Starbucks, whose stock is flagging as McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts sip away at its business, is announcing today at its annual meeting that it will freshly grind beans in-store for its brewed coffee. The move is only one of several intended to lure customers back into the store (80 percent of orders at the chain are to-go). Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says there may be a customer loyalty card, premium cups from Clover machines, and remodeling in the works.
Starbucks, of course, is largely a victim of its own success. After heightening the country's coffee consciousness, it created a market ripe for other high-end shops to move into for fancy coffee drinks—and for McDonald's and Dunkin' to move into with improved premium-blend drip coffees. That leaves Starbucks in the position of boosting its identity as a "third place," somewhere other than work and home that people can hang out in. Whether this is possible, even with the moves being made, will have to be seen. <!-- Personally, I've never thought of Starbucks as a "third place," as I've never found one that's felt comfortable, unique, or inviting. Those that I've visited all have the feeling of a late-'90s airport food court—someplace I don't want to be unless I'm forced to kill time. Although Meg Hourihan has described the homey feeling at her local Starbucks (which unfortunately remodeled itself away from its well-worn charm). -->
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