Starbucks Gets a Makeover and Offers a Hangover: Coffee Retailer to Begin Selling Beer and Wine

U.S. Starbucks stores get 70 percent of business before 2 p.m., according to USA Today, and now the coffee chain is making a move to scoop up more afternoon and evening foot traffic. Starbucks already sells food, an extensive list of coffees and a variety of other beverages, so what is left that American consumers could be craving after lunch?

Answer: Alcohol. In an experiment that USA Today says could be the model for the future of coffee shops, Starbucks’ Olive Way “learning lab” store in Seattle’s Capitol Hill section has recently reopened and will be the first to offer craft beer and local wines for sale after 4 p.m. in addition to an expanded food menu that includes local cheeses.

Starbucks said in a statement that the experiment “is in response to our customers telling us that they want more options for relaxing in our stores in the afternoon and evenings.” It is also likely a move to steal customers from the less-expensive competition in the super tight $15 billion coffee chain business. {CNN Money}

The coffee retailer is reportedly looking to change its image from modern, cookie-cutter chain store to an older, more eclectic coffee shop as well. The Seattle store will have a different look and feel than any Starbucks store has previously, as local cheeses will be served on china and the barista bar will offer seating for customers, much like in a traditional bar. {USA Today}

We’re all for moves that advance businesses into the future, especially risky ones in this economy, so we have to applaud Starbucks for taking the lead here. They will likely be successful as well, but more because of the changed image than the beer and wine sales, as Starbucks could become more appealing to those who avoid it because they dislike the corporate atmosphere. We are wondering how much beer and wine from the notoriously pricey coffee chain will cost, though. If a Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte with whipped cream is $5.17, it’s hard to imagine what a craft beer or glass of local wine will run for.

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