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The Anti-Starbucks

-Jamie Hershman

On almost every corner of every street in the bustling city of Seattle, Washington, you will most likely find a coffee shop. And among the many coffee shops that inhabit Seattle, one of the most ubiquitous is Starbucks.

Starbucks is one of the best-known coffee shops nationwide. As a large corporation, I don’t associate the company as being a homey, community-oriented coffee shop. But the Starbucks corporation begs to differ:

  • “From the beginning, Starbucks set out to be a different kind of company. One that not only celebrated coffee and the rich tradition, but that also brought a feeling of connection.”

I don’t know how much of the “connection” I feel, though. When I walk into my neighborhood Starbucks, the baristas don’t know my name or my order, and because there are so many locations, I know that I can get my usual drink in whatever town, city, or state I’m in.

However, Starbucks does want to go back to its roots of being that unique and cozy coffee shop that it first set out to be when it opened in Seattle in 1971. To accomplish this, they set out on their mission to open secret locations in Seattle, known as “un-Starbucks

In an attempt to shy away from the corporate monster that Starbucks has transformed into, these anti-Starbucks are brand-free in everything, from the classic paper coffee cup to the well-known sign that hangs above every location. While all the coffee beans are solely Starbucks, there is no indication that it is a Starbucks corporation creation.

There is an “un-Starbucks” on Capitol Hill in Seattle named “Roy Street Coffee and Tea,” which is their second location so far. To make this location more original, the store is decorated with furniture from vintage and antique stores throughout Seattle and offers alternative baked goods from Essential Baking. There is also a drop-down screen for showing films.

But, do all these factors truly make “Roy Street Coffee and Tea” original? The secret has been revealed and was even being investigated before this location opened. So many Seattle citizens know about these secret Starbucks shops, that it isn’t such a big secret anymore.

This project does not hide the Starbucks brand, it simply puts on a show for the customers’ sake. The Starbucks corporation wants to prove that it cares about its customers’ love for coffee more than the brand. Yet, if people know they are walking into a secret Starbucks location, then there is an obvious brand name association.

No doubt, it was a smart business move to regain title of comfortable coffee house, but it also just shows how willing they are to trick customers who are looking for a one-of-a-kind coffee experience.