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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Starbucks vs. Canyon Café

    Caroline Wright, left, a political science major, and Jaclyn Staub, a biology freshman, sat down to talk over their drinks at Canyon Cafe at the Student Union Memorial Center Thursday. Wright said, Starbucks has a long line every single day and hour.
    Caroline Wright, left, a political science major, and Jaclyn Staub, a biology freshman, sat down to talk over their drinks at Canyon Cafe at the Student Union Memorial Center Thursday. Wright said, ‘Starbucks has a long line every single day and hour.’

    Since Starbucks opened in the UA bookstore at the end of the summer, UA students seeking their coffee fix have been faced with the choice of supporting a corporate juggernaut or continuing to stick with the ‘little guy’ that is Canyon Café.

    In the end, their choice was irrelevant.

    Erin Armstrong, an English, creative writing and French senior, has been going to Canyon Café in the Student Union Memorial Center since she was a freshman and does not plan on changing that habit, she said.

    “”Everyone I know still goes to (Canyon Café) for the most part,”” Armstrong said. “”Since (my friends and I) are on the more liberal side, we would be less likely to go to Starbucks.””

    Although the two shops seem to be natural business rivals, there is no actual competition between the two coffee chains themselves, said David Galbraith, director of UA Food Services.

    Seattle’s Best Coffee won the bidding war for the right to serve coffee in Canyon Café. As part of the 10-year contract they signed with Seattle’s Best, the UA is not allowed to bring any potential competitors in as campus vendors, unless they are a subsidiary of Seattle’s Best, he added.

    “”Seattle’s Best Coffee allows only for the expansion of that brand or Seattle’s Best partners,”” Galbraith said. “”Starbucks owns Seattle’s Best, making it possible for UA to move forward with Starbucks.””

    Even though Canyon Café is different from Starbucks in name only, Armstrong was surprised at the newfound information.

    “”I try to go to independent coffee shops when I go to coffee shops in Tucson,”” Armstrong said. “”Even if Canyon Café is owned by Starbucks, I’m not initially buying the name.””

    Galbraith said that if the student union wanted to expand and bring in a new coffee shop, it was left with only one option.

    “”The partnership with the bookstore and the Arizona Student Unions made Starbucks possible,”” Galbraith said. “”The campus coffee contract made other coffee providers for the bookstore project impossible.””

    Jon Sussman, an inter-disciplinary studies junior, said that he chooses Starbucks over Canyon Café because he wants to buy from a name he knows he can trust.

    “”If I’m going to get coffee, I will get Starbucks,”” Sussman said. “”I just come here over Canyon Cafe because (Starbucks) is a more prominent name.”” Despite early concerns, both Starbucks and Canyon Café have been able to generate high amounts of revenue by filling different niches and operating at different times, Galbraith said.

    “”Canyon Café is open more hours during the week, an hour earlier and five hours later than Starbucks,”” he said.

    Starbucks is open on the weekends, while Canyon Café is not.

    “”I anticipated that Starbucks would impact a 40 percent decline in revenue for Canyon Café,”” Galbraith said. “”Although it is very early in the semester, to date there has been no decline in sales.””

    So far this semester, Canyon Café has a higher customer count than Starbucks, but Starbucks is generating higher revenue, Galbraith said.

    This difference may be accounted for by the fact that Starbucks often charges a higher price than Canyon Café for the same service.

    A small coffee at Canyon Café is $1.10, while the same item at Starbucks is $1.60; this price difference is relatively common between the two coffee shops.

    Galbraith said that coffee is a big business on the UA campus, and that last year, it generated 3.5 percent of student union food service sales.

    “”In the end, as long as we get our coffee, we are pretty happy,”” Armstrong said.

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