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Is Starbucks Good or Bad for Independent Coffee Shops?

Supporters of independent coffee houses love to hate Starbucks -- so much that Starbucks is looking into shedding its branding in certain venues to create "local" coffee/wine bars that feel independent rather than corporate.

This is a completely different battle than that between McDonald's and Starbucks -- the indie crowd would never set food in a McCafe, or at least, not publicly admit to it.

But is Starbucks really bad for independent coffee shops? Many who were initially wary of Starbucks later learned that Starbucks and indies can peacefully coexist; a new Starbucks does not have to mean instant doom for its smaller, local competitors.

In fact, some argue that the opposite is true: Starbucks has on the whole made independent coffee shops more profitable.

The company transformed a commodity into a premium product, taught millions of Americans to spend $3 (or more) for lattes and cappuccinos, and thus spurred the growth of the specialty coffee industry.
Of course, there are other perspectives -- Michael J. Golde at Seeking Alpha argues that the McCafe-Starbucks rivalry will benefit both companies by putting even more little guys out of business.
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