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Marketplace Scratch Pad

An instant success or total failure?

Scott Jagow Sep 30, 2009

Perhaps Starbucks is thinking the launch this week of Via Ready Brew is just another innovation from a progressive company. But what if a seemingly harmless cup of instant coffee takes down the whole company?

I’m wading deep into exaggeration here, but I started thinking about this after reading comments from food and restaurant consultant Clark Wolf in the Houston Chronicle:

“If instant is as good as handmade, then all of Starbucks isn’t true; then you didn’t need that barista to begin with…

Starbucks “will either change the world’s notion of instant coffee or they will blow their cover once and for all,” he said.

“They’ll be movers in the food culture or just another processed-food pimp.”

So far, the reviews of Via are pretty shaky, although that’s from a small sample. Starbucks must really think Via is the bomb if wants people to try it next to its regular coffee. Either that, or it’s a really dumb move.

On today’s Marketplace Morning Report, host Bill Radke interviewed Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. You can listen to it below. Just add water.

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