Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson.
On our show this week:
We report about the successful coffee stores called Starbucks.
Starbucks coffee shops can be found all over America and in more than thirty countries around the world. Many people think they are great places to enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea. But others criticize the company. Faith Lapidus has more.
If you are in any major city in America, the chances are high that you are not far from a Starbucks. In fact, you might be very close to several of these coffee stores. The company started in the West Coast city of Seattle, Washington, in nineteen seventy-one. Starbucks was named after a character in the famous American novel "Moby-Dick" by Herman Melville. Today, there are more than twelve thousand Starbucks around the world.
Sales last year were almost eight billion dollars. The company believes in opening many stores in busy areas of cities. For example, there are about thirty Starbucks stores in downtown Seattle. Recently, three Starbucks opened in the area near VOA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Starbucks sells more than just plain coffee. It started a whole coffee culture with its own special language and coffee workers called baristas. It sells many kinds of hot and cold coffee drinks, like White Chocolate Mocha and Frappuccino. It also sells music albums, coffee makers, food, and even books. But most of all, it sells the idea of being a warm and friendly place for people to sit, read or talk.
Starbucks is a great success story. Buyers are willing to pay as much as five dollars for a coffee drink. People we talked to said they go to Starbucks because they can depend on it to have exactly what they want and to be nearby.
However, some people do not like the company's aggressive expansion. Owners of independent coffee stores cannot compete with Starbucks. One small coffee seller is taking the company to court. She says the way the company does business is illegal because it stops property owners from leasing stores to other coffee companies. She sees Starbucks as controlling the market and forcing out competition.
Nicolas O'Connell works for La Colombe, a coffee roasting company based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He says Starbucks has helped to educate people about coffee from many countries. But he criticizes the company for using machines more than people to make the coffee. Mister O'Connell points out that the coffee culture is all about a handmade product and interaction between people.
I'm Doug Johnson.
I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by Dana Demange, Shelley Gollust and Caty Weaver, who also was our producer.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.