The Coffee Wars: Who Won?

(image cred)

Everyone’s weighing in on Starbucks’ little (big?) stunt of shutting down all of their stores for three hours Tuesday night. No caramel macchiatos? Help!

So, let’s take a look at the results, which ranged from the slightly negative:

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Starbucks made a promise. Do you believe it?

Washington Post: Espresso Yourself: Starbucks Takes a Break

to mostly neutral:

WSJ: Starbucks Closes Stores To Retrain Baristas

NY Times: Starbucks Takes a 3-Hour Coffee Break

And of course, not to be left out in the news cycle, both Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonalds attempted to lure in shut out Starbucks customers with promotions.

Meanwhile, coffee enthusiasts are calling Starbuck’s bluff. Ken Nye, owner of Ninth Street Espresso in New York, told ABC News, “To say that 3.5 hours is a barista training is hard to swallow. Company training is another story,” he said. “It probably makes sense when you have hundreds of thousands of employees. Probably makes sense that everybody learns about thirty rules of operation, but it’s also probably got nothing to do with the art of making coffee.”

We agree with Ken Wheaton in Advertising Age, except for the happier employers thing:

In my opinion, it’s a brilliant marketing stunt (but mine isn’t the only opinion). And if anyone takes offense at this being called a stunt rather than a concerted effort to retrain employees, tough. As someone in the office pointed out, Starbucks ain’t exactly open 24 hours a day, so some post-closing or pre-opening training could have been in order. Do it over a span of a few weeks after close and take the time to focus on things that really matter. But hey, this not only gets the chain a load of free press, it probably makes for slightly happier employees.

Either way, most of us will likely be back for our daily caffeine injection, re-training or not, right?

UPDATE: Gawker received some emails from Starbucks employees.