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November 2010

The Late, Great Solomon Burke

The King of Rock and Soul, Solomon Burke, passed away last month. And though his passing was acknowledged by major media outlets, it didn’t generate the kind of notice that comes with the death of a superstar. That’s not surprising given that, where sales are concerned, his heyday was nearly a half-century ago. But Burke was the kind of artist whose impact is gauged less in quantifiable sales rank than in enduring influence and plain old good times generated.

And he was one of the greats! No less an authority than legendary producer/label exec Jerry Wexler called him the greatest soul singer of them all – and Wexler worked with Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin.

Burke experienced a bit of a bump in 2002 with the Joe Henry-produced Don’t Give Up on Me, a critically hailed album featuring songs provided by admirers ranging from Bob Dylan to Tom Waits, Elvis Costello to Van Morrison. (A track from that album appears on the Starbucks compilation Lifted: Songs of the Spirit.)

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My Starbucks Idea’s 100,000th Idea

Thank you everyone for sharing ideas at  This week we received our 100,000th idea – Introduce a Healthy Cookie posted by cecileatcecile.  In celebration of this milestone, we’re sending cecileatcecile a Starbucks Card loaded with $100.  We continue to look to you for inspiration and ways to make Starbucks a better experience for you.

What do you think of this idea?  MSI is a place to share ideas and build on other’s ideas.  We encourage you to look at the root of the idea.  Would you like to see a healthy cookie at Starbucks?  What do you think makes a cookie healthy?  Join the discussion. 

Keep the ideas coming, we’re listening!

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Good Books on the Starbucks Digital Network


The first few weeks since the launch of the Starbucks Digital Network in partnership with Yahoo! have been very exciting, with interest growing every day. I hope you’re enjoying this special enhancement to your Internet experience in our stores.

There’s something about the coffeehouse environment that invites reading, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight a couple of the interesting literary offerings on the network.
Bookish Reading Club gives you free access to four new books for two weeks at a time, chosen from leading publishers. This is your chance to pre-read a favorite author before making a purchase decision, and it’s exclusive to Starbucks. Some recent selections include new works from three of my favorite mystery writers: Dennis Lehane, Robert B. Parker and Stuart Woods. There will be many other good fiction and non-fiction titles as well.

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Thanksgiving Blend Fit for a Feast

A little more than three years ago, I found myself sitting in the private dining room of a well-known and much-loved Seattle restaurant. With me around the table were an iconic Seattle restaurateur, one of his executive chefs, three coffee experts and a host of people just happy to be there. (As the product manager for the yet-to-be-introduced Thanksgiving Blend, I was one of those.)

We had narrowed our search for the perfect coffee to accompany arguably the year’s most important dinner to two amazing blends. Our mission was simple, yet daunting: drink coffee, eat an amazing Thanksgiving feast, talk about the coffee and select the next great Starbucks blend.

As we explored the feast and sipped the coffee, each of the blends seemed to change with every bite.

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I’m Dreaming of Cranberry Bliss® Bar

I love the holiday season: snow-capped mountains, a busy shopping mall packed with shoppers and all the yummy traditions that go along with the season. And every year my taste buds eagerly await my aunt’s sugar cookies, shaped like stars and trees, and topped with delectable frosting and occasionally the crunchy sprinkle or two.

While my aunt makes more every season, they still go too fast – and I always find myself wanting just one more. I just tell myself you have to enjoy it while you can!

The same goes for our returning Cranberry Bliss® Bar – everyone’s favorite traditional delight is returning for its 13th year beginning today.

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As Heard on TV


By now you may well have come across a merry, little Starbucks commercial set in an urban park, where kites shaped like snowflakes dot the sky. The soundtrack to the spot comes from the indie-pop band matt pond PA.

“Snow Day” is the opening track from the group’s 2005 EP Winter Songs, a collection of seven originals and covers inspired by those days when the sun sets early and the sweaters come out. It’s a lovely, cozy set well worth checking out, particularly if you’ve fallen under the spell of those mesmerizing kites in the commercial.

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Norah Jones’s Feature Presentation

Norah Jones became very famous in 2002.

That was the year her debut, Come Away with Me, became a hit. Although the word “hit” is really something of an understatement. The album has sold in the neighborhood of 22.5 million copies. To put that in perspective, the Recording Industry Association of America’s highest certification is Diamond, topping Gold, Platinum and Multi-Platinum. Only one album has achieved Diamond status since 2004 – Usher’s Confessions. Jones’s debut is Double Diamond … and then some!

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Lovely Weather for a Sleigh Ride Together

Before I began writing liner notes for our annual holiday compilations, I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to the likes of “White Christmas” and “The Christmas Song.” I gravitated toward left-field fare like the Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York" (still a favorite) or Yogi Yorgesson’s “I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas” (I grew up around a lot of Norwegians). The CDs I assemble annually for friends and family mostly avoid the familiar stuff in favor of, oh, say, Butterbeans & Susie’s “Papa Ain’t No Santa Claus (And Mama Ain’t No Christmas Tree)” or Lord Beginner’s “Christmas Morning the Rum Had Me Yawning.” 

I still hunt for Yuletide oddities this time of year. (Any suggestions?), But now, thanks to the series of Timothy Jones–produced seasonal albums I’ve worked on for Starbucks – like this year’s Sleigh Ride Side by Side – I savor traditional holiday fare with equal relish.

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