Wrestling with Starbucks: Conscience, Capital, Cappuccino

By Kim Fellner | Go to book overview

9
The View from
Headquarters

Howard Schultz has a signature riff—“growing big while staying small,” shorthand for expanding Starbucks’ reach and brand while retaining a sense of intimacy. Easier said than done.

The tension burst into public view in February 2007, when www.starbucksgossip.com scooped a Valentine’s Day memo from Schultz to his top staffers. The memo vividly expressed his fears about “the watering down of the Starbucks experience, and, what some might call the commoditization of our brand…. Some people even call our stores sterile, cookie cutter, no longer reflecting the passion our partners feel about our coffee.”

Gasping, Wall Street and the media proceeded to parse every word. But in truth Schultz was only saying what most of his employees and many of his customers already knew: today’s Starbucks is more like a chain store than a neighborhood café. Witness the Starbucks that my husband Alec frequented near his work: the staff changed constantly, the macchiato was often dreadful, and no one acknowledged that they’d ever seen him before.

On levels from the personal to the institutional, Starbucks is trying to adapt its original values and culture while expanding at warp speed. As I talked with officers and staff, both old-timers and new hires, many were struggling with both sides of the Schultz equation. At headquarters there seemed to be an accelerated reshuffling of staff as the

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Wrestling with Starbucks: Conscience, Capital, Cappuccino
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction - The Global Economy Comes Home 1
  • 1 - The Empire Strikes Gold 15
  • 2 - Running the 10-K 27
  • 3 - Banking on the Bean 47
  • 4 - Go Sell It on the Mountain 69
  • 5 - Moving Up on Eighth Street 105
  • 6 - The Cross­dressing of Coffee-Counter Culture 123
  • 7 - When Worker Met Partner 140
  • 8 - At the Global Crossroads 163
  • 9 - The View from Headquarters 186
  • 10 - Capitalism Is like Fire … 203
  • 11 - Goodness as Battleground 220
  • 12 - Bread. Roses. Coffee 236
  • Acknowledgments 245
  • Notes 249
  • Index 267
  • About the Author 285
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