Posted by Stephanie Startz on November 18, 2009 06:20 PM
Starbucks wants to KO the K-cup.
Only six weeks after its vigorous launch of Via instant coffee, Starbucks has announced a new at-home brewing option in partnership with Bosch and the Tassimo beverage machine: T-Discs, available online starting today and in stores Dec. 1, adding two flavors: Starbucks Latte Primo and Starbucks Cappuccino Primo. The T-Discs have been available in Europe since March.
Starbucks promises consumers the same level of quality as the in-store experience, thanks to the Tassimo machine’s ability to read “each encoded disc and adjusts the temperature, brewing time and amount of water to guarantee a great latte or cappuccino.” The retail price for a package of eight beverages is $10.99.
Starbucks believes “the relationship with Tassimo has been a natural fit” for the coffee brand, according to Starbucks' Global Consumer Products U.S vice president, Greg Price.
While K-cups have become a dynamic force for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters bottom line, the analogy between the two coffee companies is poor. Starbucks offers, or allegedly offers, consumers a quality coffee experience. Green Mountain’s positioning is offering a sustainable, fair trade coffee. Green Mountain’s K-cup line offers various roasts of drip coffee, while Starbucks offers lattes and cappuccinos, beverages that should be enjoyed in stores, made by trained baristas.
Starbucks’ T-disc venture is focused on the short term, much like their Via instant coffee. While sales of Via have been promising, as has the reception of T-Discs in Europe, Starbucks still risks watering down their brand perception.
If the cost of staying in business is some brand dilution, their at-home product line may be a necessary evil.