Living in Starbucks’ Shadow

Riffing off the famed post that you can’t be further than 107 miles from the closest McDonalds in America, Jim Davenport crunched the data on Starbucks to determine the farthest one can get from the ubiquitous coffee shop is approximately 170 miles. But, that’s just a jumping off point for a more cogent examination of the role the coffee chain plays in America:

By counting the number of people who live within a given distance to each Starbucks, we can measure how well centered Frappuccinos are to the US citizenry. In other words: draw a 1-mile circle around every store, then add up the % of the population living within the circles. Repeat for 2, 3, 4….100 miles. What I found left my jaw hanging.

There are ~311 million people living in the USA, with 82% living in urbanized areas. One might define urbanization in the modern era as the distance to the nearest Starbucks. An “urban” environment would therefore be anyplace within a 20 mile radius. Yes, more than 80% of the USA (that’s 250,000,000 people) live within 20 miles of a Starbucks.

That’s fairly astounding, but not entirely surprising. I guess this really does mean that Starbucks is at the center of our urbanized life. And it’s about to get worse, with the company testing out a modular, pop-up kiosk version of its store (seen above in Colorado) that can be deployed and set up rapidly. [via andrewsullivan]

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