Remaking the "Starbucks Experience"

Kristen Millares Bolt writes in the Seattle Post Intelligencer about the difference between the Chinese and the American Starbucks Experience.

“At 7:45 in the morning in a downtown Seattle Starbucks, customers want their coffee to go, and now. Hands clutching cell phones and briefcases fumble to toss the latest Beck CD onto the counter or maybe tuck a pound of beans under the elbow for later.

The Chinese, though, are remaking the “Starbucks Experience.”

Mostly eschewing to-go coffees and foods — and certainly music purchases — they’re opting for in-situ dining on curry puffs and moon cakes during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.

They can sit for hours.

“In Hong Kong and China, coffee is still more of a social event than a daily necessity,” said a spokesman, “People come to meet their friends and talk.”
It is a testament to the “Third Place” concept, often used by Chairman Howard Schultz to describe Starbucks — that home away from home where, for a premium, the host serves you coffee and offers up CDs and candy, too.