Seattleite Book Club: February 2012

Dear Seattleite Readers,

Welcome to the Seattleite Book Club – the only virtual book club that spotlights the Pacific Northwest’s own authors and publishers!

Last month we featured “Left Coast Libations, The Art of West Coast Bartending: 100 Original Cocktails” by Ted Munat wit Michael Lazar and Photography by Jenn Farrington.

The coffee table read and helpful recipe book is a tribute to some of the world’s finest bartenders, listing a good number from our very own Seattle bars! Isabel Cole, one of our readers and Munat’s sister, says, “When I picked up the book and started reading it, I read it from cover to cover in one sitting. Ted has always had a great sense of humor and he makes the topic interesting no matter your skill level. It is a wonderful coffee table book, but also a great “cookbook” for those who want to create the complete dinner package.”

February Selection: Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul, by Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon.

“I always say that Starbucks is at its best when we are creating enduring relationships and personal connections. It’s the essence of our brand, but not simple to achieve,” Schultz writes. He isn’t single, so he can hardly be called a ‘catch’ for this month’s Ultimate Catch theme on Seattleite, but he’s definitely intriguing and inspiring with his latest book, “Onward.”

None of us are strangers to the economic crisis, and many of us Seattleites are familiar with the crisis Starbucks experienced beginning in early 2007 and through 2008. But reading the story step-by-step, detail-by-detail, “Onward” really provides a deep look into Starbucks’ experience of the economic meltdown with us, alongside their customers was an interesting experience.

“There’s a special relationship millions have developed with our brand, our people, our stores, and our coffee. Preserving that relationship is an honorable but enormous responsibility,” he writes.

My own relationship with Starbucks began in the early 1990s, when my family moved from the Seattle area to a suburban neighborhood a few hours from Washington D.C. in Virginia. I remember my dad complaining for the lack of Starbucks in the area, and when one opened about a year after our move there, he was ecstatic. Starbucks has grown on me as a trusted staple when it comes to coffee, even if their service has lacked on occasion or their espresso drawn wrong – I can always find at least one Starbucks near me that has excellent service and espresso. After all, there’s practically one on every corner of downtown Seattle!

Schultz’s straightforward, clear tone of the book makes it easy to read and also to understand Schultz’s moves and thoughts during that tumultuous time. With regard to his efforts to transform the company (doing things unheard of in the world of food and retail, such as closing all of his North American stores for a full day to re-train every barista and manager), Schultz is a really dynamic persona, full of passion and determination, and that shows through in “Onward.”

By becoming the undisputed coffee authority, initiating customer attachment and loyalty, expanding global presence, leading the market in ethical coffee sourcing, and delivering a sustainable economic model for Starbucks, the company realized its focus on what Schultz wrote: “its foundation as well as innovation and would emerge from the crisis in a position of strength.” Starbucks stock closed up almost 400 percent in December 2010 than it had two years earlier.

“Onward” is available for $17 on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble.