Interesting to read that Starbucks is closing down the majority of its Australian outlets. The store cites low take-up by Aussies as the reason for pulling the pin. Beyond coffee snobbery, there are some pretty obvious reasons why most people saw this coming.

If you look at the demographics of Australia there are 235 ethnicities in the country. Given the size of the population it becomes apparent that Australia is a very varied and cosmopolitan country. It is used to tastes and habits of many cultures – the true Italian coffee experience is one of these. Most people agree that Starbucks delivers a homogenised (both literally and figuratively) and sanitised version of cafe society. That’s fine in a nation that doesn’t know much better (or where the majority doesn’t anyway) but in a country with an understanding of the nuances of varied cultures – a chain like Starbucks misses the most important of traits: authenticity.

If one looks at who does well in the coffee industry, it is generally the small chains, built and grown with passion – passion for coffee as a product and coffee as a symbol for a way of life. Starbucks is to that passion as McDonalds is to the slow food movement – anathema.

Meanwhile we in New Zealand still have Starbucks, I however will remain firmly planted in family owned and run C4 Coffee.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

6 Comments
  • But passion for coffee used to be the starbucks thing, they lost it [the passion and the authenticity] somewhere along the franchise path for profit

  • Peter Thomson |

    Ironically enough Starbucks could be authentic as well, but only by being true to who the really are (or who they’ve really become). Slick, fast, tech enabled, convienent and mass customised.

    As spotted by Nassumbaum on Bussines Week, check out: http://blog.pentagram.com/2008/07/james-biber-remakes-starbucks.php

  • Was at Ohau skifield over the weekend and really enjoyed my C4 coffee up there. Keep up the good work!

  • C4 huh – now there’s a coffee brand!!!

  • I’d much rather have my coffee made by someone who actually wants to make great coffee (am I biased working next door to C4 HQ? Maybe!) But I believe the same is true of most products/services – passion and dedication can be sensed be that tasted or felt or seen. I guess that’s what authenticity is about too – being true! Don’t do it if you don’t love it!

  • @Rachel – yes indeed – your C4 barista is actually passionate about coffee while (generalisation time) the Starbucks staffer just wants to go home

    And seeing 75% of it is perception……..

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