“This fall, Square will begin processing all credit and debit card transactions at Starbucks stores in the United States,” reports the New York Times, referring to the small mobile payments device that allows credit cards to be swiped by smartphones and tablets. Now, coffee behemoth Starbucks will help kill off cash registers (and perhaps cash) but adopting the system, which was created by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
This begs the question, is Starbuck’s adoption of Square a conflict of interest for Dorsey, Square’s CEO and an investor in San Francisco artisanal coffee house Sightglass Coffee?
The hip SOMA cafe specializes in single cup, pour-over coffee and is functionally a retort to the commodification of coffee as practiced by Starbucks. Sightglass would boast the slogan “We put the ‘mug’ in ‘smug’” if it weren’t for the fact that the coffee actually delivers and is leagues beyond that of the five Starbucks within three blocks of it.
Will this amount to Dorsey’s own Blackwater scandal? And by “blackwater” I literally mean the brackish swill served by Starbucks? In a word, no, because Dorsey is a technologist not a barista and like the inveterate inventors depicted science fiction, they always know what’s better for humanity, right?. Until, of course, their creation turns on everyone and threatens to destroy the world. Fortunately, in the motion picture of this worse case scenario, some plucky, heroine barista and her besotted tech geek customer-turned-love-interest will help save the day by turning off the “Square Grid” or something, thus preventing the world from succumbing to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s plan to supply an army of caffeinated super-zombies to the military (it’s in their Annual Report).
It brings to mind what the Beats said of the demise of their own coffee culture, “It was better before all these squares showed up.” I personally am inspired by the utility of the Square and of coffee in general. Don’t be surprised if you see me on the corner with a hot plate and an iPad taking coffee orders – the revolution starts from the grounds up.