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Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture Hardcover – November 5, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

There's a double shot of skepticism in this account of Starbucks' ascendancy as a permanent fixture in the global landscape written by Clark, a Portland-based journalist, who's been mulling over Starbucks ever since the coffeehouse chain opened three branches in his small Oregon hometown. His coverage begins with a Seattle trio who set out to emulate the high-quality coffee of the California-based Peet's chain, before Howard Schultz took over the company and laid plans for its massive expansion. While Clark grudgingly admires Starbucks' ability to repackage coffee as beverage entertainment for a hyperprosperous society in search of emotional soothing, there's a lot he doesn't like about the company. He's convinced that Starbucks diminishes the world's diversity by ruthlessly outmaneuvering local competition on a global scale, and dubs the baristas' work as a textbook McJob. Even the quality of the coffee, he says, has gone downhill. Though Clark loses some of his focus by trying to rope in so many arguments against Starbucks, overall, his dubious perspective on one of the modern world's most ubiquitous icons is just frothy enough to prove entertaining. (Nov. 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


'I lift a cup - of something stronger than Frappucino - to you Taylor Clark' P.J. O Rourke, New York Times 'Engaging...witty...fascinating' Sunday Telegraph 'Clark injects his story with plenty of zip and humour' Sunday Times absorbing Daily Mail entertaining Sunday Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (November 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031601348X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316013482
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,700,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Andy Orrock VINE VOICE on January 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Starbucked" is a tremendous piece of journalism. It strikes just the right balance - serious but with a sharp sense of humor (it had me laughing outright in many places because Taylor Clark is wickedly funny), and neither pro- nor anti-Starbucks. Given Clark's street cred with alt-weekly Willamette Week, some might expect something bordering on a screed. But, as other writers point out here, it is a balanced, nuanced and simply finely researched piece of work. Most notably, Clark scores an interview with Howard Schultz. I think even Schultz (though he occasionally suffers, as co-workers note, from believing his own PR) would, however begrudgingly, admit that his company gets more than a fair shake from the author.

For example, Clark puts to rest the fallacy that - like Wal-Mart - Starbucks puts Mom and Pop stores out of business. [Actually, sales in those stores rise when Starbucks drops anchor near-by.] He also notes of Schultz's genuineness on the issues of health insurance and stock options, noting that Schultz offered these to even part-time workers "as a matter of principle...[He] has always taken his employers' welfare seriously." Nothing in Clark's research refutes that statement. It's stated and accepted here as a fact. He also clarifies that Starbucks bears little responsibility for the drop in coffee bean prices, noting that the "Big Four" (Nestle, P&G, Philip Morris, Massimo Zanetti - owner of the Hills Bros. and MJB brands) "provide 60% of America's coffee supply" and roil the market by cutting their product with the low-quality, highly available robusta plant (incrementally substituting it for the Arabica that Starbucks and others use).
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on November 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Reviewed by Muhammed Hassanali

Starbucked is divided into two parts. The first part describes the rise of Starbucks. Clark briefly summarizes coffee drinking practices outside the United States and moves to Prescott's work on coffee at MIT in the 1920s. From there Clark outlines the changes in American coffee consumption. The main focus of the first part is rightly on Starbucks - especially after Howard Schultz took over the company, making it into the coffee juggernaut it has become.

The second part focuses on the criticisms that are levied against Starbucks. Clark divides these into five main categories, which he lists as [pg. 145]:

* Killing the character of neighborhoods and employing predatory tactics to take out locally owned coffeehouses.

* Causing the suffering of millions of Third World coffee farmers by paying unfair prices for beans.

* Peddling a product that is harmful to our health (and our delicate palates).

* Exploiting its employees and crushing their attempts to unionize.

* Homogenizing the planet and destroying cultural diversity by saturating the world with its stores.

It is in this section that one would find the most contentious parts of the book. While Clark does address all of the categories above, and draws upon all the major criticisms leveled against Starbucks, to some readers he may come across as being pro-Starbucks. Other readers would contend that Clark is merely mapping the fault lines of the debate. Whatever the reader's stand, most would agree that Clark has outlined both sides of the debate. It was instructive for me to read the epilogue, titled "The Last Drop.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dane Roberts on November 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
People that have a 'passion' for starbucks or the for coffeehouses in general and want to learn more about coffee's history will enjoy this heady brew of coffee lore. The format of the book works for me. The first half explores the rise of the mermaid and how starbucks capitalized on this undervalued and much abused bean and the consuming public. The second half explores the ethical issues and the criticism that success often engenders. I enjoyed learning about starbuck's retail design that enabled it to grow and expand so quickly. Also, it's cut throat competition in it's real estate department is clearly one of the secrets to it's success. The book also addresses the critics. The chapter on Fair Trade coffee was enlightening and somewhat disappointing from a consumers point of view that want to 'do good' for the farmers. The impact of more starbucks in your town and how that may be negatively impacting the local mom & pop coffee shops was also an education. My town also looked to ban any new coffeeshops after a 2nd store opened in the same downtown street. I signed a petition in my local coffeeshop, so as not to lose my favorite table and personal service. I'm happy to report the coffeehouses are alive and well including both starbucks.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robert R. Mendenhall on November 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Clark's research, reporting, and writing are superb. You'll learn a number of things about Starbucks, coffees from around the world, and coffee drinks of all ilks that you never knew before. If you're looking for a book bashing Starbucks this is NOT it. It is, however, one of the most fair and balanced books I've read on any subject on which there is at least some disagreement. Clark will have you thinking critically about both sides of many issues, including the company's treatment of employees, coffee and your health, even cultural imperialism. This is a VERY interesting read.
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