September 3, 2007
There's a double shot of skepticism in this account of Starbucks' ascendancy as “a permanent fixture in the global landscape” written by Clark, a Portland-based journalist, who's been mulling over Starbucks ever since the coffeehouse chain opened three branches in his small Oregon hometown. His coverage begins with a Seattle trio who set out to emulate the high-quality coffee of the California-based Peet's chain, before Howard Schultz took over the company and laid plans for its massive expansion. While Clark grudgingly admires Starbucks' ability to repackage coffee as “beverage entertainment” for a “hyperprosperous society in search of emotional soothing,” there's a lot he doesn't like about the company. He's convinced that Starbucks “diminishes the world's diversity” by ruthlessly outmaneuvering local competition on a global scale, and dubs the baristas' work as “a textbook McJob.” Even the quality of the coffee, he says, has gone downhill. Though Clark loses some of his focus by trying to rope in so many arguments against Starbucks, overall, his dubious perspective on one of the modern world's most ubiquitous icons is just frothy enough to prove entertaining.