The University of Starbucks

19Jan11

Suppose you ask me for a cup of coffee, and I tell you that there’s only one option: Starbucks. It’s a brand that you’re both familiar and comfortable with because of its reputation. Immediately, you begin to think of a Tall Caramel Macchiato, with extra caramel, whipped cream, an extra shot of vanilla, and just a whisper of cinnamon (or something like that). Sounds pretty good, right?

You are now imagining a coffee with all the bells and whistles and fancy packaging that a coffee shop could possibly offer. Starbucks doesn’t sell coffee…it sells an experience.

Now, what if I told you that you must drink the coffee in no less than 4 hours, that it will cost you $7.95, and that all of the bells and whistles had more calories and fat in them than your daily allowance for the next 2 days combined! Still sound good?

Upon hearing all of the gory details (inflated cost, extra caloric-laden trappings, etc.), you might change your mind; you probably still need/want a cup of coffee…just not that one. Well, I could offer you another, less fancy, Canadian brand: Tim Hortons.

This time, I would tell you that you will have a cup of coffee with as much milk, sugar, and/or cream as you wanted, any size that you wanted, and although the cup might not look as hoity-toity as the Starbucks one, it gets the job done just as well (if not better…sometimes those Starbucks cups leak on me). I would then tell you that you could drink this cup of coffee in one hour or less, that it only costs $1.32, and you won’t go into diabetic shock after drinking it. It sounds a little more comforting, and just makes more sense, doesn’t it?

You know you need education just as much as you need caffeine. So, you can make the decision to go to university and enjoy their fancy packaging, along with their frightening cost and extra intake of empty calories with their “whipped-cream electives” (courses you don’t really need for your degree, but they tell you that you need in order to graduate), or you can choose to enrol in a private career college, get the “caffeine” you asked for, pay much less, take less time to complete your education, and only take the courses you need.

I know that the rivalry between the two brands is great, and the university brand is better known than the private career college brand at times, but most career colleges offer the same product as the universities: quality education.

Just like Starbucks, universities offer a fancy experience: degrees that you must complete in 4 years which also must be padded with electives (whether the courses relate to your degree or not). And just as Tim Hortons offers a classic cup of Joe with exactly what you need, career colleges offer programmes that prepare you for the working world with the exact amount of education you require for your field.

So, do you really want all of those expensive empty calories now, or would you rather pay less for the caffeine you asked for?

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7 Responses to “The University of Starbucks”

  1. More people need to read this post.

    • Thank you.

      It’s amazing how much we just accept the “designer brands” in life…even when it comes to our education.

      • Another view of coffee… or possibly not-coffee.

        http://grumpysquirrel.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/the-americanization-of-coffee/

      • I’m on it!

  2. Like this post….

  3. 6 Anonymous

    I wanted to like this post but comparing a caramel macchiato to a standard coffee with lots of cream and sugar is not a sound comparison. Does Tom Horton’s offer a similar caramel macchiato type of beverage? If so, then THAT would be a comparison worth making. I’m all for taking a moment to gain some perspective before handing over my hard earned cash, but any good business student would ensure the competitive and control samples are in fact, comparable.

    • You work for Starbucks, don’t you…? 😉


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