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Will the World Grow Weary of Starbucks’s Unstoppable Growth?

Ok, now this is just surreal. We’ve all heard the jokes about how there is a Starbucks on every street corner, and we know that statement is funny because it is (almost) true.

Everywhere you turn, no matter where you are, you’ll see that green and white logo—beside the gas station, across from your florist, atop the dog groomer’s studio. Starbucks simply appears out of nowhere, like Michael Meyers in Halloween.

But the world is, apparently, not enough: The Seattle-based coffee chain and global caffeine kingpin just announced plans to open 3,000 new stores in the Americas region by 2017, with half of those stores slotted for somewhere in the United States. That is staggering. Where in America is Starbucks going to build 1,500 new shops? And where are all of those customers coming from? Does the US have secret plans to colonize Antarctica? And why weren’t we told?

Capitalism is an American game–and Starbucks is clearly winning in a big way. But will the public reach a saturation point? We recently reported on the price shock of the new $7 ‘grande’ cup of Geisha varietal coffee. For those of us on a budget, that total just seems absurd. It would appear, however, that America and the rest of the world can’t get enough of Starbucks–the brand plans to have more than 20,000 retail stores on six continents (sorry Antarctica) by 2014.

Across the globe Starbucks is becoming to beverages what soccer is to sports—except Starbucks is also wildly popular in America. As PR professionals, we can’t help but speculate on the tipping point: When, if ever, will the brand peak? Yes, the public is hooked on the taste of Starbucks coffee, the feel of the stores and the brand’s ethical values, but sometimes there can be too much of a good thing.

After all, how many times have you made plans to meet friends at Starbucks and spent an awkward moment waiting for the inevitable question:

“Which one?”

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