Starbucks: A Coffee Shop Brand and a Subculture

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Starbucks Corporation is the largest coffeehouse company on the planet. With thousands of locations spanning across the world. Starbuck relies and gets the same customers to visit daily, if not multiple times per day. Which is something that no other behemoth in the food sector can match. The low capacity and sleek modern seating reflects the taste and image of the sub-culture it seems to sell. In every single gluten free pastry and every espresso, Starbucks is selling a sophisticated sub-culture, one created facilitated the global success of the company. Starbuck’s marketing scheme is used to feed its customers the brand’s ideology and its mythology.

The company dances on the thin line between exclusivity and exclusion. Which made it popular among white, upper middle class young professionals. Starbucks set themselves apart from their competitors. By creating a coffee language all their own, which adds to the allure that Starbuck’s products are inherently culturally elevated. Starbucks, in creating its own vocabulary to refer to the manner in which its coffee is prepared. And ordered creates an intentional distinction between itself and other coffee providers. The language feeds into the elitism, exclusivity, and egocentrism that the customer craves from its products.

For example, instead of saying to “stain”, which could lessen the appeal of the product, they refer to the product as a macchiato, which basically translates to throwing espresso over form. The language helps unify the sub- culture and is a perfect example of how language can convey a message of higher quality or implied sophistication. Starbuck seeks to elevate the product by relying on the insecurities of its customers. To dare to ask what macchiato means would be to acknowledge one’s ignorance of not only the language but to expose yourself as being out of the social class that are ‘cultured’ enough to know what it means. The subculture has created a language barrier, one that is needed to be overcomed to thrive in the subculture, lest ye suffer a you’re-so-stupid look from the teenager working behind the counter. The term macchiato, which is influenced by Italian reflects an interesting component to the sub-culture. As Sindey Mintz addresses in his book, Tasting

Food, Tasting Freedom, “America lacks a foundation of cuisine specific to American soil.” Since America is such a melting pot of diverse cultures, it lacks a distinct cuisine that have roots tracing back to hundreds or even thousands of years, comp, compared to the cuisines of Italy, France, and Japan (Mintz 59). The United States, being a product of Europe immigration lacks and therefore craves something they can cling to as a connection to the old world.

The sub- culture reflects a yearning for the idealized and romantic vision of the European lifestyle and perceived product. Starbucks attempts to sell its customers a product that reflects Italian quality. However, as Starbuck’s share in the coffee market grew across the country, the sub-culture that supported and helped them thrive began to reject the product they helped create. The original members that helped create the modern coffee culture, atmosphere, and allure of high priced coffee rejected Starbucks after it became increasing corporate and mainstream. This reveals how once the sub-culture’s brand became incorporated into mainstream American culture, even though a lot of the qualities that made it attractive to the sub-culture remained the same it was that it became a chain that made it pedestrian. The sub-culture was appropriated into mainstream American culture, creating a coffeehouse great awakening among millennials and adults seeking the allure that Starbucks sells with their chai tea latte.

Cite this paper

Starbucks: A Coffee Shop Brand and a Subculture. (2023, May 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/starbucks-a-coffee-shop-brand-and-a-subculture/

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