The Day That Starbucks Spilled Their Coffee

26 01 2008

I’m not a big coffee drinker.  I can tell you a bad cup of coffee when I have one, but beyond that, I have no clue what makes some people think one coffee is better than another.  I have never stepped foot into a Starbucks, but it’s just because I’ve never had a desire to go somewhere just for coffee.  So there is my disclaimer.

The news this week has it that McDonalds has made Starbucks flinch.  The word is that Starbucks is test marketing a one dollar cup of coffee to compete with McDonald’s attempt to enter into the high end coffee business.  My son-in-law works at Starbucks as he makes his way through his post-graduate work.  He bristles at any suggestion that McDonalds could come close to competing with Starbucks. 

Not long ago I was in the tiny storefront of a major donut chain.  Not a big fan of their donuts, but they were convenient at the moment.  This is a chain that has also taken on Starbucks by playing up their coffee.  Fresh brewed coffee, they call it.  Let me tell you what their fresh brewed coffee is.  I couldn’t resist laughing when I noticed the boxes of pre-packaged, pre-prepared coffee that said “fresh brewed” on the side.  In other words, they were merely reheating coffee that had been brewed elsewhere.  I guess they consider it fresh brewed so long as that is what they print on the side of their package.  Hmmmmm.

While I readily admit that I don’t understand this high end coffee phenomenon itself, I do understand some of the principles at work.  And these principles lead me to believe that McDonalds will never truly compete for Starbuck’s core constituency.  There is a sense of community that encompasses the Starbucks story.  Plus, there is the identity with a brand name that has set itself as a standard above the rest.  In our post-modern era where God and church have been eschewed for self-reliance and self-will, there is still an inner desire to be identified with something better.  Even the so-called non-conformists have a need to conform to certain ideals.  So Starbucks succeeds where the church today is failing…  they are filling the need for identity and community. 

It would be easy to wag our fingers at the “church” as a group and cast aspersions upon the crumbling facade of Christendom.  But in doing so we fail to realize just who the church is.  It is you and I.  We are the body.  Christ told us so.  The church is not an institution, it’s a confluence of individuals who are sacredly bound to carry out the calling of Christ.  Our society is crying out for something superior to identify with…  something that creates community and gives reason for pride.  Our culture has proved that for the most part, they have no aversion to paying five dollars for a cup of coffee.  That same ethos would apply to the church if they found the community, pride and identity that spoke to post-modern hearts.  This responsibility falls on you and I.  We MUST resolve to set aside the petty bickering and the inane gossiping that goes on inside the church building so that the church itself might show what Christ is truly about.  We MUST become concerned about the issues of the day because it is within those issues that we find hurting people.  These are the ones Jesus called us to touch in His Name.  Or, we can go about business as usual and wander why we’re losing out. 

This ministry is not in the hands of an organization.  It’s not in the hands of a denomination.  It’s not in the hands of some larger entity that gets paid to care.  It is in the hands and you and I, the individual pieces that make up the church collective.  The question is, do any of us really care?




2 responses

27 01 2008

“Let’s go out for a coffee!”

This phrase says more than just sipping on a hot freshly brewed cup of “Joe.” Hell, even the word “Joe” personalizes the “going for a coffee” experience in a way that is, in and of itself, unbeatable. Name me one phrase in all of the religions that equates to “Let’s go out for a coffee.” Even a phrase like “Let’s pray” or “Let’s go to church” pales in comparison to the genuine request to “Let’s go out for a coffee.” I would love to do a survey of how many persons, after Sunday service, say to others with which they want to commune, “Let’s go out for a coffee!”


Well….for most of us…the phrase carries with it an invitation to open a door into the life of another to know another. Even if the conversation is filled with rumor and inuendo about the pastor and his boring message, the moment communicates a clarity of where we stand presently appreciating or dis-engaging ourselves from the One Love that binds us together. While the coffee momment is drug induced (caffiene), it does allow for us time to learn something about who we are and what we are about… least until the next cup is poured from the waitress’ kettle.

In all reality, the brand loyalty to one cup of coffee over another is a choice of will to pay a lot or a little for the caffiene that incorrectly fuels one’s day. I would imagine its like finding a drug dealer you with which you would dole out the dime for the bag. I have often heard it jokingly said of the loyal high-end coffee drinker “Starbucks must be putting heroine in their coffee for it to be so popular. That must be the reason why I return so often.”

Our faith in caffiene, from one cup of coffee to the equivalent of five found in one can of Mountain Dew, is flawless. We believe the affects of caffiene energizes. BUT, like most drugs (most illusions), caffiene simply hides the tired and exhausted synops for us to use the freshly brewed new ones our body faithfully and consistently produces. Once you remove the cover of caffiene from those tired and exhausted nerve-endings….ZAP… outcome of withdrawal from the illusion of happiness and bliss.

We have got to come to realize coffee clutching and kneeling to pray with others has their definite similarities. Going to the Church of our choice and walking to the local 7-11, Starbucks, or even McDonalds is simply that, a choice.

Each of us seeks out a place that speaks to our present definition of “comfort zone.” If we want think bad coffee is heavenly we might also believe “fire and brimstone” messages from the pulpit necessary. What will we will do. What we wish to do…we simply won’t.

Oh….by the way….I am NOT a coffee drinker. BUT I do love my DEW!

Author of IM with God

7 02 2008
C.L. Mareydt

yee gads! what a great comment! i need a cup of coffee …

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