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Tosci's and Avanti Coffee Suit Me Fine, Thank You

Column by Michael K. Chung
Opinion Editor

The month of March has brought along with it the Undergraduate Association elections, March Madness (that is, the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball championships) and spring break. Beyond these events, ice cream and coffee wars have escalated in the Greater Boston area, presenting the potential to bring new flavors and brand names to the coffee and ice cream products that citizens and students of the area have grown accustomed to.

Patrons of The Coffee Connection Incorporated, be aware -- Starbucks Coffee Company of Seattle, Washington has declared that it will buy out the locally based company. In its push to expand its growing venture into the Boston area, Starbucks plans to open stores on Charles and Stuart Streets on April 15. They envision between 70 and 90 stores in the future for the Greater Boston area.

Starbucks has already delved into the Washington, D.C. area successfully, establishing 13 stores within 10 months. It certainly has promising prospects to do well financially since it is reducing its entry risk into the market by taking over its would-be top competitor.

While some may complain of ruthless large-business domination, this is simply a fact of life in the business world. Starbucks' management will most likely see the importance of satisfying their customers' needs and desires if they want to dominate the market.

In other consumer product business, new area-based ice cream specialists hope to offer ice-cream giants Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry's more competition along the coveted and limited freezer-shelf space. In fact, newcomer Belmont Gourmet Creamery will be seen on the shelves of Stop & Shop and Star Market. The relatively new Cape Cod Ice Cream Company anticipates distribution in a major Florida supermarket chain.

Belmont Gourmet Creamery claims to quietly produce 70,000 to 80,000 pints of ice cream per month, offering refined flavors for refined tastes, while Ben & Jerry's produces the same amount in about two hours. This sounds hauntingly familiar to James Koch, of Samuel Adams beer fame: "My special brewing process produces in one year the same amount of beer that the top German import beers produce in two hours."

Sure, whatever. I like Samuel Adams, but I like Beck's, too. Somehow, I figure that since I like Ben & Jerry's, I'd like Belmont Gourmet Creamery as well. For now, we'll ignore any syllogistic reasoning errors that may have just transpired, though.

Joseph Dietrich, owner of Belmont Gourmet Creamery, claims that his flavors are "very, very different from what others do. We don't copy other flavors" ["Scooping the competition," The Boston Globe, March 16]. Some of the flavors offered by his company are "ginger, chocolate hazelnut, imported Belgian chocolate, hazelnut coffee and imported Belgian white chocolate," according to The Globe.

Somehow, I doubt that Dietrich has frequented the ice-cream parlor known to many of us as Toscanini's. But then again, since he was a car dealer, it probably is not a safe bet to believe everything that he says: "The shade of blue on this here Chevy is you-nique, let me tell you..."

Anyhow, since I am in training for the Boston Marathon, eating a pint of ice cream at a time is not on my agenda of daily activities, so I couldn't care less about what products are cramming the freezer spaces of Laverde's or Star Market (at least, not until after the race). And since I'm not a coffee drinker, I'm not particularly concerned with the coffee ground-wars that appear to have been settled. As long as I can get my coffee in an Avanti-emblazoned cup at the MIT Food Services locales, and my two scoops of Tosci's when the urge strikes, I'll be a satisfied man.