Vice Squad
Friday, January 11, 2008
Could Use Some Caffeine

It's late, but I wanted to post to keep up the Vice Squad streak of having precisely one post for every day of 2008 -- a streak that is the envy of the blogosphere, I understand. And so we turn to coffee. Starbucks is having a shake-up at the top, and feeling pressure from McDonald's: "McDonald's, whose U.S. coffee sales increased 39 percent during the first nine months of 2007, plans to add espresso counters at as many as 14,000 locations." (Here's another look at Starbucks v. McDonald's from Newsweek. Incidentally, Caribou Coffee also is undergoing a shake-up.) Starbucks will cut back on its plans to open new stores -- is that good news or bad news for independent coffee shops? It looks as if a Starbucks in the neighborhood might stoke the demand for premium coffee in ways that redound to the benefit of independents. Will the new competition from the UK similarly spur the coffee output of leading producers Vietnam and Brazil?

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