Will a $3.95 breakfast at Starbucks change your morning?

The price is listed, it's true, but the marketing is all about the taste. "Hello to a new day," say chalked signs in Starbucks outlets everywhere. In my corner Starbucks, it's the Bacon Artisan Sandwich and Tall Pike Place Roast that are marketed on the homey sign.

I picked the "delightful combination made with a Parmesan egg frittata, three slices of Black Forest ham, and mild cheddar on a perfectly-baked hand-shaped artisan roll," or ham & egg sandwich, but the chain is also offering pairings of a tall latte with either a "perfect oatmeal" or a piece of coffee cake for the same price: $3.95.


Today was the launch of Starbucks' breakfast pairings (we know 'em as "value meals"), announced a few weeks ago to much fanfare and derision. A new day indeed. As the New York Times notes, the company is walking a fine line; will it manage to both attract consumers who have been scared off by the "four bucks" rep (and woo back consumers who've left for cheaper prices, sweeter and more flavorful coffee drinks, and less attitude at McDonald's), and at the same time persuade those who choose Starbucks for its higher quality, more Italian-themed food offerings?

As I write this, I'm eating my Black Forest Ham Artisan Sandwich, and I have to say: it's good. The price isn't bad. And I'd order it again (which is saying a lot, as I'm a bit of a food snob and have backyard chickens, to whose eggs I typically restrict my family's diet). Starbucks' other "value" launch, which was announced February 17, is VIA instant coffee and is less of a win. Though many WalletPoppers proclaimed the taste to be "good." But at about a dollar for a package that makes eight ounces of coffee, the price of the product is a push with its brewed offerings
(a tall coffee is 12 ounces, and goes for $1.50 to $1.75), and is only notable for its convenience.

Surprisingly, I think Starbucks will eke out a win with the breakfast pairings. It won't do a great job in switching dedicated McDonald's customers, though it might find a few bargain seekers who are on border. And existing Starbucks customers will be encouraged to order breakfast with their coffee; after all, it's not even "four bucks."


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