Starbucks to Offer Both Coffee and Beer?

Starbucks is a remarkable company, with a history of innovation and success.  From humble beginnings, this company has made inroads across the nation and the world.  In fact, it is difficult to recall a world where there was not a Starbucks on every street corner where you could get that cup of java to start your engine running.

However, while Starbucks might have built their reputation on coffee, that might not be the only beverage they serve.  Well, they've had teas, chai and hot chocolate, as well as other drinks for as long as anyone can remember, but there is a specific change going on now.

Believe it or not, you might be able to buy a bottle of your favorite beer, or a glass of your preferred wine at your local Starbucks, at least after 4 PM.  What's this?  Why is a coffee shop going to start selling alcohol?  According to the company, most of their business happens before 2 in the afternoon.  To help boost patronage after 2 (and make more money), the company is looking into beverages that are more popular with the evening crowd. 

The new program is only in the testing phase, and there is only one Starbucks location that currently sells beer and wine.  It's located in (you guessed it) Seattle.  The new location has a whole new design, a new barista bar and even serves food, as well (that's a foregone conclusion, as most locations have to serve some sort of food, depending on the amount of money they make from alcohol sales).  The program is slated for expansion in the Seattle area, as well, with more stores beginning to sell alcohol.

Actually, for those who think this is an odd shift for the chain, this is really nothing new.  There are numerous coffee shops in New York and other cities that have been serving alcohol as well as caffeine for years.  It is a definite change for Starbucks, though.  How is this going to go over with fans of the company?

Most probably won't mind a bit, but there are a few who are firmly against it, fearing that the addition of alcohol to their favorite java spot will change the atmosphere and the clientele.  It remains to be seen just how the new initiative will do, but initial signs from the pilot program seem to indicate that it will be good.

Posted on January 18, 2011 and filed under The Business of Beer.