Monday, June 2, 2008

Starbucks in Buenos Aires

I have a confession..I'm one of those people who loves to hate Starbucks. It's more passive in nature which takes the form of a try to avoid if possible attitude. For example, in Central Square, Cambridge near where I used to live, I would never think twice before ducking into the 1369 Coffee house as opposed to the Starbucks on the corner. I just liked 1369 better. They had good coffee and a killer carrot cake. However, I am not a hardcore anti-Starbuck-er. I would never go so far as to avoid getting a coffee just because Starbucks was my only choice.

Here in BA, it's been easy to avoid this hypocrisy because there were no Starbucks... until now. Argentina is the latest to roll out the welcome mat to Starbucks and judging from the pre-hype and the long lines at the opening, they will be here for a while. I haven't (and won't likely) make any special effort to visit Starbucks here, but I have to admit I'm curious.

A couple of things I've read are the long lines are mostly made up of the 25 and under crowd, and their basic cup of coffee is a competitively priced 5.50 pesos. Having been through the MBA case study gauntlet, I'd love to get a first hand look at how this global giant tries to fit into an ingrained local coffee culture- that doesn't include to-go cups.

Another reason is to see if it really is all that special. There have been sightings of new flavors like their Mate-Coffee...that alone maybe worth a look - I'm guessing the kinda look people do when they slow down and stare at car accidents.. But you never could be the next greatest coffee innovation!

One thing Starbucks has done right is contracting Sugar&Spice as a supplier. Sugar & Spice is a local cookie company and after meeting Frank, it's founder, a few weeks ago, I went and bought some of his cookies at the local Disco Supermarket. I tried the Cantucci. They were super. So obviously Starbucks already knows their way around local cookies. If they figure out the coffee culture, as well as they have the cookies, local coffee shops beware!

Do you think Starbucks will put the local coffee shops out of business?

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