Culinary no-no #546

Culinary no-no began on Father’s Day 2007, a beautiful summer day, when I wrote about grilling brats. And eating brats. And topping those brats. I was inspired by my wife, Jennifer who, in my admittedly unscientific opinion, ruins brats by squirting ketchup on them. Other dining taboos quickly came to mind. The original idea was to take this concept only a few months, till the end of summer and then pull the plug. Then the unexpected happened. People started reading Culinary no-no. Lots of folks. So we keep doing the no-no.

My wife blogs, too.

I’ll let her explain her love, and need, of coffee.

A long time ago I blogged about an early assignment I had working at WUWM. I was sent to an A & P grocery store on the east side of Milwaukee to get reaction from shoppers to the announced closing of all of the franchise stores.

Most I spoke with were stunned, especially one octogenarian woman who sadly told me in words I remember to this day:

“I’ve got to have my Eight O’Clock Coffee in the morning. I need my coffee.”

I also recall my years working at the state Capitol in Madison. When gas prices were exorbitant many of my colleagues moaned and groaned in agony. Yet I could set my watch to them, observing several times a day their trip to the Starbucks directly across the street on the Capitol Square.

We know the addictive power of the bean. There’s also the strong popularity of coffee shops throughout the land. How did that happen?

Award-winning writer Kenyon Farrow credits television.

“I think ‘Friends’ (and ‘Seinfeld’) are totally responsible for marketing cities to young white suburbanites, [which] helped fuel the market-demand side for gentrification to take place in the ‘90s and 2000’s,”said Farrow.

Another writer, Ben Adler who covers environmental policy and politics for the Grist said “Americans have increasingly become alienated by the social isolation of suburban, car-dependent life. That’s fueled both the urban gentrification that brings the cafes, and the cafes themselves.”

And how about Starbucks? In 1994 Starbucks opened with 425 stores nationwide. By 2005 the number exploded to 10,241.

New York City’s Jay Smooth who does videos for the Ill Doctrine blog summed it up well.

“Starbucks got [people] used to paying an inflated price for good coffee, which in turn created a market for places to sustain that habit after noticing Starbucks is not good coffee,” said Smooth. “I’d be interested to see a chart of how closely the rise of coffee shops coincides with the rise of laptops (and subsequent portable devices), and the demand for workspaces with wi-fi that they (along with changes in the economy/job market?) have ushered in.”

But is the coffee shop  becoming a no-no?

The answer is yes.

The number of coffee establishments in the U.S. has increased by 16% over the last year to almost 33,000. And that’s not exactly good news.

According to

The boom in coffee shops is starting to hurt business owners. Consumers are visiting traditional coffee shops less often when there are a plethora of cheaper options. Everyone from McDonald’s Corp. to gas stations is hawking specialty coffee. Even grocery stores are expanding the space devoted to bottled and canned coffee drinks, which (market research firm) Mintel says poses a threat to coffee shops. Traffic growth to large coffee chains such as Starbucks is slowing, while traffic to small coffee chains and independent shops is declining, according to NPD Group Inc.

Read all the details here.


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