Starbucks Looks at Offering ‘Real’ Drinks After 4

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After giving the idea a test run in a number of markets, Starbucks has decided it is going to up the ante when it comes to their evening offerings.  The coffee juggernaut may be soon offering wine with lattés as Starbucks is going to eventually start offering “real” drinks after 4 p.m.

Their menu will be undergoing a bit of a changeup as well.  In addition to its traditional pastry fare, delicacies such as bacon wrapped dates and truffle mac and cheese will also be offered.  There will also be a variety of alcohols and Malbec wines as well.

A Seattle-based Starbucks store first began selling alcohol in October 2010, and Chief Operating Officer Troy Olstead said that the move to bring that evening menu to thousands of stores will occur over the span of several years.  He noted that there was a “meaningful increase in sales during that time of day.”

The move makes sense, given the recent cost hikes in both coffee and whole milk.  The coffee company has been looking for ways to boost revenue for the last few years, wanting to move beyond the coffee and pastry world.  In making the move to offer so-called “real” drinks after 4 p.m. Starbucks baristas may soon be asking if their customers would like a glass of wine with their latté.

Starbucks is clearly trying to remain at the forefront of innovation, as this is not its only move towards becoming more versatile.  It was announced a few weeks ago that the company would be rolling out a mobile ordering option, which will be in operation next Wednesday, March 26, through 7,000 of Starbucks’ 11,000 coffee houses in the US.

The coffee company has also been doing some shopping of late.  In the last three years, Starbucks has dished out $30 million for the juice company Evolution Fresh Inc, $100 million for Bay area bakery La Boulange, and $620 million for Atlanta based Teavana Holdings, Inc.

The evening program currently exists in about 40 markets, and Olstead admits that it will not work in all markets that Starbucks has a presence in.  He says that the chief markets the evening program will be targeted to will be mostly urban areas near restaurants and theaters when people are more likely than not going to be going out during the evening.

The eventual rollout of the “real” drinks at Starbucks is not the only plan in the works for the coffee chain.  In addition to the modified menu offerings, there will also be a celebrity-endorsed tea coming out April 29.  Oprah’s Chai Tea will be offered in Starbucks locations in addition to the Teavana stores that the chain recently bought.  A portion of the proceeds from the purchase Oprah’s Chai Tea will go to her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation.  The talk show legend came up with the idea after sharing her love of tea with Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz at a wedding both attended last summer.  Winfrey has apparently mentioned the tea idea to Schultz several times since the wedding, and Schultz has made no secret of the fact that he would like to see tea become as popular as coffee at Starbucks.

By Christina St-Jean

Sources:

Chicago Tribune

Washington Post

CBS News

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