Friday, July 11, 2008

No More Large?

That is right, you saw the article in the Trib - Intelligentsia is doing away with 20 ounce drinks at the end of the month. Still, it was not the news that took me by surprise but the fact that the Trib devoted any space to it. It does impact the world inhabited by purveyors and consumers of fine and specialty coffees - i.e., my world and yours, but outside of that, it is just not news. Traditional newspapers usually report on 3 kinds of events - newsworthy, scandalous, and cute, and this was none of the above. Still, if you squint your eyes some, a reason does emerge.

The article about this announcement generated a whopping 201 comments. No need to read them - I can sum it up for you. Vitriol, buckets of it. Not towards the new policy, mind you, but towards Intelligentsia itself. Apparently, quite a few people are pissed off that it even exists. The same happens whenever the Trib runs a story about Starbucks. I get the impression that these days, the most hated group in America, after the atheists, are the producers and consumers of specialty coffee. Typically, the feral dogs descend within minutes of an article's appearance, and they do not stop until another outlet releases a fresh pile of fodder.

The Tribune Company is happy to print anything that keeps the clicks coming. Especially in the age of the newspaper's demise, they will take anything they can get. Incidentally, the newspapers' decline must also figure as the reason for all that hatred - I mean, who takes newspapers seriously any more? Whoever does, must feel left out of the new media landscape and will find anything newfangled unpalatable. The New York Times appears to be the sole exception, but the Gray Lady has built a fabulous website, where she has the comments feature conveniently turned off most of the time.

Moving right along, let us discuss this development as it pertains to us, Stella Espresso Company. For one, we will have to pay Intelligentsia more for their wares. You see, for them, this is a perfect move, like when Wayne Gretzky tosses the puck toward the crowded goal area and it goes in. The genius behind the move will only be apparent in an extremely slow replay. In this case, Intelligentsia is eliminating those pesky three-shot drinks, where a shot is wasted. The line speeds up, waste is reduced, and there you have it - more customers at a higher profit margin. This will allow them to ride out the oil bubble without looking like they raised prices. They will raise them, to be sure, but it will all be lost in the shuffle of switching menus.

We at Stella will feel tremendous pressure to follow Intelligentsia's lead. For one, it is tougher for us to ride out any bubble, seeing as we lack Intelligentsia's cachet and renown. Also, we will be buying beans at a higher rate. Of course, our situation differs from theirs, and we will have to deal with it our own way. A change in price structure is not out of the question, but we do know that large lattes and mochas are quite popular among our clientèle, so I do not see us cutting those out. Stay tuned.


andreaj1725 said...

Hmm...quite an ordeal I imagine.
I already love the fact that if I choose to order a large mocha (which I never do) I can opt to get it in a ceramic cup. Aside from that, I have no problem with getting rid of large...we're already a terribly caffeinated society, no?

Pavel Yusim said...

We certainly are a society that supersizes enough things alreday. said...

Although I agree that we supersize enough in this society, I don't think that is necessarily the issue at hand. I applaud the owners for recognizing that larges are popular within their clientele and their trying to accommodate the end-user best. After all, Stella has a great clientele—you can trust them!

espresso machines said...

I usually drink in a large cup and we are in a society that drink espresso coffee as an addict. Stella you got good experience in that.

Joanna Buchmeyer said...

Buy your beans from Grinderman Coffee! They home roast, buy the beans from a women's co-op and are my friends!

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