Tag Archives: Agtron

Latte Link to Economic Recovery is Economic Hokum

Signature Cafe Alamo Safeway

“When we went into the recession, we saw a change in the mix of lattes versus coffee, and now we’ve seen — it’s early but we’re seeing — a trend back to lattes,”

Steve Burd, CEO Safeway

You have to love this guy Steve Burd who is CEO of Safeway.

Using coffee stats to predict the ebb and flow of the profitability for Safeway is genius. The guy is a mystic, a prophet. This forecast is to economics what Ground Hog Day is to weather. Even more remarkable is the fact that such an analysis is the basis of a business article in the October 16, 2009,  Los Angeles Times

When Mr. Burd gave his presentation I hope there were some discerning espresso drinkers in the audience. As shareholders I hope those drinkers took the opportunity to speak up, and cross examine Mr. Burd. I hope they told Mr. Burd that if people are buying any coffee— latte or otherwise, from Safeway it is a sure sign that these economic times are still financially rough for families. Such desperate acts are a sign that this recovery is a long way off. I hope they told Mr. Burd that there is no correlation between good economic times and latte drinking.

Until this article, I never even imagined that Safeway served coffee, and I shop there every other day of my life. So this morning I drove down to Safeway, not to buy the coffee, but to see the coffee drinking masses, the voters, the economic trend setters who were providing this data to Mr. Burd. Outside the store I noticed a sign that read “Signature Café. (see picture above)” I thought to myself, perhaps I had missed drinking coffee at some hip destination called “Signature.” When I made my way through the automatic doors I realized that Mr. Burd was referring to the sales of coffee drinks from the Safeway in-house ubiquitous Starbucks.

So are these coffee places in Safeway a Starbucks or a Safeway? I never really cared, and still don’t, but this morning, given the fact that Mr. Burd was playing economist, I walked up to the blond barista wearing a Starbucks uniform, asking if this “set up” was a Starbucks, or a Safeway, and what or where was the Signature Café.?

There was no waiting in line for the in-house brew (despite Mr. Burd’s forecast) so she had plenty of time to chat. “We are Safeway, and licensed by Starbucks to sell their coffee,” she beamed. “The Signature Café is actually the Deli located right on the other side of the battery displays next to us.”

OK then.

Being an attorney (a fact I hardly ever disclose) I should have asked her what a “license” was, but I was in a hurry to my favorite café. Standing directly in front of Mr. Burd’s, point of sale, I walked away without buying or drinking. I was in a hurry to spend two dollars on an espresso shot several miles away. I was in a hurry to spend money on gasoline, car insurance and wear and tear to my vehicle in order to drink that shot. I was in a hurry to leave Safeway to go where the beans were hand roasted light brown somewhere in the neighborhood of an Agtron 55, which is gourmet; and not gourmet because it says so on the can, or the packaging.

So Mr. Burd; hold your foam, hold your steamed milk, in fact, hold your coffee. I am just looking for fine espresso. Times are good.

I drink mine straight no chaser.

Copyright © 2009,  Pat Riggs

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