I identify with this topic on a lot of levels: One, I lived in Amsterdam for a spell during my design studies in college. It's one of the most beautiful and inspiring places to go if you're into groundbreaking architecture and trendsetting culture. Also, I'm a big fan of coffee, like, a big fan. But you know why I don't like Starbucks? Because I don't think their coffee tastes good. It's pretty simple, and I don't think I'm alone, but the chain has decided that Amsterdam is the place to launch their new concept store, a 4,500 square-foot loft-style space devoted to quality, class, and a decent cup of coffee for a change.
If you're not, you know, "into" coffee, chances are you haven't heard of the Clover brewing system. It's some fancy-shmancy machine that brews one cup at a time to supposed perfection. It's designed to really bring out the flavors and aromas of the coffee, and it does a pretty good job in the experience I've had with it. I mean, I find that water quality has more to do with clarity of flavor than an $11,000 coffee machine, but to each their own. I'm sure they've got the euros to throw around. Regardless, Europe's first Clover machine will find its home in this new monument du Starbucks in an historic building on Amsterdam's Rembrandtplein, in hopes of setting a new standard of excellence for the brand.
The coffee monolith has so far made great strides in establishing itself as a brand to be reckoned with. It goes without saying that if Starbucks' image needs a facelift, it won't be a lack of funding that stands in its way. However, it feels a bit overdone. For one thing, Amsterdam has a coffee shop in every building. I'm talking about every museum, gallery, train station, book store, shopping mall, you name it. And they're not "proudly brewing" any giant retailer's beans, either. They're just humbly making coffee and espresso drinks the way they have forever, in small batches for discerning customers. The coffee in Amsterdam is delicious — sadly I can't say the same for their cuisine — and I think perhaps Starbucks will have a bit more work to do in winning over the populace there.
But, on the other hand, Amsterdam is an international city, filled with tourists seeking out the familiar for comfort's sake. Rembrandtplein is a go-to tourist spot near the main food and shopping district, so it will likely have a market after all, even if it doesn't adhere to the standard of its surroundings. [via FastCompany]
What do you think of Starbucks breaking into the next echelon of the coffee market? Do you like the taste of Starbucks coffee?