“Just around the corner, there’s a rainbow in the sky” — Irving Berlin

August 21, 2009

coffeeI see by the papers that Starbucks is going to raise the prices on some of its drinks and lower prices on others — and see what happens. The short version is that sales have been declining. So frappucchinos and caramel macchiatos are going up — maybe 30 cents a pop — and lattes, cappuccinos and brewed coffees are going down.

I won’t be a part of this study. I’m atypical where coffee is concerned. I drink it every morning, and I order it after most dinners out, but I wouldn’t care I never had it again. And when I do drink it, it can be Chock Full o’ Nuts or Folgers, with no additives. And I don’t want to pay for coffee as if it were gasoline. I have been in a Starbucks three times, and one of those occasions was to avoid freezing to death on a Manhattan street. On the other two visits, I had hot chocolate, which was also overpriced — but it was chocolate.



I had a supervisor on one of my first jobs who instructed everyone in our section not to talk to her in the morning until she had had two cups of coffee. She was serious. I’m sure she believed it herself, but I couldn’t understand it because the caffeine in coffee doesn’t affect me. It doesn’t make me jumpy, it doesn’t calm my nerves, it doesn’t jolt me out of a stupor, it doesn’t give me indigestion, and it doesn’t keep me awake. Whether two cups a day does anything else to me, I don’t know. Coffee’s reputation as a deadly poison or a life-giving nectar seems to ebb and flow. Shelley Batts, a candidate for a doctorate in neuroscience, looked back a couple of years ago in her fascinating blog “Retrospectacle” at a recurring theory that coffee was a treatment for plague. You can read about that at the following link:  http://scienceblogs.com/retrospectacle/2007/08/science_vault_coffee_as_a_cure.php



I just read a book — “Rebirth of a Nation” by Jackson Lears — that paints an uncomplimentary picture of Theodore Roosevelt, to the extent that Roosevelt was one of the principal proponents, during the so-called “gilded age” — of American empire-building. Considering his appetite for action at any price, maybe Roosevelt was hopped up on coffee. He was, after all, the source of the Maxwell House coffee slogan: “Good to the last drop.” The first time I heard that, I dismissed it as a fable, but apparently there is some authority for it. You can read about that at this link: http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/life/Maxwell.htm

A news story about the Starbucks pricing strategy — which I guess was broken by Bloomberg — can be found here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2009/08/investors-know-that-businesses-cant-cost-cut-their-way-back-to-prosperity-and-rising-earnings-so-what-wall-street-most.html

Shelley Batts is co-authoring a new blog — “Of Two Minds” — which can be found at this link: http://scienceblogs.com/twominds/


One Response to ““Just around the corner, there’s a rainbow in the sky” — Irving Berlin”

  1. Shifty Says:

    As Great-Grandpa pointed out, the benefit of your boss’s two cups of morning coffee may have been metabolic rather than mental.

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