Instant gratification

Those of you who don’t read the links in my daily links post may have missed my sneering references to Starbucks and its decision to start selling instant coffee. $1 a pop. In store. Coming soon.

This is a terrible mistake. Instant coffee – no matter how good the science behind it – is still dehydrated coffee being rehydrated. It’s got none of the elements of a good cup. Wikipedia has a breakdown of the process.

People in America can now get free samples via the Starbucks website. Yay for them.

I can’t understand why people drink instant coffee – other than that it’s instant if you’ve already got boiling water.

Here’s some startling US facts about instant from the Consumerist:

“The instant coffee market is bigger than you might think — accounting for 40% of the global coffee market. It’s less popular in the US than overseas, taking up only 9% of the US coffee market as opposed to 60% in Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United Kingdom.”

Starbucks is cutting stores and staff all over the world. And this is their solution. Budget, low quality coffee for those feeling the economic pinch. The launch has received coverage from the Times Online.

“Starbucks said last month that it would cut 6,700 of its 167,000 staff and shut about 1,000 under-performing outlets, as its after-tax profits for the three months to the end of December fell 69 per cent.”

Here are some more instant instant coffee facts… and a nice little quote about why this has “bad idea” written all over it.

“In the US, instant coffee is synonymous with cheap and tasteless. The global instant coffee market is worth $17.7 billion, just $700 million of which is sold in America. Instead, Americas drink brewed, or filter, coffee – 65 billion cups of it a year.”

“Starbucks, best known as the home of the $4 latte, is gambling its luxury brand by entering the instant coffee market. As John Quelch, a Harvard Business School professor, said: “Instant, soluble coffee has long been an unspeakable wasteland. Conventional wisdom would be that no premium brand should go near it.”

Update: From a second Times Online story.

“Starbucks reckons that 80 per cent of UK households have instant coffee, an £800 million market. Darcy Willson-Rymer, its UK manager, said that its new coffee would sit at the “premium, even super-premium” end … “We’re competing with instant coffee, but we’re comparing it to ground coffee.”


queenstuss says:

Instant coffee should be illegal.

Leah says:

But if a company ever, somehow, managed to make good instant coffee, they’d become filthy rich.

Leah says:

Oh and remember people like coffee for different reasons. My family only has instant coffee in the house. Dad is the only one who ever drinks coffee, and he rarely drinks it at home. Instant coffee is satisfactory for him. He’s not a huge coffee fan. And Andre can tolerate it (Moccona) when he visits.