In Tough Times, Coffee Chains Drink Change

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Combo meals at Starbucks? Say it isn't so. The coffee chain, like everyone else, is doing what it can to stay afloat in this economy and that means big changes.

Coffee conisseurs look down their noses at instant coffee. So why is Starbucks, the gold-standard of coffee snobbery, now selling instant? In a word: price.

"The economy is in the toilet. They're just doing what they can to keep up with what people can afford," Matt Kellogg, Starbucks customer said.

It's called Via and it's $1 a cup. But wait, there's more.

When the economy started going south, McDonald's made a play for Starbucks customers by offering cheaper gourmet coffee. Now Starbucks is fighting back by not only offering less expensive coffee, but also by introducing breakfast value meals to go. Coffee and an egg sandwich, oatmeal or coffee cake goes for $3.95.

Starbucks is trying to change the perception that they only sell expensive drinks.

"I think they've gone beyond the boutique cafe, the bohemian, artsy place to go and hang out and have a cup of coffee and now it's almost fast-foodish," Jim Maclain, Starbucks customer said.

So unless Starbucks and McDonald's get a government bailout, they'll continue to obey the law of capitalism, which is, in order to stay alive you have to change with the times.

*Originally aired March 13, 2009

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