With it's profits down 97% and recession blanketing the country like cappuccino foam, Starbucks knows it needs to do something new. What'll we see in '09?
1. THE STARBUCKS GRAY CARD
Unlike the company's new gold card that, for $25 a year, encourages users to actually buy more overpriced drinks and get some sort of discount, the gray card acknowledges the truth: You're not there for the grande Frappucinos anymore. You're there for the tall coffee and lots of free cream. For 10 bucks a year, you can buy one tall coffee of the day, and no one will hound you out of the store for bringing your own Entenmann's doughnut.
2. FREE DOWNLOAD OF MANAGER'S BAND'S SONGS
In return for salary concessions and the new requirement that all employees sew their own aprons and rinse out any used, undented cups, the manager's creativity is celebrated by the store.
3. BOTTOMLESS COFFEE MUG
Exactly what it sounds like. Factory seconds. Some missing handles, too.
4. BATHROOM PRIVILEGES
The Starbucks restroom is still free -- with the purchase of a large drink, sandwich and fries. I did mention Starbucks is serving fries now, right?
5. HEATLESS TUESDAYS
You'll appreciate that steaming cup o' joe that much more on Tuesdays from now on!
6. ALTERNATIVE ROCK
As chairs break, Starbucks begins replacing them with an alternative: rocks.
Oatmeal proved a surprise hit in '08, but, as always, breakfast fans soon demanded meat. While some customers complain about the goat smell in the morning, meaty chunks quickly surpass brown sugar and dates as the stir-in of choice.
8. GIVE THE WORLD YOUR FINGER
Teaming up with Bono for its first-ever celebrity endorsement, Starbucks encourages customers to eschew its wooden coffee stirrers in favor of a more reusable alternative.
9. PETE'S PLACE PIKE'S PEAK POKEMON BRING-BACK-MY-PROFITS PEEK-A-BREW
Unhinged by spreadsheet shock and desperate for a jazzy new drink name, company CEO Howard Schultz proposes this one. His board, threadbare and shivering, nods along, eager to get to the free-hot-lunch part of the meeting. The new beverage is a huge hit until federal investigators discover the secret ingredient: Dunkin' Donuts coffee.
10. INNOVATE, INNOVATE, INNOVATE
Undaunted at Leavenworth, Schultz comes up with one last-ditch hope for the chain: Starbucks Instant Perk, $1 a cup (with noodles, $2). Pull up a rock, but remember: BYOS (bring your own straw).