Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fake Starbucks

I wrote earlier about the absence of Starbucks in Sweden. Personally, I don't miss Starbucks, but it seems there are those Swedes who feel their country has been left out of this worldwide phenomenon of "coffee culture."

Maybe they were left out, maybe they opted out, maybe they escaped. I've heard several explanations of Starbucks' conspicuous absence in this otherwise fully-westernized, participating-locations country.

One story goes that there once was a Starbucks in Sweden which was closed by the government because the products did not meet health standards. Starbucks felt it was better to close the store instead of changing the formulation of their beverages. After exhaustive web searching, I really couldn't find any information from any reputable source about what may or may not have happened.

I did find an article from the Puget Sound Business Journal which reported Starbucks had plans to open stores in Sweden during 2000.

Regardless of whether they got around to opening any shops in Sweden, a number of imitators have picked up the slack. My favorite Starbucks tribute shop is one whose name is Coffee Culture, but I call it Fake Starbucks. Anything look familiar about the menu board?

The cup sleeves at Fake Starbucks - I mean, Coffee Culture - even say, "Careful, the beverage you are about to enjoy is hot," which is only one word away from being the exact phrase from Starbucks' cups. In fairness, their coffee is not bad and the price of 20 kr ($2.50) for a take-away latte is very affordable in the area.

I apologize that the photo is a little blurry, but I think you get the idea. I didn't want to look like a corporate spy taking pictures of their shop.

Starbucks recently sued a small shop in Göteborg called Starcups after the owner refused to change his store's name and logo. Perhaps that's a signal Starbucks is planning on moving into the country.

I just don't see the point in copying something or opening a business that is so recognizably derivative.

I really miss some of Louisville's independent shops like Quills and, of course, Jackson's who, without question, sells the best coffee I've ever had. Anybody wanna send me some?


  1. The story about Starbucks and the health authorities are fake. There has never been a Starbucks in Stockholm, however it is true they did look into opening in Sweden back in the early 00's. I did actually email them back in '99 asking about this, and they confirmed looking into it, but had no firm plans.

    One reason it never happend, might be that the swedish "fika" culture is well developed, and it would be hard for Starbucks to compete with regular coffee houses.

  2. Jackson's has changed it name to Red Hot Roasters. Sondra bought out Chris's share of the business and is doing it solo now. Same location, same beans, same roasting process ... just a new name a logo.

  3. I know, I do miss that lil doggie on the can though- but its all the same!

  4. You would miss Quills, you secret Christian. Be ashamed of yourself.


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