Food Marketing


It’s summer in Phoenix. This means that if the temperature outside falls below 105ºF (that’s like 40°C to those of you who refuse to blindly follow US standards) it’s called a “cooling down” pattern.

One of the ways to cope is with a delicious frozen drink such as The Arizona Yankee’s very own strawberry smoothie which I started to make after realizing a neighborhood smoothie/coffee/beer/wine place charged something like $6 for one. Iced coffee works well, too.

Mr. Coffee and Chock Full O' Nuts: Joe D would approve.
I drink from Mr. Coffee and Chock Full O’ Nuts. Joe D would approve.

Then there’s Starbucks, where I occasionally meet with potential clients. I also stop there to get Frappuccinos for my father, who loves them. The 8-ounce frapps, he says, are the perfect size.

To Starbuck or not?

Before there are accusations that The Arizona Yankee is shilling for ‘Bucks (well, at least not those bucks), understand I hardly ever treat myself to one. Sometimes I take advantage of the twofer coupons Target hands out but only if Junior Yankee is with me.

I do have a  brother who used to be a huge Starbucks fan. “Wanna buck?” he once asked me when I was visiting him in New York. In New York, local zoning laws require a Starbucks within 500 feet of a subway stop.

“Gross,” I replied. “You’re my brother.”

“Bucking,” I soon learned, meant going to Starbucks. It doesn’t have to be coffee and if memory serves correct I had a hot chocolate with maybe a splash of coffee.

It turned out my brother had qualified as some kind of super-Starbucks fan. Anyone who knows him wouldn’t be surprised. This is a man who finished law school in two years. His personal motto is Death to Decaf.

Free refills were among his Starbucks benefits. He happily used them for years until about a year ago when Starbucks decided to tighten this reward.

My brother takes the subway to work, from 145th Street to Grand Central, which is across the street from where he works in the Chrysler Building. Starbucks’ Grand Central location is little more than a counter. It has no seating; it’s meant for commuters to grab a coffee and go. My brother used to do just that, and return within the hour to stretch his legs and get a refill.

Then, one fateful day, an employee pointed out that refills were meant for customers who remained in the store.

“Where would that be?” my brother asked. Did I mention he’s an attorney?

The employee waved his arm to indicate “around here.” Which, as my brother pointed out, has no place to sit or even loiter during rush hour to drink a coffee.

In fact, I’m certain my brother had observed rush hour crowd patterns to plot a course between exiting the train and navigating to the correct side of the concourse to reach the Starbucks counter without being bowled over. If you’ve ever been in Grand Central during rush hour, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The Starbucks counter, my brother argued, has no seating like a traditional Starbucks. The employee wasn’t convinced, nor was the onsite manager.

Independence From Starbucks

Not one to give up easily, my brother contacted Starbuck’s headquarters to ask about the refill policy. HQ cited the Refill Rule.

My brother then declared No More Starbucks.

Sometime after this incident, a colleague noticed the profound lack of coffee in his vicinity. “Have you given it up?” the colleague asked. “No,” my brother replied, “just Starbucks.” I have to assume the colleague got a run-down of The Arizona Yankee’s Brother v Starbucks.

Funny, the colleague said. “We noticed no one drinks the coffee here so we’re going with a new vendor. We’re putting in a Keurig.”

Keurig’s standard package includes Starbuck’s coffee. So my bro gets his fix and saves himself a few bucks every day.

His new motto? Buck off!


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Ruth Ann Monti is a writer for all things webby. She lives in sunny Scottsdale, AZ with her son.