ANALYSIS: Starbucks’ midlife crisis [Greg Beato]

Last summer in Seattle, Starbucks opened 15th Avenue and Tea, an unbranded café featuring “small batch coffees sourced from individually owned farms” and a variety of fussy brewing methods designed to appeal to those connoisseurs who believe a cup of $4 coffee ought to be at least as complicated to make as a Big Mac. Live music is provided by a small-batch indie rock piano band sourced from a tiny town in Wisconsin. There’s an in-house “tea master,” and occasional outbreaks of poetry. Starbucks is 39 years old now, and like a lot of 39-year-olds, especially those who’ve experienced great success in their salad years but are beginning to wonder if they’ve lost their touch, it’s having a bit of an identity crisis.

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