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Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX ) may have come out with its silliest idea yet to improve its lagging profitability; it's backing away from the policy of automatically brewing up decaf coffee for the afternoon crowd.
Need I explain why this seems strange? Caffeine is a stimulant; it can keep you awake at night. I'm one of those people who benefits from trying to reduce my intake at some point in the p.m. time frame (even though I rarely ratchet back early enough). Yesterday, I contemplated running out into the snow screaming, which was a result of nervous energy from being a little too jacked up on caffeine. Whoops.
Seriously, afternoon seems like a pretty good time to have decaf on hand for overly jangled patrons, right?
The memo about the change claims the demand for decaf in the afternoon is low and that the current way of doing things results in "high waste." Fortunately for decaf fans, customers who request it will receive the decaf option, but the baristas will have to take the time to brew it fresh.
Still, I just don't get it. Starbucks has vowed to be all about coffee in its urge to reinvigorate its business, and decaf is certainly part of the coffee lover's universe. OK, so you can't get hash browns and Egg McMuffins at McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) in the afternoon (that's kind of a bummer, in my book), but McDonald's has never claimed it's all about the breakfast food, after all. I'm sure there's not too much demand for PepsiCo's (NYSE: PEP ) high-caffeine Mountain Dew after 8 p.m., but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be available for say, college students on all-nighters or diehard caffeine freaks.
As I've said before, I'm a shareholder and basically a believer in Starbucks' business, but that doesn't mean I don't get critical, and some of its moves have started to strike me as clueless; this one seems clueless and a bit desperate. Starbucks reports its quarterly results tonight after market close; I hope to see some strategies and initiatives that seem a bit more innovative than ditching decaf.
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