That Time I Got a Cease and Desist From Starbucks

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With all the talk about the new Starbucks location opening up that will serve alcoholic drinks, I think this story is relevant.

Way back in 2001, INeedCoffee published a collection of Espresso Martini recipes. One drink recipe used a Starbucks trademarked name in part of the title. Their lawyers discovered the page two years later and I was ordered to make changes.

I’m not going to spell out the drink, but I think you know what I’m talking about. For the purposes of this post, I’ll substitute the word CRAPPUCCINO for the real beverage name. I complied with their request by renaming the recipe Just like a –frozen iced espresso-based beverage–!

Here is part of the blog I wrote on July 21, 2003.

Even though I’m not supposed to share the contents of this letter, here is a portion that made me laugh.

We are concerned that this portion of your Web site may leave consumers with the false impression that any coffee and ice blended beverage, regardless of its source, complies with the stringent quality control standards that are applied to genuine CRAPPUCCINO beverages.

This is funny for two reasons. First, what moron could possibly mistake a vodka and Bailey’s based drink for a CRAPPUCCINO? Imagine some yokel telling a barista they didn’t put enough liquor in their drink. A CRAPPUCCINO has to have vodka in it, I read it on the Internet! The second reason this is funny is the phrase ‘stringent quality control.’ Our recipe used fresh homeroasted espresso made from a custom blend by Tom of SweetMarias. A CRAPPUCCINO uses stale over-roasted drip coffee which is masked in flavor by massive amounts of sugar. When it comes to quality control, we’ve got them beat.

I wonder what Charbucks is going to do on August 1st when we release our own better version of the CRAPPUCCINO recipe?

On August 1, 2003, we did release a reverse engineered version of their CRAPPUCCINO called An Espresso Based Frozen Drink Recipe. Since we didn’t violate any trademarks, we never again heard from their attorneys.

A Starbucks concern in 2003 was not having their customers believe they were serving alcohol. Now they have a new concept store where they just applied to sell beer and wine. I find this amusing.