Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is Starbucks really a charity? Or a measure of our laziness?

Here's something I wondered about after visiting a few Starbucks in New York City: when you drop in for a cup of coffee, you are paying 2-3$ for something that only has about 10 cents worth of materials in it, and something that you could create yourself in less time than it actually takes you to go to the store. Most people seem not to use Starbucks stores for socializing, and indeed most stores don't even have enough space provided. So you are getting something that is intrinsically worth 10 cents, not saving any time, and not paying for space to socialize.

It seems to me then that you can view Starbucks Coffee from one of two angles:
  1. Starbucks is really a glorified charity where people go to deposit their 3$ every day so that someone out there could have a medical insurance and a minimal wage. Cup of coffee in this context is like a t-shirt you get at local fund-raising event for donating. Or...
  2. The actual value people get out of Starbucks is the excuse to get away from work for 10 minutes. Then the average cost of the cup of coffee is the price people are willing to pay for a break.

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