Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) is still going about as strong as a triple shot of espresso. In what's hardly a surprising turn of events given recent history, the coffee purveyor reported second-quarter earnings that were up more than 50% over last year's numbers.

It's not surprising because same-store sales have remained caffeinated throughout the winter months. Even when there was reason to worry that tapped-out gift cards would equal consumer slowdown for beverages and pastries, that concern didn't materialize.

Starbucks' second-quarter earnings came in at $79 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, from $52 million, or $0.13 per share in the same quarter last year. Revenues increased 30% to $1.2 billion. In the company's press announcement, President and CEO Orin Smith said company-operated stores had the strongest quarterly same-store sales gain in 10 years.

In more good news, Starbucks' yearly growth is ahead of expectations; with current revenue growth of 28.8% on a year-to-date basis, the company now expects 2004 revenue growth in the range of 25% to 30%, as opposed to the old call for 20% for the year. It upped its 2004 earnings projection to $0.90 to $0.91 per share, from $0.86 to $0.87 per share.

(Don't get too excited -- Starbucks still stands by its old projections, that 20% revenue growth and 3% to 7% in same-store sales growth, with monthly anomalies, are the more realistic targets for the long term. Which ain't too shabby either.)

If there was any downside, it was the high price of dairy goods -- ah, the foamy milk that tops our lattes. (Other companies have shared this issue -- think Papa John's (NASDAQ:PZZA) recent admittance that the high price of dairy would eat into profits due to the rising costs of that king of all pizza staples, cheese.) Milk accounts for less than 10% of Starbucks' expenses, according to Reuters.

On the upside, Starbucks is eyeing the non-coffee drinking set -- recent stats say that roughly half of us Americans avoid coffee altogether. The company plans several new Frappuccino flavors for the summer months, including several that don't contain coffee. Emphasis: chocolate. And when you consider the demographics that have a taste for chocolate -- and whether Starbucks will soon funnel more kids into its stores -- it seems a wise move.

Starbucks continues to grow its business and earnings, and its hold on the consumer taste bud shows no signs of stopping. Starbucks' stock recently rose 3%, hovering near its 52-week high. A P/E ratio of 42 sounds a bit pricey for most tastes, but when you consider Starbucks' history of delivering, it's arguable that you pay a high price for quality.

Is Starbucks overheated and investors are going to get burned? Or do you think the cafe chain can continue its earnings growth? Take a break and chat with other Fools on the Starbucks discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. She is not part of the population who avoids coffee altogether; nor does she avoid chocolate.