Starbucks plans to start selling better coffee

Starbucks reserve industrialREUTERS/Jason RedmondA view of the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room during its preview in conjunction with the company’s biennial investor meeting in Seattle, Washington December 4, 2014.

Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz has become obsessed with selling better coffee.

The brand has plans to sell coffee from its premium roastery in more than 1,000 stores, Schultz told investors on a recent conference call.

Starbucks recently opened a 15,000 square Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle.

Schultz calls the luxury roastery “the Willy Wonka of coffee.”

Customers can sign up for a monthly subscription to receive the small-batch coffee straight from the roastery.

The beans, which are delivered three to five days after roasting, are fresher than those purchased in regular stores.

Each month, subscribers will receive one 8.8-ounce bag of beans. A one-month subscription (one bag) costs $US24 and a 12-month subscription (12 bags) costs $US288.

By comparison, an 8.8-ounce bag of Starbucks’ premium Reserve blend ranges from $US12.95 to $US17.95. A one-pound bag of Starbucks’ Pike Place blend costs $US11.95.

“Starbucks Reserve Roastery subscriptions are — aside from visiting the Roastery and having our partners scoop the coffee right in front of you — the freshest, fastest and most innovative whole bean coffee experience in the marketplace,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a release. build the Starbucks reserve brand.

While Starbucks used to appeal to premium consumers, it is now closely associated with the masses. Primary competitors include Dunkin’ Doughnuts and McDonald’s.

Starbucks beverages, especially pumpkin-spice lattes, are associated with the term “basic bitch,” which is frequently “used to pejoratively describe people who like popular, mainstream products or music,” according to Wikipedia.

Today’s hip, upscale, urban consumers are eschewing Starbucks in favour of other options like Blue Bottle coffee, which just raised $US25 million for expansion.

Starbucks reserve baristaREUTERS/Jason RedmondStarbucks baristas prepare drinks during a preview of its new Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle, Washington December 4, 2014.

Widespread popularity is the “kiss of death for trendy … brands, particularly those positioned in the up-market younger consumer sectors,” industry expert Robin Lewis writes on his blog.

Faced with a basic image, Starbucks is desperately trying to retain its premium status. It acquired the trendy La Boulange baking company, in 2012, to revamp its food offerings. But when many customers complained the food was too “fancy,” the company recanted and started offering products from the old menu, like lemon cake.

In addition to the new pastries, Starbucks added trendy items like coconut milk and cold-brew iced coffee to its menu.

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