Starbucks Asks: Venti, Grande, Tall, or Cabernet Sauvignon?

Sure, you hit your local Starbucks for coffee, morning after bleary-eyed morning. And maybe on weekends you sit with the paper and a nice latte, people watching and catching up on the news. Pretty soon you’ll be able to add happy hour to the list!

Starbucks is adding alcohol to several stores as a test run, which in theory sounds like an intriguing idea. After dinner drinks like “irish coffee” would be a great fit for a cafe. But according to Bloomberg, Starbucks is apparently aiming for the after-work drinkers:

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) — Starbucks Corp., the world’s largest coffee-shop chain, will sell beer and wine at more locations to lure customers during the slower afternoon and evening hours.

The chain, which first served alcohol in October 2010 at a Seattle store, will sell beer and wine in as many as 25 locations by the end of this year, the Seattle-based company said in a statement today. Stores in Chicago, Atlanta and Southern California are among the new locations, Starbucks said.

The specific stores have been “carefully selected” and are larger and have more seating than regular Starbucks sites, Clarice Turner, senior vice president of U.S. operations, said in an interview today. Starbucks also is selling fruit-and-cheese plates and focaccia with olive oil at the stores that serve alcohol, she said. The company isn’t considering the concept for the whole chain, Turner said.

“It won’t be at every Starbucks store ever,” she said.

At the six stores that now sell alcohol in Seattle and Portland, Oregon, beer is $5 and glasses of wine are $7 to $9. Starbucks is creating the bar menu “so it’s relevant to local taste preferences,” Turner said, declining to name specific brands that the stores will carry.

Ok, I am admittedly not much of a drinker, but for $5-9 for wine or beer, I’d rather go to a bar. On the other hand, Starbucks would be significantly quieter, so for catching up with friends I could see it being successful. Still, it comes down to whether enough people purchase alcohol to justify the higher costs for training employees and paying for liquor licenses. At least they have some excellent synergy; if you drink too much you won’t have to go far for a stiff cup of coffee!

If you live near a Starbucks that’s serving alcohol, let us know in the comments what it’s like! Can you order your beer through the Starbucks app? Do they let you use gift cards? Will they spike a Frappucino? Inquiring minds want to know!

Via Bloomberg Businessweek

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