The race to save coffee

“Coffee is the common man’s gold…” — Sheik Abd-al-Kabir ‘In praise of coffee’ (1587) We take coffee for granted. Judging by the ubiquity of Starbucks stores, you’d think that coffee was abundant. But the coffee we like to drink, the fruity-tasting coffee arabica, is projected to decline given the dual pressures of climate change which reduces … Continue reading The race to save coffee


Design creates function

First, we design, then we deduce. Starbucks built cafes with the intent to recreate the romance of Italian coffee shops to convince you to buy a mediocre cup of coffee. Apple makes computers to empower its users to create stuff, whether it’s movie animations, apps, or spreadsheets. Design creates function. As Austrian architect, Hermann Czech … Continue reading Design creates function

The Popularity Bias

Popular people are more attractive. Popular things are more appealing. What’s popular grows in popularity by default through the network effect. High school is a popularity contest. This game extends into the adult world. The App Store ranks apps by the number of downloads. Once anything (apps, books, music, garden hoses) reaches the charts or … Continue reading The Popularity Bias

Why food chains are non-places 🍔🌮

Chains are the least memorable places we flock to, yet we always know they are there, clustered like neighbors amongst each other. Next to an Applebees is a Target, a Burger King, and a Starbucks. In “Dear Olive Garden, Never Change,” Helen Rosner writes: “What it means to be a non-place is the same thing … Continue reading Why food chains are non-places 🍔🌮

Moleskine opens up a coffee shop in Milan

Moleskine opened up its first official store in Milan, Italy. I’m looking forward to the day it comes stateside. Ever since Barnes and Noble downsized and closed a bunch of stores, Starbucks and Peet’s have been the only consistent go-to coffee houses for getting work done.  While coffee shops were the original social networks, Tom … Continue reading Moleskine opens up a coffee shop in Milan

Newsletter 61: How the Mad Men lost the plot, What Coffee Tells Us About the Economy, and More

Arts & Culture How the Mad Men lost the plot Social media marketing humanizes brand voice and creates customer advocacy. However, TV (aka mass marketing) still proves to be the most effective way to keep a brand top of mind. ‘Light buyers,’ which make up a majority of a brand’s sales, are more likely to … Continue reading Newsletter 61: How the Mad Men lost the plot, What Coffee Tells Us About the Economy, and More

Newsletter: Disinformation and Frappuccinos™

web gems What an American football team in southeastern Ukraine can teach the US about the perils of disinformation, a term created by the KGB in the 1950s. In 1992, George Howell AKA “The Coffee Shaman” created the Frappuccino™. In 1994, he sold his twelve Boston-based Coffee Connection stores to Starbucks for $24 million. He still … Continue reading Newsletter: Disinformation and Frappuccinos™

Environmental stimuli from cavemen to generation thumbs

The caveman wakes up and sees the same panorama every day: the zebra, lion, and scattered trees. A person today wakes up to the instant simulation of their phone, a convergence of distraction. The savage caveman goes hunting for food, a full-time job. Today’s person orders a Starbucks latte from bed to pick up on … Continue reading Environmental stimuli from cavemen to generation thumbs

What’s Ridiculous?

It’s ridiculous to use an iPad to take a picture. It’s ridiculous to carry around a Starbucks Venti-sized coffee. It’s ridiculous to be driving a Hummer in 2016. Bigger isn’t necessarily better but it stands out like a sore thumb when its counterpart is typically smaller. Compare this to cheaper, same-size, more unusual alternatives. It’s … Continue reading What’s Ridiculous?