By the end of 2012, coffee junkies in Atlanta, Chicago, and Southern California will be able to get a different kind of buzz when they order their daily latte, as select locations will stock alcohol.
Five Seattle-area stores and one location in Portland, Oregon already offer the expanded menu, which includes alcohol as well as savory flatbreads and snacks. The decision to introduce alcohol to the Starbucks menu was made based on customer feedback, as the company looks to expand its customer base during the evening hours.
"We are always looking for ways to evolve and enhance the Starbucks Experience based on what our customers are telling us,” said senior vice president Clarice Turner in a Starbucks press release
. “We’re pleased with the response of our customers to the introduction of wine, beer and premium food at several of our stores in the Pacific Northwest, and we’re excited to see how the idea translates to other markets.”
Starbucks hopes that offering beer and wine will lead to increased sales as people come to associate the locations with alcohol, making them an option for post-work drinks, book club meetings or other social gatherings where alcohol would be preferable to coffee. By combining its family-friendly atmosphere with beer and wine, the coffee giant may be poised to steal customers away from local watering holes. In particular, the chain seems to be targeting white collar workers who want to unwind after work without having to deal with the bar scene.
The company has not yet revealed what beer and wine brands will be sold at its locations, but the press release states that each location will offer alcoholic beverages selected to cater to local tastes. Given the company's role as a seller of premium coffee, it seems safe to assume that at least some of the beers available will be from regional craft breweries.
The company has no plans to expand the beer and wine concept stores beyond the Atlanta, Chicago area, Southern California, and the Pacific Northwest markets at this time. But if sales are strong, beer and wine could one day be a common sight at Starbucks locations all over the United States.