I am impressed by Starbucks, not because of how good their coffee is, but in the way they package the whole experience. It starts with walking in Starbucks and being greeted by the Barrista. The warm colors and comfortable relaxing sofas tempt you to sink in them. The different Coffee selections have foreign names like Machiato, Latte, Frapuccino, cup sizes are in Italian. Ordering your coffee makes you feel like you are buying something exotic like a Lamborghini sports car or Bulgari jewellry.
You pay 1 KD (around $3) for your Latte and sit down to sip it, listening to the smooth jazz music being piped all over the Coffee shop.
Effectively, what you just bought was hot milk with coffee, which you could prepare at home by heating some milk and adding two spoons of Nescafe instant coffee, costing you around 100 fils (30 cents) or less.
I am not complaining, I still drink Starbucks and other coffees and happily pay the 1 KD or more for the experience. I am simply in awe by how they are able to sell me and others and we gladly come back for more. I thought no one else could beat those smart people at Starbucks.
Well, I had a heavy dinner at a Lebanese restaurant yesterday, after the dinner was over, the Lebanese waiter offered some sweets and white coffee (ahwa bayda). I never tried white coffee before. I thought it would be some light colored coffee beans from the green hills of Lebanon. The waiter came back with cups and a kettle. I poured the white coffee and what I got was flower scented hot water.
I thought no one could beat Starbucks in packaging and selling overpriced coffee, well I was wrong. Those ancient Phoenicians traders did. My hat off (or rather ghutra) to all the Lebanese. I will go again to that same Lebanese restaurant just to order white coffee.