Starbucks Prospers by Keeping Pace With the Coffee Snobs
Common Sense By JAMES B. STEWARTDecember 8, 2015
生活JAMES B. STEWART2015年12月8日
Sam Hodgson for The New York Times
Angus Maxwell, 27, works in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He describes himself as an “installation and performance artist” and is a member of the Boom! Theater Company. He grew up in Seattle and wears a beard and wire-rim glasses.
27岁的安格斯·马克斯韦尔(Angus Maxwell)在布鲁克林的威廉斯堡工作。他自称“装置艺术和行为艺术家”，是Boom剧团(Boom! Theater Company)的一员。他在西雅图长大，留着胡子，戴着金属镜架眼镜。
He’s also a barista for what must be among the most discerning coffee clientele in the country, where boutique roasters like Blue Bottle and Toby’s Estate dominate the neighborhood. This week he brewed me a cup of “small lot” coffee — Nicaragua El Suyatal (“notes of hazelnut and caramel with a malty sweetness”) — while describing the distinctive flavor profiles of beans from Tanzania to Hawaii.
他也是咖啡师，为美国最有鉴赏力的咖啡客户服务。在美国，蓝瓶咖啡馆(Blue Bottle)和Toby’s Estate等精品咖啡馆在社区占主导地位。本周，他为我冲了一杯小份量咖啡——尼加拉瓜El Suyatal咖啡（“榛子、焦糖搭配麦芽的甜味”）——同时给我讲述从坦桑尼亚到夏威夷的各种咖啡豆的独特风味。
Mr. Maxwell doesn’t work for another artisanal upstart, butStarbucks. He’s the assistant store manager at the chain’s spacious year-old location on Williamsburg’s Seventh Street, and has worked for the company for nearly five years.
Howard D. Schultz, Starbucks’s chief executive, told me this week that it’s people like Mr. Maxwell who explain the company’s success, which has dazzled investors. In a year in which the S.&P. 500-stock index has been flat, Starbucks shares have surged more than 50 percent, making it one of the market’s best performers. Last month, Starbucks reported record revenue of $4.9 billion and earnings of just under $1 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015, both double-digit percentage gains over the previous year.
本周（11月29日至12月5日），星巴克的首席执行官霍华德·D·舒尔茨(Howard D. Schultz)对我说，这家公司之所以取得令投资者惊叹的成功，靠的正是马克斯韦尔这样的人。今年，标准普尔500(S.&P. 500)的股票指数平平，但是星巴克的股票却猛涨50%多，成为股市上表现最好的股票之一。上个月（11月），星巴克的收入达到历史性新高49亿美元，2015财政年第四季度的收入接近10亿美元，同比上一年都获得两位数的增长。
“Our brand equity is built on our customers’ experience, and that depends on the quality of our people,” Mr. Schultz said. Starbucks prides itself on its care for “partners,” the noun it prefers to employees. It pays higher wages, offers health insurance even to part-time workers and pays college tuition for thousands of eligible employees. Starbucks employee turnover is relatively low, yielding benefits in efficiency and morale.
Still, the company’s labor practices have come under scrutiny for its inconsistent and inconvenient work hours. The Starbucks Workers Union mounts periodic protests, and in September some workers demonstrated over scheduling practices.
不过，这家公司因工作时间不连贯、不方便而遭到审查。星巴克工会(Starbucks Workers Union)经常进行抗议，今年9月，有些员工为排班制度而进行游行。
Mr. Schultz has also been criticized for his broader utopian ambitions. Earlier this year, Starbucks was derided for encouraging baristas to write the phrase “Race Together” on customers’ coffee cups to stir a discussion of racial issues. Mr. Schultz makes no apologies for speaking out on political and social issues. “From the beginning, we set out to build a company designed to balance profit with conscience, benevolence and social impact,” he told me.
Starbucks’s strong financial performance seems all the more remarkable considering that the retail sector is struggling, and that the company had seemed to have lost its way when Mr. Schultz rejoined it in 2008. But last year, same-store comparable sales grew 8 percent, not just in growth markets like China and Japan, but in the United States. “They’ve defied everyone’s expectations, especially for a business this mature,” said Sara Senatore, who covers Starbucks as an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.
考虑到目前整个零售业在艰难挣扎，而且2008年舒尔茨再次加入该公司后似乎迷失了方向，所以这几年星巴克强劲的经济表现显得更加引人注目。去年，同店可比销售额增长了8%，而且不只是在中国和日本等成长型市场，还包括在美国。盛博公司(Sanford C. Bernstein)对星巴克进行分析的萨拉·塞纳托雷(Sara Senatore)说：“他们超乎所有人的预料，尤其对这样一个成熟的公司来说。”
And rather than cede the high end to competitors like Stumptown, Blue Bottle or Intelligentsia, Starbucks took them on. It unveiled last year the Roastery & Tasting Room, a 15,000-square-foot showplace in Seattle, which Mr. Schultz described as “a magic carpet ride of coffee, theater and romance.” Starbucks is developing the Roastery as a separate premium brand, and it is no less than “the future of the company,” Mr. Schultz said.
星巴克没有把高端市场让给树墩城(Stumptown)、蓝瓶或Intelligentsia咖啡馆，而是与它们进行较量。去年，星巴克在西雅图开设了一个占地1.5万平方英尺（约合1393平方米）的Roastery & Tasting Room展厅，舒尔茨形容它是“一张承载咖啡、戏剧和浪漫的魔毯”。舒尔茨说，星巴克想把Roastery发展成独立的优质品牌，称它是“这家公司的未来”。
It’s too soon to know if the rest of the world is ready for what several reviewers described as the Disneyland of coffee, where single cups brewed from rare beans can top $10 and baristas lead groups through “flights” of small-lot coffees, much like a wine tasting. But he said results had exceeded expectations and the company plans to roll out Roasteries in a few major markets, with New York high on its list.
Starbucks locations like Williamsburg feature the Roastery’s “reserve” coffees, and the company is looking to open as many as 1,000 of these reserve cafes over the next few years. My cup of Nicaraguan was $4 for a 12-ounce cup, and Mr. Maxwell hand-brewed it using Starbucks’s trademarked Clover brewing system, featuring “innovative vacuum-press technology.” I don’t claim to be a connoisseur, but it was remarkably good. And for $4, it should be.“They have to invest and stay ahead of these trends and remind people they were there first,” said Ms. Senatore, who pointed out that Starbucks’s size gives it an edge in securing the best beans. “They can do what the smaller competitors can’t.”
The luxury coffee market has become crowded, as a stroll through the Brooklyn neighborhood makes clear. But Mr. Schultz said Starbucks could happily coexist with other high-end roasters. “Williamsburg is emblematic of some of our most successful locations,” Mr. Schultz said. “Typically there’s some mild protest that people don’t want us to come in until after we get there and exceed expectations. The higher the quality coffee in any area, the better for us, because people get educated. New York City is competitive. London is competitive. Those are some of our best markets.”
Starbucks has also been a pioneer in mobile payments, something that many retailers are just beginning to adopt. With 16 million users and a generous rewards-loyalty program, the company’s phone app — which was unveiled just two years ago in some test markets — accounts for about 21 percent of all transactions at company-owned stores in the United States.
Starbucks has begun enabling its app users to order and pay in advance, and will also start offering delivery service. “For a company where people are put off by long lines or don’t have time to wait, this is a game changer,” said Ms. Senatore.
(McDonald’s, by comparison, introduced its mobile app just this summer. And notably, Starbucks’s stock market value is fast approaching that of McDonald’s — the burger giant’s market capitalization is $105 billion; Starbucks’s is $91 billion.)
Wall Street analysts say that the fruits of both the Roastery concept and the enhanced mobile payments strategy could soon start to show up in the company’s financial results.
“You can come up with a pretty compelling argument for continued growth through 2020,” said Karen Holthouse, an analyst who covers fast food and casual restaurants for Goldman Sachs. “I don’t think there’s another company this size where you can say they’re going to grow earnings by 15 percent a year and be this confident about it.”
高盛集团(Goldman Sachs)的快餐和休闲餐馆分析师卡伦·霍尔特霍斯(Karen Holthouse)说：“有充分的理由相信，这样的增长会持续至2020年。我可不认为还有此等规模的公司，令人信心十足地说能保持每年15%的增长。”