Interviewed by Voice of America

Categories: coffee,news,seattle — Tags: , , , , , , — Posted by: Grant @ August 4, 2008 : 1:10 pm

Voice of America Logo

Woo-hoo, Coffee.net is going to have our 15 minutes of international, federally funded fame!

Just this morning, Steve and I were over at the Redmond Town Center by two reporters from Voice of America. The show we were being interviewed for is a weekly half-hour show called “Cultural Odyssey”, which provides glimpses into American life and culture. On this particular show being filmed, the topic is Seattle’s coffee culture, so they decided to contact us as we had a pretty big web visibility.

I agreed to the interview because I am all for publicity for Coffee.net, but also because it was pretty cool to be asked by the VOA. There’s certainly dozens (hundreds, even) of people above us in the coffee pecking order in this city, so it was a surprise to say the least. In fact, Steve and I both took a few hours to brush up on our coffee just to be ready for the interview. I even took to memorizing the odd statistics like the total exports from Brazil and Vietnam from 2000 to 2007 via the ICO (International Coffee Organization) incase we were going to have talks about the coffee crisis, robusta or other industry issues.

In any case, I thought the interview went quite well and we had a good rapport with the VOA reporters. They asked us various questions: the rise of Starbucks, the specialty coffee market, Seattle coffee consumers, the history of coffee in Seattle, how to rate coffee and various items along that line. Steve, being the “coffee as a drink” expert, handled a lot of the culture and connoisseur type questions while I answered the “coffee as an industry” queries.

Having been in front of a camera before, I was pretty at ease blabbering away to our reporters’ questions. Steve was a bit nervous at times and caught himself looking straight at the camera a few times. The only major hiccup we encountered was that right as they setup the filming equipment, the Redmond Town Center manager swooped down impressively fast to tell us that this was private property and filming was not allowed unless paperwork was filled out. To his credit, after talking to the VOA guys, everything got worked out. Joe, one of the reports, said this was fairly routine and joked that they generally don’t have problems after mentioning they’re reporters from the government. I had a good laugh at that, as it could certainly be a tongue-in-cheek reference.

For those who don’t know, VOA is a federally run news organization that has been in operation since the start of WWII. They evolved over the years from the Office of War Information to being under the US Information Agency and now run by a Board of Broadcasting Governors. As a government run news source, you may not be familiar with them, because they tend to serve audiences outside of the US, as their mission is to represent America to the rest of the world. As such, they broadcast in 45 languages over the TV, radio and internet, with a worldwide audience of 134 million people according to their website.

We were told that we would get a DVD of the show when it aired, so we’ll definitely post it up on the blog or the main site when we get it. Supposedly, the team is doing a whole slew of shows on coffee and one of them is also about what is locally known as “Sexpresso”, so perhaps we’ll add in a few clips from that section as well, for your titillating pleasures (bad puns and all).

Howard Schultz, the Sonics savior?

Categories: seattle — Tags: , , , , , , , — Posted by: steveg @ April 11, 2008 : 11:14 am

On the drive to work, Dave Mahler from 950 KJR chimed in on the recent email disclosures of the Sonics ownership. Being the great optimist that he is, he entertained the idea of one person being able to keep the Sonics in the city of Seattle.

No, it’s not Steve Ballmer.

The person Dave “Softy? Mahler is referring to is a villain of sorts in the Seattle sports world. Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO and former majority owner of the team. All of this materialized because of the new emails that exposed the true intentions of Clayton Bennett’s ownership group. Softy brought up Schultz only interview with 950 KJR, where he disclosed some of the conditions of the deal that transferred ownership to Clay Bennett.

Schultz stated in his interview, “As part of the negotiation, I asked for something that was a deal breaker in negotiation. What I asked for was a side letter to our ownership group and to me…that said basically he would honor the four-year lease in terms of the 2010 terms, and use his best efforts over next 12 months…?

Softy is entertaining the idea that the newly revealed emails are a blatant breach of contract by the Sonics ownership group. In Softy’s ideal world, Schultz would sue Bennett’s group for breach of contract and regain ownership of the Sonics, then subsequently sell the team to Ballmer’s local group.

It terms of legal analysis, its not exactly a “slam dunk? case. There are lots of issues that would need to be explored. If Schultz group did entertain the idea of suing for breach of contract, it becomes an issue of determining if substantial performance was fulfilled, whether or not the letter is considered a part of that contract to sell the team, determining if and when Bennett’s group was discharged from its duties to the contract, and defining the concept of “good faith? in this particular situation.

Since the $350 million has already exchanged hands, Bennett’s group can merely take the stance of substantial performance since Schultz group has received a significant amount of what has been asked for by Bennett.

If in some off way, and that’s being extremely optimistic, Schultz is able to be a major cog in retaining the Sonics in Seattle, he would be able to climb out of the black hole that many Seattle-ites have thrown him into.

Of course, the idea of Schultz being the Sonics Savior is a little to hard to swallow for most fans. Maybe Softy is merely entertaining conjectures, but with the light so dim in the Sonics nations all options are starting to look like good ones.

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