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August 2011

Colbie Calliat, California Girl

A couple of weeks back, I posted something here about Bon Iver’s Jason Vernon – a product of my home state of Wisconsin and, in many ways, a reflection of that part of the country. The guy wrote an album’s worth of songs while holed up in his father’s far-north hunting cabin, after all.

Colbie Calliat is another rising star whose sound very much reflects her upbringing. Calliat’s appearance and music have sun-kissed qualities one associates with the California coast and, indeed, she was born in Malibu. Her father, producer/engineer Ken Calliat, played a vital role in shaping some of the records that define the California sound, notably Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.

The singer-songwriter initially caused a stir as a MySpace phenomenon, which led to 2007’s Coco, her hit debut album. Which was followed by 2009’s Breakthrough, another big seller. Which brings us to the brand-new All of You.

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Stories and Songs from The Help

Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel, The Help, movingly portrayed the stories of African-American maids in 1960s-era Jackson, Miss., through the perspectives of three different female protagonists. It’s since been turned into a pleasing, feature-length motion picture (opening August 10th) filled with strikingly good performances. Emma Stone (Easy A, Crazy, Stupid, Love), Viola Davis (Doubt, Eat Pray Love) and Octavia Spencer (Seven Pounds, Flypaper) are the leads and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit to see any one of them get award nominations. Add in some great turns from fellow actresses Allison Janney (The West Wing, Juno) and Bryce Dallas Howard (Eclipse, Spider-Man 3) and you have a formidable film that’s as enjoyable to watch as it is great counter-programming to yet another summer filled with superhero and kid-oriented blockbusters.

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Namaste, Assam!

We recently went to India to visit some of our tea suppliers in Assam and Darjeeling and we wanted to send a brief update from the road.

Assam is a region in eastern India. The teas from this region provide the strong, brisk and malty flavor in our Tazo® Awake™ tea and the spicy masala flavor of Tazo® Chai Tea Latte.

The minute you get off the airplane in Dibrugarh, you are hit with the hot, humid temperatures of the region. The combination of terroir and hot, humid weather unite to create the Assam tea flavor we are so familiar with.

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The New StarbucksStore.com is Here!

The new StarbucksStore.com

My team and I have been hard at work for many months building a new and improved StarbucksStore.com for you. We’re thrilled to announce that it’s finally here!

One thing we think you’ll be really excited about is lower and easier shipping rates – just $3 for Standard UPS Ground shipping on orders in the contiguous United States.

We still carry all your favorite Starbucks® products – coffee, tea, mugs and tumblers. Plus we have unique items you can only find on StarbucksStore.com like Cold Cup Straws and Domed Cold Cup Lids (thanks to your great ideas at MyStarbucksIdea.com). We’ve also expanded our assortment of brewing equipment, including espresso machines, grinders, drip coffee makers and more.

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Reimagining Japan

Throughout history, Japan has shown a remarkable capacity to rebound from disasters. It is already well on its way to recovery from the triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown that struck in March 2011. The recent captivating win by the Japanese team in the Women’s World Cup was a notable example of the country’s spirit and resilience (even if it did come at the expense of a very talented American team). And there have been countless examples of heroism reported in the weeks and months since the tragedies.

Still, these tragedies came at a crucial juncture for Japan, as the nation struggles with a difficult economy, an aging population, shrinking workforce, deflation, soaring public debt and a loss of competitiveness.

Starbucks has been an active participant in Japan since we opened our first store there in 1996. In fact, next month we will celebrate our 15th anniversary in the country with more than 900 stores. 

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Zee Avi, from Z to A

New musical artists aren’t anything new around here.

Yes, we like to bring major new releases into Starbucks, like the latest from Barbra Streisand. Then there are our compilations, which we assemble with the goal of helping music fans discover classic artists and songs. But the third vital front for our music team is giving a boost to worthy developing artists you’ve probably never encountered before.

A few years back, some folks here took a chance on a hard-to-classify singer named Madeleine Peyroux and she proved to be a hit with all of you. Something similar happened with Feist (watch for her new album in October), Corinne Bailey Rae and the Avett Brothers, among many others.

Now add to the list Zee Avi, whose tuneful, multihued sophomore release, Ghostbird, is in our stores starting August 23.

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Get Ready for Muppet Mania

Get ready for a Muppets onslaught beginning right about now.

Stage two is the opening of a new Muppets movie, which will arrive in theaters around Thanksgiving. The teasers are terrific (“The Fuzzy Pack is Backy Back!”) and, like past screen productions (it’s been 12 years since the last Muppets movie), it’s loaded with big-name cameos.

First, however, is stage one, which is marked by the arrival of Muppets: The Green Album, an all-star compilation of classic material associated with the puppet characters. You’ve got OK Go kicking things off with the “Muppet Show Theme Song,” followed by the likes of Weezer, My Morning Jacket and Rachael Yamagata putting their spin on some songs that have demonstrated genuine staying power.

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