Starbucks warms up to average joe

Starbucks' Seattle's Best brand attempts to extend its reach into even more American cupboards with a new line of simplified coffees.

In attempt to win over a larger range of drinkers with varied tastes and buying habits, Starbucks has announced the release of a mid-tier coffee product for the uncomplicated coffee drinker through its brand Seattle's Best.

The new product, equipped with an easy rating system, will be sold in grocery stores and other retailers, and attempts to demystify the coffee buying experience for those who simply want more than a basic cup of joe, but don't care for the intense taste or complex labeling.

The line aims to bring in people who are not habitual coffee drinkers or connoisseurs. With a new packaging concept, the Level System employs a user-friendly number and color system, which is at once simplified and comprehensive.

The line starts at Level 1, which is described as "mild, light and crisp," and goes up to Level 5, which is bold, dark and intense. Distinctly different from Starbucks brand roasts, which are presented by region and tasting note (how intimidating!) and cost nearly double.

The Level System is packaged in a range of bright colors, from pale yellow to a rich purple, compared to the almost industrial packaging of its competitors-Maxwell House and Folgers roasted brews-which are contained in large plastic and aluminum tubs. 

Comparably-priced Folgers Gourmet Selections could be a direct competitor, with its multi-colored and multi-flavored coffee ranging from Caramel Drizzle to Bistro Blend. Priced at approximately $6.50 for a 12-ounce bag, it undercuts Level by about $.50. A one pound bag of Dunkin Donuts Original Blend costs roughly $8 and is a favorite of American coffee drinkers.

"In this category 'simple' is going to be the new 'bold,'" said Michelle Gass, president of Seattle's Best, in a press statement.  "

Currently, there are not plans for any international launch of the product.

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