Starbucks Coffee has spent the last decade squandering away whatever market leadership they had in the world of quality coffee, and it’s no secret that they are now trying to regain some of these losses. But to do so in recent months, Starbucks has bizarrely looked to McDonald’s for inspiration: introducing $1 “daily coffee”, free refills, and their Pike Place Blend (the latter of which has become a source of disingenuous product marketing).

But even if you can forgive them for that McMisstep towards regaining some coffee leadership, turning to the likes of 7-Eleven and their fortified coffee drinks is even more bewildering: Energy Examiner – Starbucks to increase their caffeine content in coffee shops – Examiner.com (also, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Starbucks hopes new drinks can lift profits).

Yes, Starbucks’ desperation has now led them to co-opting 7-Eleven’s coffee strategy, which is about the lowest common coffee denominator you can get. Starting this week, Starbucks has begun selling “+Energy as a special ingredient in their coffee drinks,” which includes “extra B-vitamins, guarana and ginseng” — all things 7-Eleven promoted in their Fusion Energy Coffee over a year ago. By stooping to “healthy coffee” pandering pioneered by the “sophisticated” Super Big Gulp® purveyor, Starbucks is only further debasing their brand as just another commodity. Can Starbucks-branded Slim Jims be far behind?

UPDATE: June 2, 2008
It’s not often we’re inspired to link to citations in GQ Magazine, but this rant on Starbucks’ current sad state is an absolute winner: OPEN LETTER – Dear Starbucks – GQ Articles, Fashion Features, and Pics on men.style.com. We particularly liked, “When we’re in the mood for a twenty-four-ounce cup of pumpkin-pie-flavored Cool Whip… Here’s the thing, though: We’re never, ever in that mood.”