Coffee shops are a big deal, especially in the early mornings when people are off to work and the evenings when date-nights and meet-ups are common. Worldwide they’re making their stand, and whether it be the big boys like Caribou or Starbucks or the smaller, single-owner restaurants, coffee is an integral part of many people’s daily lives globally.
“Globally” is being put to the test during these Winter Olympics. Technically, the Starbucks chain is not allowed to have a presence at the Olympics, as they’re not an official sponsor. McDonald’s is, which leads to them being the only official coffee distributor during the event. It seems that NBC has decided that their desire for Starbucks coffee during their exclusive coverage is more important than sponsorship, according to The Wall Street Journal. They’ve crafted their own, unique and hidden Starbucks in their coverage base.
How do they manage to staff a secretive Starbucks?
Bringing in the joe is a delicate exercise. NBC flies in a rotating crew of some 15 baristas from Starbucks coffee shops in Russia, sets them up with accommodations in Sochi, and pays their regular wages. As with past Games, Starbucks has gladly cooperated with the effort.
All told, the barista battalion is larger than the Sochi Olympic teams of some 57 countries.
Technically, the company can operate as it’s not for public consumption and is limited purely to NBC’s offices. This hasn’t stopped Starbucks cups finding their way around the Olympic village, leading people to try to track down their source. They can only offer espressos and lattes, and no black coffee.
While Starbucks is supportive of this “hidden” restaurant during the Olympics, they are not supportive of a Starbucks that opened up in Los Angeles. Technically, it’s not a Starbucks; the coffee shop doesn’t have any official ties to the company.
It’s also called “Dumb Starbucks”.
It was launched with a technicality: it’s an art show, and the coffee is the “art.” According to The New Yorker, it’s a creation of Nathan Fielder (with an assist from Dan Horowitz). Since the launch of Dumb Starbucks, it has been shut down, but will be seen on Comedy Central’s “Nathan For You” later this year.
If Dumb Starbucks is controversial enough, don’t forget that Hot Cup Of Joe opened up on Valentine’s Day in Spokane. In comparison to the “Bikini Baristas,” Hot Cup Of Joe features shirtless male bartenders. As they find themselves with significantly more female customers than male, they’re offering a $1 discount to all male customers.
Do you sell coffee in your restaurant? You most likely don’t need to hide it, and shouldn’t expect a “Dumb” variation to pop-up. With a shirtless staff, you might find yourself with increased attention, but it may not be for your drinks. Any coffee shop that needs to drum up business would benefit from thinking outside of the box like these people have done.