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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce and Culture

Author: Taylor Clark
Originally Published: 2007

Starbucked - Taylor ClarkIt was interesting to read this from the perspective of a person who does not live in a country where Starbucks is the predominant coffee chain. Here, people are either a huge Timmies fan, or a huge Starbucks fan, and it’s hard to find someone who enjoys the coffee from both. Me? I love Starbucks, and so this book has given me food for thought.

The book was divided into two parts – the first talking about the history of coffee and the company, and the second of the effects that Starbucks has on the world. It was interesting to read from a business and marketing perspective to see how Starbucks has become such a huge corporation.

The main ideas that the author seemed to be getting across was (a) that the quality of both the service and coffee at Starbucks has been on a downhill slide ever since it started as a mass-market coffee house machine, and (b) this has allowed for the opportunity for mom-and-pop coffee houses to succeed as never before. That said, however, it’s hard to tell how much the author was approaching the subject with complete objectivity – it went in spurts from feeling like the author extremely disliked the Starbucks corporation to feeling like he was telling you that although the corporation isn’t good, it isn’t as evil as people say it is.

The book talked a lot about how Starbucks has had an influence on the coffee industry in general, but it has also gone into a bit of detail as to how other coffee companies has influenced the world economy as well. This is one of the areas I am going to want to look more into at a later date, when I have the time to do some research on my own. Specifically, I want to look more into the difference between Coffea robusta and Coffea arabica – according to Clark, not only is robusta easier to cultivate, but it’s also the worse of the two tasting types of coffee. He also claims that robusta is the type that is used for instant coffee, and because the big companies buy only this for the instant coffee, before removing any of it’s natural flavour and adding all sorts of artificial flavours to actually make it taste good, it is part of the reason why coffee farmers in Brazil and other countries that harvest arabica (the tasty kind of coffee) are suffering. Again, it’s something I want to look more into. If this is the truth, then I’ll definitely start using my perculator with real coffee more and more often.

This was definitely a thought-provoking read and while it wasn’t as easy a read as other non-fiction books I’ve read recently, it was still thoroughly enjoyable.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 3:04 pm March 25, 2008.
Category: Non-Fiction
Book Author(s):
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  • Lisa

    This book sounds interesting

    All this time I thought you were a Timmies fan! That’s all I drank the last time I was in Canada. Could’ve swore you were the one to recommend them to me. ;)

    This book does sound interesting. Our local Starbucks (which technically isn’t local to me because it’s 40 minutes away) are currently being beat out by McDonalds of all places! They started serving fancier coffees and a lot of people I know that used to be daily Starbucks people are now daily McDonalds people! Personally I’ll stick to the mom & pop joints that not only have better coffee but homemade food. ;)

  • Lisa

    Don’t ask how I managed to get the same sentence in twice! LOL

  • Court

    Lisa – Haha. :) I won’t ask. And I WAS a huge Timmies fan – I think the first time I had a Starbucks was probably about 2-3 years ago, and was hooked from that point on. But before that, all I would drink was Timmies. (Still do have cravings for Double Doubles from time to time though.) ;)