Start of a Trend?

Starbucks to add beer and wine in its cafe

Starbucks Corp announced last week it will give beer and wine a try in one of its namesake cafes when it reopens a renovated Seattle store in the fall.
According to an online Routers story, the world’s biggest coffee chain has been selling beer and wine at two upscale concept stores in Seattle’s Capitol Hill section for about a year. But this will be the fisrt Starbucks cafe chosen to test beer and wine.

“We’re always looking to improve the afternoon and evening business,” said spokeswoman Sanja Gould, who added that Starbucks has no immediate plans to expand beer and wine sales into other cafes.

The renovated store also will feature a U-shaped espresso bar that gives customers more room to interact with Starbucks employees, meeting rooms and an indoor/outdoor space with a fireplace that opens onto a park.

Starbucks owns all of its U.S. stores and is working to differentiate itself from new competitors like fast-food chains McDonald’s Corp with upmarket renovations and specialty coffee products.

Comments

  1. einhorn says

    I personally don’t think that this will work out like the head marketing dudes at Starbucks hope it will. IMO it has simply become too engrained in people’s minds that Starbucks is a morning stop, and not a “grab a cold beer on the way home” place. Plus, they will surely set up some sort of “cross-promotion” with Bud, Miller or Coors, which will be the nail in the coffin. Expected life-expectancy of this idea (and the guy who came up with it): 1 year.

    Kind of like drinking beer at McDonald’s – makes sense on paper, but just doesn’t fit the business model.

  2. Sulfur says

    Moonlight wrote: How many brewpubs sell coffee and even have espresso machines?

    Exactly. Instead of Starbucks selling a beer or two, how about brewpubs setting up a small Coffee bar in the restaurant, even a Starbucks one. I’d love to see that here in our restaurant. I think it’s a good fit.

  3. MikeRoy says

    I’ve seen inner city coffee shops have great success with beer/wine as they attract a different crowd than more suburban ones.I think part of the success of beer/wine will depend on the locations themselves. If the shop is in a downtown center that has restaurants and nightlife then it’ll be an easy extension, but if its in a strip mall on a back country route it may not have the success. Perhaps in the end they will decide that only some locations have the potential to really do beer/wine sales with any real numbers.

  4. beerking1 says

    einhorn wrote: Kind of like drinking beer at McDonald’s – makes sense on paper, but just doesn’t fit the business model.

    I have seen McDonald’s selling wine in France, pizza in Italy, Crabcakes on the Eastern Shore of MD, and have heard of them selling beer in the UK. I think it all depends on your mindset and how they market it.

    then again, the idea of seeing Ronald McDonald with a cold frosty one just seems wrong! 😉

  5. Moonlight says

    I have seen beer at McDonald’s in Germany. too.
    Tell me Ronald doesn’t need at least a beer after work…

  6. liammckenna says

    Grappa and a double espresso. Breakfast of many Italians. At least when I was in Venice it was.

    We have a state of the art coffee system in our brew pub.

    We are brewers after all.

    I happen to think Starbucks is an insidious evil empire. But I wish them all the luck selling beer.

    Pragmatist, I am.

    Pax.

    Liam

  7. Jephro says

    liammckenna wrote:
    I happen to think Starbucks is an insidious evil empire. But I wish them all the luck selling beer.

    What, you consider strong arming mom and pop coffee shops out of business so they can open another Starbucks 2 blocks from another one evil? Oh wait, that is pretty evil.

    Happened to a friend and fellow brewer’s sister in Hawaii. Wal-Bucks signed a lease with the strip mall and put in a non-compete clause which caused her shop to not get a lease renewal after a dozen or so years in that location. Haven’t bought anything from a Wal-Bucks since then 2 1/2 years ago.

  8. beerking1 says

    I’ve never really cared for their coffee anyway (except the holiday blend). I hear they intentionally roast for a little bit of char in the beans. It tastes like it…burnt coffee. I much prefer Seattle’s Best or Peet’s. Nobody in Seattle drinks Wal-Bucks.

  9. BubbaBeerBacon says

    I remember reading somewhere that the creator of starbucks (or 2 bucks):) was an ex-brewer or had a brewery prior to starbucks???

  10. admin says

    True enough. One of the early founders of Starbucks was involved in the very early days of RedHook.

  11. Brewtopian says

    By coincidence the retail concept that we recently launched borrows the environment of Starbucks and other coffee shops and blends it with a top notch bottle shop & pub. When people ask me what it is we do I typically describe us as Starbucks for beer.

    Now I know that there are those of you out there who are going to recoil from that description but stop for a second and think about it. Starbucks created a market for coffee that did not exist prior to them. In many ways craft beer has been doing this same thing for 30+ years now and we’re just an extension of that so before you think that comparing yourself to Starbucks is a bad thing remember that without them we’d all still be drinking C-Store coffee out of styrofoam cups.

  12. Jephro says

    Brewtopian wrote: By coincidence the retail concept that we recently launched borrows the environment of Starbucks and other coffee shops and blends it with a top notch bottle shop & pub. When people ask me what it is we do I typically describe us as Starbucks for beer.

    Now I know that there are those of you out there who are going to recoil from that description but stop for a second and think about it. Starbucks created a market for coffee that did not exist prior to them. In many ways craft beer has been doing this same thing for 30+ years now and we’re just an extension of that so before you think that comparing yourself to Starbucks is a bad thing remember that without them we’d all still be drinking C-Store coffee out of styrofoam cups.

    Wal-Mart, McDonalds, and IN-Bud started out as hometown businesses too. It’s not where you began, instead i beg the question: who are you and what do you stand for today.
    cha-ching….Money, Greed, absence of local culture, strong-arming the little guys into bankruptcy. Sorry, i have no respect for and do not support that type of business 🙁 ….EVER
    …or just assimilate and join the hive

    What if Wal-Mart installed little kiosk bottle shops in all of their super centers and ran you out of business. Do you think they would care if you homeless? They may offer you a job stocking shelves for $8.00/hour with no benefits.

    My point..
    Support your local brewery, coffee shop, jewelry store, gas station, bottle shop, restaurant… etc.
    …otherwise, well if you don’t know you probally wouldn’t understand.

  13. Brewtopian says

    Jephro wrote: Wal-Mart and McDonalds started out as hometown businesses too. It’s not where you began, instead i beg the question: who are you and what do you stand for today.
    cha-ching….Money, Greed, absence of local culture, strong-arming the little guys into bankruptcy. Sorry i have no respect and do not support that type of business 🙁

    Support your local brewery, coffee shop, jewelry store, gas station, restaurant… etc.

    Every business starts out as local including GM, Ford, HP, Apple, Hershey Kraft, Heinz and JP Morgan Chase. Just because all of these may have failed in some respect doesn’t mean they don’t have lessons they can teach us. Whether you’re a local business or a multi-national corporation you have to be open to doing it better and that comes down to learning from those who came before you.

    You don’t have to respect a company to appreciate the fact that they got something right. Starbucks changed the way that Americans view and appreciate coffee. Prior to Starbucks coffee was a commodity product sold for pennies in styrofoam cups at the C-store and our expectation was that it would taste awful. Now, we want our coffee to taste good and be served in a pleasant environment by friendly people, big improvement IMO.

  14. Kellsboro Jack says

    Interesting. Retail outfits are testing all the time ideas and I’m surprised they haven’t tried this before at one location as they are doing now.

    Maybe I’m reading the article differently but there is no suggestion that any beer would be brewed on site. Hence, no Starbucks brand beer or even in-house beer. Rather this would simply be another means to generate foot traffic and revenue for select Starbucks – that is if the test at this one single store is overwhelmingly positive.

    Again getting way ahead of the article, but even if they did have some select stores selling beer they likely would buy local micro and craft brews.

    The next generation Whole Foods stores, for example, have in-store bar stations to drink beer and wine.

    Still I doubt too many of their stores could ever realistically offer beer. Much of their labor is under 21 which would make serving an issue and new permits to serve alcohol in many metro areas are difficult to come by.

    Personally in terms of threats I’m surprised that a Wal-Mart, for example, hasn’t explored selling a private beer brewed for them by one of the major outfits. They have a hunger for private goods and beer cannot be that far off from the next point of focus.

  15. Brewtopian says

    Well the latest out of Seattle is that Starbucks was happy enough with the test marketing to pursue the addition of beer and wine in their stores in select markets. I for one feel that this is a good thing.

    The test stores in Seattle featured “premium” imported brands like Stella and regional craft brands like Alaskan and Red Hook and I would suspect that this would be the case as they role this program out in other markets.

    My hope is other chain restaurants will pick up on this trend and put on tap handles that are craft exclusives so perhaps we’ll start to see more craft beer in more places.