samedi 15 septembre 2007

Why Starbucks has a chance in France

Even with a strong tradition of "cafés" and "bistrots" here in France, Starbucks has been developping in Paris and spreading like mushrooms.

The first Starbucks shop opened the 16 January 2004 near the Opera. Today, it has 28 stores in Paris and 7 stores in the Parisian area.

Me, I discovered Starbucks in London and was so greatful to have found one that I took my quarters in the Starbucks store that's near the Centre Pompidou (the modern art museum called also Beaubourg) every time I have to go to Paris and work during the day.

We could think that success comes from the turistic factor and that Americans and other aliens are reassured to recognize this brand where products are standard (it surely helped me when I was in Turkey).

But you have also two other factors:

  1. The fact that you can stay forever in a Starbucks store and nobody's going to pressure you to leave if you don't order something every 30 minutes

  2. The French don't know how to make good coffee in general. Most of the "cafés" that you can find in France serve you a very bitter coffee made out of robusta coffee (cheaper than the arabica, but also very bitter)
My mom always recalls a scene she witnessed in Paris some years ago in a café terrace located in a very bourgeois neighbourhood. An old and very elegant lady called the proverbial unpleasant parisian waiter:

- Garçon !
- Yes Ma'am.
- Your coffee is downright lousy!
(Votre café est parfaitement dégueulasse !)

Now my brother was asking me the other day after we heard that Starbucks had to leave the Forbidden City in Beijing:

"What would you say if Starbucks opened a store in La Tour Eiffel ?"

Frankly, I don't give a damn. I don't see why a coffee shop could not open in La Tour Eiffel just because it's called Starbucks and it's an American chain. Oh well... okey... maybe not in La Tour Eiffel then...

But I like their coffee. It's better than most French coffees. And the ambiance that you find in the stores is as (if not more) agreeable than those of traditional French coffees.

So for me a venti capuccino with an extra shot of expresso !

3 commentaires:

::: sissi ::: a dit…

hmm i was wondering the other day about starbucks ... and actually i thought it wouldnt have any chance in austria, because we have a huge coffee tradition over here and a million of coffee houses ... so after reading your post i was looking up how many starbucks we have here in austria ... and i knew of like 2 or 3, but found that there are 11 - all in vienna of course and all in very touristic areas (and at the airport).
so ja i am not sure why if they will ever spread their shops all over the country but i really doubt that.
idk if all that has a point - but in the end - i am anit-starbucks and pro-austria-coffee-house-tradition :)

Magnolia31 a dit…

As long as the coffee is better I'm all for coffee tradition.

Sadly, that's not the case in France.

But a lot of people were afraid it was not going to work because "cafés" are meeting places.

In fact "bistrots" are meeting places, more than cafés. And Starbucks is defo not a bistrot. So it's not the same thing at all. And I hope the "bistrot" tradition is going to live a long life :)

Lepu a dit…

Well, this is the little brother adding my onw petal to this conversation.

I'm just going to repeat myself, 'cause I think I've already told you this before : I think your passion for this place is a little bit exagerated.

In the first place, compared to many places in the world I think that France's average coffee is pretty good, I mean, I've tasted coffee in places such as Spain, USA, Nicaragua and Mexico; the coffee there just tastes like socks 'juice. I'd rather have french coffee anytime.

In the second place, I think you should just consider that "Stabucks" is a corporation, and that, as such, if it ever earns sufficient recognition so as to steer people away from traditional coffee houses then it'll just be another triumph of capitalism over traditional commerce. You might say I'm exagerating too... but, hey if we go back in time, I'm sure you would find a lot of little places in France where you could have a meal for less than 8€ (or the equivalent back then in francs). Well, today that market is completely dominated by Mc Donald's. They're everywhere in France : 2 Mc Donald's in Champs Elysées!

I just hope that 10 years from now we still have places in France where we can say "Monsieur, votre café est parfaitement dégueulasse!"