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Coffee Talk: Starbucks Author Bryant Simon at Changing Hands

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Ever wonder how big name coffee companies convinced the general public to shell out five bucks for a cuppa joe? Author and Temple University Director of American Studies Bryant Simon thinks he has the answer. Simon will sign his latest book Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S. McClintock Rd. in Tempe, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 12.

If you thought your best friend's $50 a week coffee habit was bad, just imagine what Simon had to go through in writing this book. For research, he visited 450 Starbucks locations in 10 countries. But it wasn't just about sampling coffee. Simon does what he calls "reading" the stores -- checking out the decor, promotional materials and product placement to figure out how Starbucks gets repeat business.

For loyal Starbucksians (or whatever they're called), this may be an eye opener. And for the rest of us who prefer indie coffee shops, it just reinforces a lot of what we already suspect. "What does this tell us about America? How do our latte purchases consume laborers (and their bodies), our sense of place, our environment, and even politics?" Simon asks. "Toward the end of the book, I talk about how shoppers are striking back -- how they have left the brand for others companies, often independents, that do a better job at fulfilling the things and desires Starbucks initially promised it would provide."     

The book is available via the Changing Hands website or the Starbucks of bookstores, Amazon.com.

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