Coffee, tea, or alcohol?
You heard that right, and no, you are not in the middle of a dream. When you walk in one of the 70 Starbucks branches now offering alcohol, you can now order your Caramel Macchiato and Mocha Frappuccino along with your choice of wine or craft beer. Your favorite Starbucks barista can now double as your bartender. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Starbucks really is serving booze.
In chosen branches in New York City, Miami, Denver, Orlando, Atlanta, and even Northern California, Starbucks is bringing their “Evenings” program to mainstream. In fact, the dream is for craft beer and wine to be readily available in the Starbucks menu for 2,000 of 12,000 branches in the United States. That’s in 5 years time.
A Long Time Coming
Offering alcohol in the menu is not entirely new, because “Starbucks Evenings” has actually been running in Seattle since 2010. The favorable response from the Pacific Northwest market has prompted Starbucks to try it in a larger scale, across other states and in other parts of the country.
Starbucks Senior Vice President for U.S. Operations Clarice Turner has mentioned in a statement that “As our customers transition from work to home, many are looking for a warm and inviting place to unwind and connect with the people they care about.” This is the insight that Starbucks has observed in their market. Instead of losing them to a nearby pub or restaurant that they would go to for late night drinks, offering an enhanced menu that includes alcohol will keep them inside Starbucks because it will now have everything they’re looking for to unwind.
True to Starbucks form, this is not a one size fits all kind of thing and similar to its ‘customizable’ hand-crafted drinks, each local store’s offering of wine and beer will actually be hand-picked by Starbucks, and with the local preferences and tastes in mind. Starbucks wanted to make sure that the wine being offered to its customers is the best of the best, so they have enlisted their team of coffee quality and sensory experts to try and narrow down a list of more than 500 wines.
Additionally, the enhanced menu will aside from booze offer customers with dishes that you haven’t seen in Starbucks yet. Beer and wine are perfect with small plates, and offering them won’t be complete without the food. So expect something more than usual, such as chicken skewers, bacon-wrapped dates, truffle macaroni & cheese, artichoke & goat cheese flatbread, meat balls with tomato basil sauce, and even a cheese plate and truffle popcorn.
These enhancements in the menu go really well with the craft beer and wine, so your Starbucks experience will actually be taken a notch higher.
Coffee and Alcohol in One Place
Starbucks has long been known for its service, quality, and ambience. Offering craft beer and choice wine will only add to this, and what’s great about offering coffee and alcohol in one place is that a lot of coffee drinkers are alcohol lovers as well.
The kick that wine and craft beer provides is essential for brainstorming sessions and to get those creative juices flowing, while the caffeine in the espresso beverages will be good for putting those plans into action. Whether you’re there for the coffee or the alcohol or even both, Starbucks has suddenly made the world a better place.
In terms of store layout, Starbucks is also making sure that there are different types of seating that can serve customers at different times of the day. Depending on what you’re going to Starbucks for, whether that’s to read a book, have a casual date, catch up with a group of friends over alcohol, or study all day, Starbucks will have the right seating and ambience for you.
Starbucks Vice President of Concept Innovations Rachel Antalek mentioned in an interview: “There aren’t that many places to go in the evening where you can go very relaxed, very casual. It’s not loud. You can actually hear yourself talk.” This is the space Starbucks is filling with this new offering. It listens to its customers and puts high value to what they seek, and Antalek underscores this insight: “We learned resoundingly that our customers want to come to Starbucks and have a glass of wine or a craft beer.”
For Starbucks loyalists who go there for the coffee, there’s no need to worry that their beloved coffee shop is suddenly getting a facelift and is turning into a bar. This is farthest from the truth, because if you base it on the success of the “Evenings” program that was present in a very few stores early as 2010, it seems Starbucks has found a way to satisfy the needs of its customers while maintaining its ambience and brand identity.