...But is the British economy saving Starbucks?


Earlier this week, British Business Secretary Peter Mandelson delivered an expletive-laden tirade about Starbucks CEO and Chairman Howard Schultz, who had given a dour assessment of the British economy. It was a bit strange.

But now I wonder if Schultz is regretting his comments for a reason that has nothing to do with Mandelson's ire. Starbucks has been rolling out a variety of new products recently, the most, um, original of which is a new brand of instant coffee called Via. For a company that once promised a caffeinated jihad of "hiring people who were fanatically passionate about coffee and celebrated their interaction with customers," the instant move seemed odd. Was Starbucks slumming it? But this article from the Economist shed some light on Schulz's plan:

Starbucks says it has patents that should prevent competitors from quickly replicating Via, which will go on sale in some American stores next month. The opportunity may, however, be biggest in other countries: in Britain over 80% of coffee sold is instant, compared with just 10% in America.

I had no idea. Schultz is presumably hoping that British consumers are "fanatically passionate" about consuming instant and not, as he put it last week,"very, very poor."

Jump to comments
Presented by

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. More

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism, an economics blog that was recently published in book form by Simon and Schuster. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. He is also on Twitter.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in Politics

Just In