More on Starbucks

I love coffee. I drink a lot of it. I’m kind of a snob about it. My wife got me about 10 pounds of coffee of several varieties and roasts for Christmas which will supply the espresso machine we got in September.

So I was interested to read that Starbucks is good for mom-and-pop coffee shops. I actually believe this to an extent, based on two data points. Point the first is the block I live on. There’s a Starbucks on the ground floor of new construction about 30 feet from my door. Across the street, there’s an independent place about 100 feet away. The independent place (under new management) has taken off since the opening of the Starbucks according to locals who have been here a while. The block has become a coffee haven. Point the second is an anecdote from Tom Monaghan’s autobiography, Pizza Tiger. Domino’s Pizza was getting sued by Domino Sugar for trademark infringement and started a second chain of pizza places called Pizza Dispatch in case they had to close all the Dominos. They found that when they opened a Pizza Dispatch near the Domino’s location, retail sales went up at the original location because the area became known for pizza. [Insert reader tirade on Monaghan here.]

Business for independently owned coffee shops has been nothing less than exceptional as of late. Here’s a statistic that might be surprising, given the omnipresence of the Starbucks empire: According to recent figures from the Specialty Coffee Association of America, 57 percent of the nation’s coffeehouses are still mom and pops. Just over the five-year period from 2000 to 2005—long after Starbucks supposedly obliterated indie cafes—the number of mom and pops grew 40 percent, from 9,800 to nearly 14,000 coffeehouses. (Starbucks, I might add, tripled in size over that same time period. Good times all around.)

The question is, when does Starbucks become bad for indie coffee? I suspect there comes a time when there are so many Big Coffee chains around driving up rents that indies can’t afford the leases in good retail areas. UPDATE: Lemme know, Murph.