As an uncanny segue from my post yesterday, today’s Akron Beacon Journal published an article on the growing difficulties independent coffee houses face with increased competition: Beacon Journal | 06/03/2006 | Competition puts coffee shops through grinder.

Between ever-expanding mega-chains and a more crowded field of local independents, local coffee shops are being squeezed more than ever … just as consumer interest in espresso drinks is peaking. Differentiation is becoming all the more critical for the survival of these independents.

This is, of course, not exactly bad news for coffee consumers. It continues the Starbucks-effect of driving the quality of niche vendors ever higher. Meanwhile, better coffee continues to become more readily available.