Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ponsonby Rd and High Street Auckland Defeats Starbucks.

This letter was published in an abbreviated form in the New Zealand Herald 27 January 2011.
I responded to a feature by Nathan Field. Nathan is senior equity analyst at Gareth Morgan Investments.
Nathan tells only part of the story about why Starbucks will not be the dominant player in the New Zealand coffee market . We don’t all prefer coffee carts or seek edgy places. Starbucks have retreated from Ponsonby Rd and High Street . Both these streets are the home to high quality, well established, independent coffee roasters.
I know these establishment well . Yes some of the crew can be tattooed and occasionally you may be served by a surly actress . The reality is something different .
The lounges are comfortable all have clean toilets and Auckland City A grade hygiene certificates. Their friendly, knowledgeable staff make great coffee and know their product .
All these small businesses actually lead the way in service and quality . Starbucks is a different experience and their crew seem to be scripted . It is great that staff are on message . Better still when they actually believe it . This is another difference you get from the enthusiastic staff in their Ponsonby Rd and High street coffee lounges, they take seriously what they do.
Despite Nathan’s purple prose, Starbucks know that not being on Ponsonby Rd or Primrose Hill in London they can only be another chain of which there are many. Auckland is home to well travelled kiwis and increasing numbers of European and South Americans.
It is patronising for anyone to state that we are not true coffee aficionados .