NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I'm watching Howard Schultz build an empire at Starbucks ( SBUX). Outside of Apple ( AAPL) and Amazon.com ( AMZN), there's not another company -- across spaces -- doing what Starbucks does, as well as it does.Starbucks is a tech company in a retail coffeehouse's clothing. At first blush, you might place them on the same level as Whole Foods Market ( WFM), but Starbucks really is the superior company for the long-term. On most days, I have nothing even remotely negative to say about Whole Foods from consumer and investor perspectives. Love the company. Really like the stock. However, when I conduct a multi-method stock market ethnography that puts Starbucks and Whole Foods side-by-side, I start to see flaws. Let's explore them over a bottle of Cherry Chia Kombucha and a venti Chai Tea Misto, 1/4 hot water, 3/4 steamed soy milk, plenty of foam. We'll get to the all-important Trader Joe's stream of semi-consciousness in a minute, but Starbucks doesn't dominate because of scale and size; it wins because it's cutting edge.