Starbucks recaffeinates with plans for expansion

Consumer Reports News: August 10, 2011 05:02 PM

Finally, a positive economic indicator during a week of gloom and doom. Cheer up, Starbucks is opening more stores. Once again feeling expansive after shuttering locations during the recession, Starbucks has just opened its third store in Harvard Square, reports MSNBC. And the coffee giant isn’t just targeting college kids—it plans to open 100 more stores in the U.S. and 500 in the world by the end of its fiscal year in October. Talk about caffeinated.

Back in the good old days, before 2008, Starbucks was often the first retailer to stake out an up-and-coming neighborhood and operated on the “if we build it they will come” theory. But once the housing bust hit, some of those neighborhoods were down-and-out and so were the Starbucks outposts, says MSNBC.

But Starbucks did continue to make its move onto grocery shelves and even removed the word “coffee” from its logo so that it could expand into other offerings like ice cream. And like other supermarket brands, Starbucks was forced to raise its prices after a rise in coffee futures.

In Consumer Reports latest coffee tests, Starbucks Colombia Medium tied for fifth with Walmart’s Great Value 100 percent Colombian. In our ratings of coffee blends, Starbucks House Blend took the top spot. Our tasters judged both Starbucks Kenya and Starbucks Sumatra to be good and said Starbucks Via instant was similar in quality to the company's brewed coffee, though more subdued.

Subdued is something Starbucks is not. In fact, says MSNBC, its earnings were up by more than 30 percent in the most recent quarter. Now that’s a picker-upper.

Mary H.J. Farrell

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