Starbucks caves in to refills, sort of
To some people, Starbucks represents all that’s evil about the global economy. The corporation is ruthless and the branches are interchangeable and ubiquitous. However, one can understand the enmity while still appreciating the product. The beverage they sell is still the equal if not superior to that of any other coffee vendor, and in Japan, at least, it’s the only coffee shop chain that guarantees a totally smoke-free environment.
Starbucks’ brand image is based on snobbery to a certain extent, which is quite an accomplishment given how their establishments are literally everywhere. Much of this exclusivity is based on the idea that each frappucino or latte or mocha is special and hand-made. That exclusivity, however, has now been undermined with Starbucks’ One More Coffee policy.
If you buy a Coffee of the Day, in any size, you can receive a refill, either hot or cold, of the same size for only ¥100. All you have to do is show the cashier your receipt for the first coffee. Though Starbucks has had a free refill policy in the U.S. for a while now, in Japan it has always been more limited. The One More Coffee deal was first offered from January to April on an experimental basis, and then last summer for a limited time, probably to counter the McDonald’s threat.
Now they seem to have brought it back for good, or at least that’s what a cashier in Otemachi told us. It’s good all day for the day you bought the first coffee, and, even better, it’s good at any Starbucks; meaning, you can buy a first coffee at one branch and then get a refill later in the day at another one. There appears to be no other restrictions so, in theory, you can even give your receipt to a colleague or friend and they can enjoy the refill. Will this lead to a black market in second-hand receipts?
Yes, that sounds pretty kechi (cheap), we know; but that’s the sort of thought that comes to mind when a company like Starbucks breaks its self-imposed mold and does something unexpected like this. Some will say the deal is less than meets the eye since it doesn’t apply to specialty drinks, only drip coffee, but, for us specialty coffees don’t cut it. If you like coffee, you drink coffee; and you drink it black.