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August 24, 2006


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James the Barista

Have you forgotten the original Starbucks origins? Starbucks was just about beans, it got its start by mail order of beans. Just beans...no lattes and no cups...just beans. This is why we have Peets today, because Shultz bought out Starbucks and changed it. Not that I'm complaining, but this not the first time Starbucks has started a program to bring beans to the home without going to a store.


James -- Was there a "subscription" component to the early mail-orders, or was it a simple you-order-and-we-mail program?


can anyone point me to where i can sign up for the program or at least more info on the program?


Frank, the info is here...


James the Barista

You could say this is an upgrade from the past mail-order system and you are right I do not recall if there was a ""subscription component" to it, but really the idea has been floating around within Starbucks well beyond the mid 80's.


Starbucks is not about coffee beans. It's about milkshakes, McMuffins, and pushbutton espresso robots.

Their credibility on selling beans is just not what it was in the early days or even mid 90s. That ship has sailed.

James is right to point to Peet's and right about the history. Regional competitors like Peet's have moved into the bean niche and are harvesting the great profit margins you get on bean sales (no labor).

Starbucks will continue to do well, though, because people don't take the time to brew coffee at home every morning and like to take Starbucks breaks during the day.

But beans? Forget it.


At least in the 90s (which is the last time I actually looked at a Starbucks catalog) Starbucks had a program were you prepaid for "World Coffee Tours". You could get one or two pounds of coffee each shipment which, if I recall accurately, were about six weeks apart. There was a six month subscription and a twelve month subscription and possibly a three month subscription. It sounds to me that the only difference between the old model and the new is that internet technology has improved enough to make it feasible to allow the consumer to manage his or her own plan at his or her convenience.

but coffee is only supposed to be fresh for a week after being opened....how does this work as a monthly plan? Even if you don't grind it all at once you will still be having month old coffee once opened...


You don't have to get it once a month. You can get it once a week. OR you can get a whole bunch once a month (or more) and open the bags as you go. Just because it arrives in your mail, doesn't mean you have to open it the same day.


Starbucks is about beans in a big way. All you have to do is look in the grocery stores and drugs stores and Walmart and Target. They bring better than average coffee to the retail world. Maybe it's not like buying from a roasterie, but not everyone has one in their town. And on the dilema of keeping the coffee fresh after opening it - who doesn't drink a pound in a month?


No, Starbucks is Market Orange Spice tea, the favourite
tea of Seattle Pike Place market and surrounds for
decades before Schultz came and ruined it.
They were only in the Market until they opened
the dead University Place Mall outlet which tried
to sell more coffee than tea.

See also http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/5281046.stm
Tea being good for you says Eur.J.Clin.Nutr.

barista c

is this really through starbucks? it looks like a third party sort of thing. it is through "starbucks at home," not starbucks.com.


Barista C,

Hopping in b/c I was literally just looking at the site, and found this that may help:


Not impersonating the webmaster. :)


The history of Starbucks mail order is more complex than you realize. My wife was in the department for 8 years. The official department was started with 2 employees in 1988 (along with the first catalog), but prior to that, customers would call the store and ask to have coffee mailed to them. The customer info was kept on 3x5 cards at the roasting plant (the card box is now a relic waiting for a Starbucks historical display).

The first computers didn't come online until 1990. In 2000, the last catalog went out and mail order basically stopped because of the proliferation of stores and the advent of the "stored value card" (or gift card), which are much cheaper to mail.



Market Spice Tea has no connection to Starbucks or (as far as public records go) Howard Schultz.
Their info is:

Market Spice
85A Pike St
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 622-6340

No, Starbucks is Market Orange Spice tea, the favourite
tea of Seattle Pike Place market and surrounds for
decades before Schultz came and ruined it.
They were only in the Market until they opened
the dead University Place Mall outlet which tried
to sell more coffee than tea.

I know this is a bit off subject, but, what is the starbucks liqeuer made of, is it essentially starbucks coffee with vodka and cream? or.....

I always fucking LOVE it when some dumbass comes in at 830am, can't grab beans off the shelf, gets to the front of the line, at the register declares "I wand HALF a pound of Italian roast ground for turkish (wtf?), and then stands there and smirks as thirty five people behind him wince in pain. Fuck those assholes. Buy a pound, manage to take four seconds to find it on the shelf, and I'll grind it for you, asshole.


This has been an on going thing with sbux for years. Not really news worthy, and frankly I'm a little dissapointed that you didn't mention that this has been something that sbux has been doing for YEARS. I started in 1995 and there was already an on going program. I then worked in Warrenty Services for a couple years (most likely for the wife of the person above who stated that his wife had started the program...I shudder to think that she still might be there tormenting people) and we delt with people all the time calling for the starbucks at home program. If you are going to run a blog about this company, at least get your facts straight and talk to people who actually know something about the company. And geesh, I don't even work for them anymore!


I looked at it, as I wouldn't mind getting to skip going in there weekly and ordering my turkish :) grind of french roast. But, from what I can tell, you can't tell them what grind you want (I loathe grinding at home - plus my grinder broke).



I never said my wife started the mail order group, only that she worked in it for 8 years. Further, she never worked in Warrenty Services (which grew out of the mail order group, for those who don't know).

As for the subscription service, it began shortly after the mail order department started. It's humble beginings included a 31 pocket accordian file (probably 1 for each month, though I can't confirm that right now), with orders placed for each day. On August 27th (for example), the folks at the roasting plant would pull the day's file and ship out that day's mail orders. A person could have a standing order for daily up to yearly. In 1990, the whole thing went to computers.

So there you have it: Subscription isn't new, it's just being reintroduced for the internet generation.


Stacy -- It's time for you to switch to decaf.

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