More than 60 million customers visit Starbucks each week. So, it should come as no surprise that most people seem to have an opinion about the company or its coffee.
The Daily Ticker's Aaron Task sat down with Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz to ask him your questions submitted to us via Facebook.
Watch the video to find out what more Starbucks can be doing to promote organic and fair-trade products and how even the CEO cannot decode the complicated and almost secret language of Starbucks.
Q: How do you take your coffee? (Submitted by Andrew)
A: Different ways. I start out in the morning with a French press of Sumatra around 5 am. Then I stop at a store or two and I have a doppio espresso macchiato. And, I'm drinking a French press throughout the day: black coffee always.
Q: Do you have a least favorite item at Starbucks? (Submitted by Anonymous)
A: I don't like any of the drinks that have been pre-sweetened, in terms of frappuccino and things like that. Those are fabulous beverages, but I'm a purist when it comes to coffee.
Q: Why should I buy stock in Starbucks? (Submitted by Joe)
A: I would never come on any program and tell someone to buy stock — it wouldn't be responsible. What I would say is as you examine the landscape of public companies, if you are looking for a company that really does live its values and over a 15 year period has had a pretty charmed life — although the last two years were tough — and a leadership team and a company that is deeply committed to creating shareholder value, as well as, living in a way that social conscience is part of our DNA, perhaps this is the company for you. But, someone should really do their homework.
Q: Are there still places in the USA that will be suitable for expansion? If so, here and why? (Submitted by Trudy)
A: First off, there's lots of stores in Manhattan and I can't tell you how many people say to me, 'I can't find a store when I want it in New York City' and I got to say, what are those people doing? They must live in a cave.
However, there are many places in America, where we feel like there's a lot of opportunity. I think the South is a place where we don't have as many stores as we could have. Places in the middle part of the country in terms of the Midwest.
But, we're still opening between 100-150 stores a year in America and I think we can do that for many years to come.
Q: Do you have any guilt about pushing out the small guy? (Submitted by Lisa)
A: In 1971, there were two coffee companies that were emerging: one was Peet's Coffee Company in California and one was Starbucks in Seattle. Over the next thirty or forty years an industry was created primarily because of Starbucks' success. There are thousands of independent coffee stores all over North America and I would say the reason that they were given an opportunity was because of the awareness that was created as a result of Starbucks and some other national companies.
The truth is that these independents do extremely well. The market is very large. Starbucks has about maybe four percent or five percent of total amount of coffee beverages consumed in North America. Big market. We are not putting people out of business.
And, if you think about what we do as a company, I don't think many of these other independent stores are providing health insurance for their people or giving equity in the form of stock options. So, our cost of doing business is much higher than the independents.
Tell us what you think!