Are Starbucks and Borders destined to become mirror images of each other? Today’s San Diego Union Tribune asks that question in: The latest blend: coffee, movies & books.

You have to wonder about some market extensions and product/service mergers. One of my favorite storefronts to mock is in a dumpy strip mall as you pass through American Canyon, CA — called “Pagers & Footwear”. But the blend between entertainment and coffee is a potent one for companies extending their product lines in either direction.

Does everyone drinking coffee want books and CDs? And does buying media naturally mean, “Would you like a double-tall, four-pump vanilla caramel macchiato with that?”

Wal-Mart and Target seem to think so, as they are also muscling into the coffee trade from the retail entertainment world. In fact, according to my favorite coffee buyer, Alex Mason of Royal Coffee, the availability of Fair Trade, decaffeinated specialty coffee beans is drying up a lot lately. Why? Wal-Mart is buying up the stuff like Hugh Hefner during a Viagra shortage.


UPDATE: January 22, 2006:
If it wasn’t obvious enough that Starbucks is starting to think of itself more as an entertainment company than a coffee company, their recently announced plans to offer MP3 downloads should make things more clear: Starbucks, Citing Music Industry `Chaos,’ Eyes MP3 Downloads


UPDATE: November 12, 2006:
With WiFi networks becoming more common, Starbucks even sees itself in the market of creating a taste-making entertainment channel: There’s more than coffee brewing at Starbucks – Orlando Sentinel : Features There’s more than coffee brewing at Starbucks – Orlando Sentinel : Features.

UPDATE: April 25, 2008
If it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now: Starbucks has jettisoned its music business as it attempts to regain it’s “soul” in its neglected coffee business: Starbucks exits music biz | The Register.