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Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks Paperback – February 9, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (February 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520269926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520269927
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After five years of on-site investigation, including Starbucks locations across the country and around the world, author and history professor Simon (Boardwalk Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America) has produced a less-than-earth-shaking examination of the coffee chain's influence on America (and its American influence abroad). Simon's hodgepodge of observations are heavy on the obvious ("Lots of people, I learned from my many hours of observation, used Starbucks as a second place, as a work space and meeting room"), and light on revealing details or investigation ("After making its five-cent donation to the world's water-deprived" per bottle of their Ethos water, "the company still gets an extra twenty to fifty cents... of profit"). Those who frequent Starbucks will enjoy Simon's range of topics, from business matters to the music played to the (very American) concept of "self-gifting." Though Simon's knowledge of the brand is obvious, his insight is sparse and his in-person observations lack color (though Starbucks deserves some of the blame for that).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Those who frequent Starbucks will enjoy Simon’s range of topics, from business matters to the music played to the (very American) concept of ‘self-gifting.’”
(Publishers Weekly 2009-12-07)

"Simon's book is a fascinating, sometimes dispiriting look at how Starbucks is emblematic of some deeper socioeconomic phenomena at work in this country over the past decade and a half."
(Mike Miliard Boston Phoenix 2009-12-09)

“A thoughtful, in-depth study.”
(World Wide Work 2010-04-25)

More About the Author


Bryant Simon is professor of history and the Director of American Studies at Temple University. He is the author of Boardwalk of Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America. His most recent book, Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks, looks at what our latte choices tell us about our daily desires and dreams. This research took him to more than 450 Starbucks in 10 countries.

He blogs at www.everythingbutthecoffee.net

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By M. P. Procter Sr. VINE VOICE on December 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Bryant Simon, the author of "Boardwalk of Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America," has written another compelling book about a once beloved, now declining, American institution in "Everything But the Coffee: Learning About America from Starbucks." From its inception in the early 1970s to today, Simon traces the rise and fall of Starbucks, not only as a company and business venture, but also as a piece of Americana.

Simon, a Professor of History at Temple University, defines what he calls "the Starbucks moment," where in a short period of time, Starbucks exploded and was literally everywhere. However, as he points out, as quickly as Starbucks arrived and became the talk of the business community and Wall Street, the company began to fade and lose its luster. He describes how Starbucks sought people of status and wealth to tout its name and logo and then how it used those high end customers to draw in the middle class. It was the middle class customers buying high priced coffees and lattes that allowed Starbucks its meteoric rise and swollen stock price.

Starbucks, says Simon, convinced a whole group of people that they could abdicate their responsibilities for environmentalism, human rights, poor peasant farmers, and an array of other causes to a large corporation simply by paying more for its products. Yet despite the company's advertising - or is it propaganda? - Simon shows that very little of what Starbucks claims is reality. One example he sites is the environmental issue of recycling. Clearly, using ceramic cups that can be washed is more environmentally sound than using paper cups that go into a landfill.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E.King on November 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Whether you're a Starbucks junkie or a Starbucks hater, this book lends an excellent insight into one of the world's largest and fastest growing companies. The author discusses everything from Starbucks' ethics, consumption, to sociological role of the company in simple "plain English" that everyone can learn from. An excellent read for anyone interested in the state of modern corporations, environmental sustainability, and how you can help change how things are run.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Hallie on June 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
Reading this book is akin to drinking a strong, rich espresso in a literary sea of cloying frappuccinos. It's a book for anyone wanting to decipher the hipsters wearing those obnoxious Chuck Sneakers drinking the $2 Pabst beer, the Whole Foods shopper carrying the reusable shopping bag, and of course, the Starbucks drinker who ordered the iced single venti toffeenut soy latte (no foam).

If I was a marketing, sociology, history, business or economics professor, I'd mandate my students to read this book. Instead, I'm a 20-something enjoying every paragraph to the last drop. The way it weaves all of these disciplines into such a poignant narrative of Starbucks is impressive. The dizzying breadth and more importantly, depth of knowledge contained herein would have me believe that this book took the work of several authors. I'm going to copy and paste a paragraph to exemplify what I mean:

"To display smarts, superior tastes, and even enlightened politics, the upper classes of the 1990s focused their buying on things that looked natural and rare but also required special knowledge to fully understand. This buying was not just about changing aesthetics, as David Brooks suggested in his bobo study, or about the intrinsic value of design, as Virginia Postrel argued in The Substance of Style. It tied the upper middle classes back to Veblen. Buying in post-Reagan America was not about keeping up with the Joneses; it was about separating yourself from the Joneses, the conformists in the middle."

If quality writing like this doesn't engage you, I have a different book on Starbucks to recommend. It's called "How Starbucks Saved My Life." Probably more your speed.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carrie Hillerby on February 10, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to like this book, I really did. But I felt that it was just one big, long bash of Starbucks. Over and over again, the author made his point. Too bad, as I had really hoped that at some point it would move beyond the bashing and brought something positive to the text.
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