Monday 18 December 2017

Starbucks to sell wine and coffee as it launches store of the future

Starbucks coffee
Starbucks coffee

Ashley Armstrong

Wine and waiters might not normally be on the menu at Starbucks, but at its new concept store in London the coffee giant is trying to cater to a more discerning customer.

The company, famed for its green medusa logo, has broken with tradition and is opening a new Star Reserve store which looks more akin to a restaurant than its chain of ubiquitous high street coffee shops.

The store on Upper St Martins Lane, near Covent Garden, has a discreet black logo that aims to appeal to the growing class of coffee snobs. The store, which is the first of its kind in Europe, is also offering five different exclusive beans from around the world such as Peru, Vietnam, Tanzania, Ethiopia and a blend exclusive to the Star Reserve London store.

Rhys Iley, vice president of Starbucks' operations for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said the decision to introduce a new brand was "not at all" because Brits had fallen out of love with Starbucks.

"London is the most competitive espresso market in the world and we wanted to showcase our fantastic heritage in coffee and bring that to a very discerning UK and London customer", he said.

The $89bn business has also borrowed trendy brewing techniques from independent coffee shops, which means customers can experience unusual brews such as syphon, chemex, pour over, or espressos made with a reverse-press Clover machine or a Black Eagle Simanelli

However, the upgraded brewing methods will also mean that the price of some Star Reserve coffees start at £6, more than a pint of beer in London.

In order to lure customers Starbucks has also spruced up its coffee menus with more upmarket options including Madagascan vanilla lattes and sparkling mint espressos which are displayed on digital boards that change three times a day.

Starbucks is also ditching counter service in favour of roaming waiters with iPads who can take orders and payment, meaning that customers don't have to leave their seats to order.

The Starbucks store which, Mr Illey says, will demonstrate "the theatre of coffee in the heart of Theatreland" will also be the first Starbucks store in the capital to sell alcoholic drinks.

As part of an “Evenings” programme, the group is offering from 4pm to 9pm easy-drinking favourites such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio as well as a Nero D’Avola from Sicily, a Syrah from Washington, and an Italian Prosecco.

Starbucks is also attempting to cash in on the craft beer trend by choosing a Five Points beer from Hackney and a beer from Battersea, London Alt.

"I think there's no mistaking that this store is all about the coffee but we also recognise that a lot of our customers want to come in the evening and enjoy a glass of wine or beer and a sharing platter", Mr Iley said.

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