Starbucks has a thing for white neighborhoods

At the invitation of Starbucks new program to encourage its customers to have a conversation and debate about race, Quartz writers Melvin Backman and Zach Wener-Fligner have a question to start: “What’s the deal with you and predominantly white neighborhoods, Starbucks?”

“To be sure, lots of other things might account for the correlation we see here,” they write today. “Wealth, income levels, geographic density, and rates of coffee consumption among different groups would all likely play a role in Starbucks’ site selection, for example.”

But it’s a place to start, they say.

It’s a serious question, though. A Starbucks in the neighborhood boosts property values, Zillow calculated. Not a lot, the Arizona Republic says, but enough.

It is plausible that having a Starbucks nearby could boost a home’s value. Most retailers like to locate stores in prosperous areas where people have disposable cash. In Starbucks’ case, that means attracting customers willing to plunk down $3 or $4 for a cup of coffee and just as much for a pastry. Perhaps having a Starbucks on the corner might make a neighborhood feel more cozy and inviting.

Zillow points to Boston as an example. According to Zillow, overall home prices appreciated 126 percent from January 1997 through December 2013 in Boston, which ironically is the home of Starbucks’ coffee rival Dunkin’ Donuts.

By contrast, Boston-area residences located within a quarter-mile of Starbucks gained an average 171 percent, Zillow said. Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia were among other big cities where Zillow noted a sizable Starbucks effect.

Today, the Starbucks CEO will reveal to shareholders how the program is going to work.

“The idea — that the revolutionary action needed in our nation’s continued entanglement with racism is writing a phrase on a Starbucks cup — is a frothy combination of one pump hubris, three pumps privilege and four shots of I-can’t-even,” Alexandra Petri writes today in the Washington Post.

“You have to be pretty far up your own percolator to think this is the way of going about it,” Petri says.

Related: Journalists Terrorize Starbucks Baristas (NYMag).