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Like Guns? Buy Starbucks

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Now available for the iPhone (AAPL), next to Angry Birds and the Federal budget in the App Store, is a product developed by Penn State cognitive scientist Frank Ritter called Caffeine Zone. Based on the “pharmacokinetics of caffeine” Ritter’s app tells coffee drinkers the optimal time and amount of coffee to drink.

Caffeine Zone informs users when they have entered the so-called “optimal cognition” zone. It then warns coffee drinkers when they’re about to either fall out of this zone or drink too much coffee and stay up past their bedtime.

All kidding aside, if this works, it sounds fantastically useful. And thanks to a recent spat between Starbucks (SBUX) and gun control groups, it looks like a new group of coffee drinkers are going to be hitting optimal cognition through the chain’s java.

Earlier this week, gun advocates announced a “buycott” of the company’s products in response to its decision to allow guns in stores in states where open carry is legal.

The move was in response to a protest called “Starbucks Appreciation Day” started with the National Gun Victims Action Council’s decision to push for a boycott of the chain. Its goal was to drive Starbucks to join with companies like California Pizza Kitchen (CPKI), IKEA and Peet’s Coffee (PEET) in banning guns from their stores, regardless of state law.

Conversely, gun advocates have been buying up Starbucks in states across the country. According to the Global Post, one supporter was quoted saying that he and some friends had spent $131.64 that day in support of the chain.

So far, Starbucks has said that it is simply complying with state laws.

Ultimately -- and leaving aside the advisability of allowing people to wander around with a gun on their belt -- it’s Starbucks’ decision whether or not to allow open carry in its stores. Right now, it seems possible that their current stance will end up making the company more money than it loses.

It should be interesting to see how these protests and counter-protests pan out over the next few weeks. However, I do hope the chain bans guns in the half dozen locations experimenting with a new product line.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.