Starbucks will go down in history books as the brand that made it OK to charge more than $2 for a cup of coffee. But its reputation as a higher-end coffee shop has faded – and that has the company worried.
The chain was founded with the mission of providing premium coffee to the masses, with CEO Howard Schultz modeling locations after Italian espresso bars. Starbucks sought to become the “third place” in your life – after your home and your office – where you would go to simply hang out and socialize.
And it arguably did just that. Since it opened its first shop in Seattle in 1971, Starbucks has become ubiquitous, with more than 24,000 stores around the world.
But that ubiquity has started to threaten its upscale reputation. Starbucks is now competing with chains like Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s. It has gotten, in a sense, too basic.