Posted by: michelle @ books my kids read | June 8, 2009


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

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

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a fascinating inside look at Starbucks, the history of coffee, the Starbucks backlash and the homogenization of our culture.

Taylor Clark starts by telling the history of coffee in America and how the dream of Howard Shultz has changed the way Americans drink coffee, for better or worse. The company was started by a trio of coffee lovers in Seattle who were trying to emulate Peet’s coffee. They started by purchasing coffee beans from him and when they really started being successful, they learned to roast their own beans. But at that point, they were all about selling coffee beans, not about making coffee for the consumers. Then Howard Schultz came in with a dream of bringing the Italian coffee experience of espresso and lattes and a goal of massive expansion. We get to see how this company went from a handful of stores in the Pacific North West to seemingly taking over the world.

The second half of the book focuses on the backlash that Starbucks has faced over the years – some of it deserved and and some not. There are the claims that Starbucks aims to put out mom and pop stores, when actually, the very existence of Starbucks has helped some of those stores. Clark paints a good explanation of what fair-trade coffee is and what parts of coffee production truly is hurting the environment and communities in coffee growing nations. I found his look into how pervasive Starbucks is truly fascinating. There are very few places left in this world where you can’t find Starbucks.

I am definitely a Starbucks fan. While I have fond memories of sitting in the local cafes in Berkeley back before Starbucks took hold and many nights in high school at some local LA hangouts, I do enjoy going to Starbucks now with a book or some knitting (ok, pre-Munchkin). There is something amazing about the fact that the city I’m moving to does not have a Starbucks. There is one a few miles away, but I will be back to frequenting a mom and pop coffee house.


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