Marketing Genius from Maple Creative


Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Baked Goods at Starbucks

I am a huge fan of Starbucks. Love their coffee. Love, love, love it! At my house, we buy Starbucks beans in the 1/2 pound bags at the grocery store (our Kroger). We grind beans every morning for a fresh pot of Starbucks. From Gold Coast Blend to Sumatra and Selena Organic, the list of favorites continues to grow.

Did you know that Starbucks will not serve a shot of espresso that has been around for longer than one minute? It's true. If a serving of espresso has been brewed but has sat unused for longer than one minute, Starbucks tosses it out. Gonzo. That's their policy. That's their insane level of commitment to quality and freshness.

Starbucks is obsessive about the quality of its coffee from the appearance and freshness of its beans to the coffee that it serves in its retail locations. Their commitment to quality is part of what makes the coffee so consistently excellent ... and as a marketing professional, part of what endears me to the brand.

When it comes to the food that Starbucks serves with its beverages, however, I am not so impressed. Sad to say ... but true. Oh sure, the baked goods look tempting perched there in the fancy, glass and chrome display case. Cookies, scones and slices of pound cake. All are wonderful selections to complement a nice steaming cup of Starbucks coffee. Or at least they should be.

I am consistently disappointed with the baked goods Starbucks serves. The cookies aren't quite crisp ... too spongy. Same thing with the scones. Nothing is worse than a scone that is too moist and too gooey. A scone should be dry and crumbly and should leave no oily residue on the fingers. A fresh cookie should give a crisp crunch upon biting into it. The Starbucks pastry case items are never up to the "A" level of quality, not on par with the coffee.

If Starbucks can be so obsessively excellent with the quality of its coffee, why can't they get the baked goods right?

Is anybody with me? Have you noticed this, too? C'mon dear readers, please back me up, here.


Blogger Jen said...

I have to agree. The only "bakery item" that I was satisfied with (not amazed, but satisfied) was the reduced fat coffee cake. It was pretty good...although washing it down with a SF Skinny Caramel Macciato does help!

I have found some other coffee shops around that blow Starbucks out of the water...well, out of the bakery anyways. If you are in Teays Valley, try Rendevous near Bob Evans and Applebees (It's in the same shopping center as the new Chinese Buffet). Rendevous doesn't have quick service, but it is good service and great food. The sandwiches, pasta salad, coffee, and the treats are all good.

All and all, Starbucks needs to revamp their baked goods or get someone in the kitchen that knows what they are doing. (Sad thing is, those cakes and cookies are probably frozen...and they thaw the cakes and just proof and bake the cookies. Sad, but most likely, true.)

9:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never understood the whole Starbucks thing myself.

Any decent coffee shop anywhere in the world wouldnt let espresso sit for a minute because you only should make coffee and grind beans as required. Italian, French, etc etc coffee shops have been adhering to this basic rule for years.

I have watched Starbucks coffee makers (they are NOT baristas) boil milk even with the daft thermometer in... I have seen them then put this boiled milk aside and re-boil later... my list could go on. My point is, Starbucks is like any franchise, its people are robots and the way its makes its products/conducts its service is robot-like. Textbook, manuals robots. Anywhere in the world you can be guaranteed Starbucks will - like McDonalds - taste the same. Some say this is great, I say it aint. Purple Cows arent franchisable.

11:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work at a starbucks in the Washington DC area, and just so you know- the maximum time for a shot of espresso is 10 seconds, not one minute. Now granted, sometimes it will be more than that, but not very often. The store policy is that if milk does not touch the shot within 10 seconds of being prepared, it "dies" and should be redone. Just thought I would add that

5:27 PM

Blogger Amonda said...

I own a small bakery and I would love to sell my fresh baked goods to Starbucks. All of our baked goods are handmade and homemade from stratch. We also make everything in small batches we never mass produce anything.If anyone knows how I can start marketing fresh homemade baked goods to Starbucks just let me know.

10:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Starbucks cake is horrible.I love cake and cookies but I am never tempted to indulge of their baked products.

8:43 AM

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6:25 PM

Anonymous Douglas said...

I also own a small bakery and woudl love to know how to sell gluten free vegan free desert products to Starbucks. Anyone have any contacts?

8:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Starbucks gets all of their baked goods from local bakeries, as an FYI, so the quality unfortunately changes from store to store, depending on which bakery services them.

And I don't agree on cookies -- I hate crisp cookies. I prefer chewy ones! Everything comes down to taste and texture preference and not everyone is the same.

I love the Seattle area Starbucks scones, personally.

1:25 PM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

Everyone's opinions are welcome here at Marketing Genius blog. You may not realize that this post was written 5 years ago. Some of Starbucks' practices may have changed since then. I would say that I've noticed an improvement in the quality of the baked goods at Starbucks.


1:38 PM


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