Explaining Southern California's economy

Coffee in the workplace: Who drinks the most?

Coffee-Job

Ryoko Iwata

Coffee. It's what America drinks when it drinks at work.

Ryoko Iwata — who runs the aptly named "I Love Coffee" site — put togetther the nifty chart above that breaks down the yearly Dunkin' Donuts/CareerBuilder survey of coffee consumption in the workplace. 

The revelation here is that...there is no revelation! Those jobs that one might think would require a lot of coffee intake — do! Writers, professors, and finacial professionals all make the top ten. Also, according to the survey, nearly half of U.S. workers say that without coffee, the economy would grind (Hah! Get it?) to a halt.

However, as Iwata herself points out, "IT workers, such as programmers and web designers, weren't on this list." Her commenters quickly pointed out that computer geeks get their caffeine from other, non-coffee sources. That sounds about right.

I completely sold on the "six cups of coffee a day will keep you from being dead" argument. I should probably work some water in there, but really, it's a lot more fun to drink coffee. Now if I could just score one of the mega-mugs with a new KPCC logo that we dispensed during our last pledge drive...

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Dunkin' Donuts: The return to California, by the numbers

dunkin' donuts to california

Photo by Qfamily via Flickr Creative Commons

Is this a match for Starbucks in California?

There haven't been any actual Dunkin' Donuts stores in California since the 1990s, but that's all about to change. This isn't you father's Dunkin' Donuts. This is a whole new, amped-up, recently IPO'd and private-equity enabled Dunkin' Donuts. Not a cheerful place to stop in for a delicious coffee and and sticky ring of fried dough, but Starbucks worst nightmare.

Dunkin' Donuts, which has become something of a hipster alternative to 'Bucks, has almost no presence west of the Mississippi. However, following its $400 million initial public offering last year, it's putting itself under pressure to grow. Understandably, given that it's stock price has bumped along in a narrow trading range since its successful debut (it came out at $19 and has lived reliably above that ever since). But it's trading at 100 times earnings (not unusual for a newly IPO'd company), which means that investors are expecting this sucker to go someplace.

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Starbucks 'Barbucks' to serve alcohol, Southern California will be sipping beer and wine

Customers queue for coffee at Starbucks

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Ready for your Pinot Grande? Starbucks, the giant coffee retailer, has been undertaking a transformational experiment for the past two years. Back in 2010, on its home turf in Seattle, it began serving beer and wine and premium food in a setting that was meant to evoke a soothing nighttime experience more than a peppy morning wakeup call. 

Now "Barbucks" is coming to the Southland. We don't yet know how many locations will serve alcohol along with caffeine, but we do know that the option will be available — and that Starbucks will be charging more-or-less typical prices. Wines will range from $7-9 a glass, while beer will clock in at a fairly modest $5.

We already know that Starbucks can print money, so to speak, by transforming coffee beans, milk, syrup, and other ingredients into $4 and $5 beverages. The beauty of wine and beer is that it requires much less labor to serve than producing a latte.

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Starbucks price hike: You will pay 10 cents more for your latte!

But only if you live in the Northeast or the "Sunbelt." Southern California will be spared. For now.

I hate to admit this, but I missed the spike in coffee bean prices in 2011. The commodity is now up 42 percent on the five-year average, according to Bloomberg (which also provided the video report on Starbucks that I've embedded above).

Why do I hate to admit this? Because I can't live without coffee. I guess the issue here is that I've been drinking such el cheapo coffee for the past year that I didn't notice. I certainly wasn't closely following the coffee futures market.

Now, I suppose you could take the 10-cent Starbucks price increase, on beverages like lattes and brewed java, as the perfect opportunity to do what those pop personal-finance folks are always counseling you to do, particularly at the beginning of a new year: Quit buying lattes at Starbucks and start investing your savings. 

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