Starbucks, more than just a green logo

05.05

Last week a Starbucks in SoHo was reopened to the community, but now with more from the local ecosystem integrated into the store. After 15 years of service, the newly renovated location became one of a dozen pilot stores around the world to implement more sustainable practices into the construction of new locations.

The Spring and Crosby location is part of an experimental batch of 12 stores around the world, testing the feasibility of Starbucks’ recent initiative to have all new global locations LEED-certified by the end of the year. Each store is located in a different “bio-region” of the world–Kyoto, Japan; Lisbon, Portugal; Toronto, Canada; and Seattle among them–to test the varying shifts in energy use and locally sourced materials -PSFK

The store’s use of reclaimed wood, locally manufactured furniture, and recycled glass tiles are quite beautiful. The place feels more authentic than the cheap strip mall quality most locations posses. They also offer “for-here” mugs, an option they never should have removed from stores in the first place. Although, I was the only person I saw during my hour long visit who used one.

The new location is the first in NYC to boast a Clover machine for single cup coffee brewing. The quality is great (best cup I’ve ever had at a Starbucks), but there is a bit of a knowledge gap among the employees. I had to repeat my order 6 times between the two people I encountered, and it was still made iced before I could notice and correct them. It’s not like I was ordering off a secret menu either, it was a featured item on the menu board.

However, if Starbucks is to continue growing at the rate they have, it’s an extremely admirable goal to have all their future locations LEED certified. The quality of the materials truely add a rich new layer to the experience and the responsibility behind the decision illustrates why they continue to be an inspirational business leader, even if you don’t like their coffee.

posted by on 05.05.2010, under Design, Misc.

Beta Cup in full swing

04.28

Last December we wrote about the Beta Cup challenge (still trying to raise money at that point), but since then, Starbucks has stepped in and offered to sponsor the competition. According to Core77, the contests media sponsor, there have been over 152 entries to rethink the current system for coffee to-go. You can view and rate the entries so var on Jovoto. There are a lot of great ideas floating around and it will great to see how quickly the winning solution can be implemented. Good luck to all the participants.

posted by on 04.28.2010, under Design

Review – Colombia* Starbucks VIA

12.28

Colombia Starbucks VIA
Single Serving Micro Ground – $Free
Seattle, WA
www.starbucks.com

Bean: Micro ground to a powder as fine as Colombia’s other well known pick-me-up.

Aroma: After deciding to mix with hot water instead of snorting, I hovered, wafted and inhaled a somewhat surprising aroma. It was subtle and earthy, comforting like Grandpa’s sweater, but much more pleasant than the Folger’s he consumed. There was a hint of brightness that occasionally poked through the soft undertones of Mexican chocolate, like oranges married with a ripe hamper full of dirty clothes. I was convinced enough to give this blasphemous convenience a fair chance.

Taste: Sipping from a mug surviving the days when Starbucks actually used them, I was immediately impressed by the smooth, low acidic taste presented by this magical concoction. The shock of burnt grinds never came and the lack of flavor that most Kuerig cups embody was trumped by, well, flavor. The delicate tinge of chili powder seasoned every mouthful of this liquid trail mix, highlighting the rich presence of walnuts. If only it provided the same protein and essential fatty acids, I’d have myself a meal.

However, after my enjoyable stroll through the peanut gallery subsided, a pungent aftertaste took hold. Flashbacks of an older brother stuffing dirty socks in my mouth leapt to the forefront of  my conscious. I was forced to drink more just to mask the unsettling memory.

Overall, I am thunderstuck (cool word huh?) by the texture and taste of this instant coffee, one whose marketing budget may rival Avatar’s. I would prefer a cup of this over a fresh one of Pike Place any day, but that’s not saying much.

*I tried the Italian Roast as well, barely making it through half the cup. It tasted, as I imagine a musket full of gunpowder would; sharp, abrasive, and capable of fueling rockets during a Chinese New Year.

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posted by on 12.28.2009, under Coffee Reviews, Recommended Roasters