Saturday, February 14, 2009

14th February 2009
- A Grande Tale of Caffeine, Commerce & Culture by Taylor Clark

I think if there is one book you want to pick up to understand what coffee is all about - history and evolution of the cuppa, coffee crop cultivation and trade, the coffee culture in urban societies - just read this book. Of course, it's one man's study and take on it but there is deep research and investigation that makes it pretty credible.

Personally, I picked up the title because I like Starbucks. I simply see that it has a very simple business philosophy: that is, to provide good coffees and a great place for people to meet. True enough, excerpts of interview with Starbucks honcho Howard Schultz reveal that the business just aims to provide a simple cup of coffee and along with it, a unique experience.

Great overview of business practices affecting competition, location, unfair negotiation powers and many realities of business that consumers are spared from knowing but get to enjoy all the benefits of the winners and losers.

One thought summary: The voice of the visionary is often foreign to many who are dubious of the simplicity and focus of his thought, and who are convinced that there must be deeper hidden motives. The visionary often then finds himself a subject of open debate and dissection to slice the perceived nobility of his purpose. People of passion are dream carriers who see that the potential is greater than the present. Yet they are realists not illusionists and they often have track record to prove. I especially like the Starbucks work culture where though people who work there look good and are typically efficient, creating a buzz culture that you can expect at every Starbucks outlet, individualism is not allowed where the whole is more important than the one. Teamwork is emphasized and the most important person is the one who greets you at the counter.

Where you can get it: got mine at Kinokuniya, seen it at Popular; NLB
Level of impact: The 3-in-1 coffee/commerce/culture is a natural draw
Timing of book: Only for enthusiasts of 1 or more of the 3 topics