’s candidate, John McCain, or for Barack Obama and his No. 2 Joe Biden, it’s worth a free cup of joe at U.S. Starbucks stores on election day.

You don’t even need to prove that you went to the polls to collect your free 12-ounce drip coffee. Starbucks just trusts you to be a good citizen.

Starbucks gets fi(RED) up in the Big Easy


Starbucks gathered its top managers this week in New Orleans for a morale-building leadership soiree and for its final act, its famous chief executive Howard Schultz yielded the stage to rock star Bono.

The U2 singer and philanthropist, who co-founded the (Red) project that develops co-branded products with companies like Apple and Gap, was on scene to help Starbucks announce its own (Red) product line launching on Nov. 27. A portion of the proceeds from Starbucks’ (Red) product sales will go to the Global Fund to invest in AIDS programs in Africa, a key coffee-growing region for Starbucks.

Starbucks hopes you’ll fall for its new autumn menu


hot-chocolate.jpgNeed a sweet treat after this week’s stock market stress?

A Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, one three new “Signature” hot chocolate drinks introduced by Starbucks, could fit the bill. A tall, 12-ounce drink with whip cream packs a whopping 460 calories (with nonfat milk) — think of it as a doughnut in a cup.

This week, Starbucks also introduced two hot Piadini sandwiches. One is veggie with portobello mushroom, spinach, feta, ricotta and egg. The carnivore version is made with mild cheddar, sausage and egg. 

Christmas is coming early this year, but not at Starbucks


starbucksholiday.JPG Christmas may be starting early for many retailers, but that isn’t the case at Starbucks.

While department stores like Macy’s are already in full holiday mode — hoping to get a jump on what is expected to be a dismal holiday season — the Seattle coffee shop chain is waiting until after Halloween and after Thanksgiving to serve up its holiday cheer.