When I was in college, I wrote an op-ed entitled Saving Starbucks from America. My point was that, asides from their over-roasted coffee, Starbucks was falsely accused of nearly everything thrown at it by its (often pretentious pseudo-hipster-poseur) detractors.
Now, a new study cited in today’s Wall Street Journal offers further evidence to the contrary of those who think Starbucks puts independent coffee shops out of business. Indeed, there is a direct correlation between the nearby presence of a Starbucks and increased business for local independents.
While there are certainly large chains that have a history of decimating mom and pop shops (Wall-mart is apparently the scourge of the flyover states for just this reason), Starbucks doesn’t have the same effect, because of its limited specialty product nature, it has had the effect of ‘educating’ the market and increasing demand for its product category.
More discussion can be found on Metafilter.
Note: those who know me also know I am a super snob when it comes to espresso preparation, so I don’t actually go to Starbucks myself. Actually, since I’m picky about ordering my espresso ‘ristretto’ (short pull) I’m limited to only two coffee-shops in Manhattan I’ve found that actually know what they’re doing–which is why I usually pull shots at home on my Pasquini.