I don’t know about you guys, but when I heard that Starbucks has a new store in Washington that serves beer and wine, I was surprised. Surprised because it’s a huge stretch from coffee. I mean, it’s one thing to serve breakfast and food… but beer and wine? It’s just interesting, because I’m curious if people will go for it.

On that note, there are many AZ establishments that do serve beer and wine, and it works fine because that’s what they’ve done from the beginning. Places like Liberty Market, Press Coffee, and Ground Control sell adult beverages. And from what I can tell, it works very well and adds to a healthy bottom line.

A very different kind of Starbucks is on tap. It will serve regional wine and beer. It offers an expansive plate of locally made cheeses — served on china. The barista bar is rebuilt to seat customers up close to the coffee.

Most conspicuously, the place looks less like a Starbucks and more like a cafe that’s been part of the neighborhood for years — yet that’s “green” in design and decor. This is the calling card of independent java joints that have been eating and sipping away at Starbucks’ evening business for decades. U.S. Starbucks stores get 70% of business before 2 p.m.

You can read the full story, and watch a video at USA Today.

Arizona Coffee

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  1. I thought maybe they learned their lesson about sticking to their core business. Maybe not.

    At any rate, I already support two bartenders and can hardly afford more 🙂

  2. AZBarista

    I’m interested to see how it does. As Chris mentioned above, there are a handful of Arizona coffee shops that also make alcohol available and Intelligentsia just celebrated the opening of their Pasadena Cafe which serves booze as well as small, seasonal plates.

    And to be fair, it’s not as if Starbucks is rolling out this concept internationally right off the bat (as they suggest is possible in the future with success). They’ve also toyed around with concept stores in the Seattle area with relative success.

    Similarly, one look at the MillerCoors website (www.millercoors.com) you’ll see the expanse of “craft” and “imported” beers that carry their own label, but are still under the MillerCoors brand. Personally, I see Starbucks approach as no different – merely catering to the craft/specialty wave in their own manner (think A.J.’s Fine Foods vs. Basha’s).

    On an indirect note, I believe that with the increasing punitive measures regarding drunk driving, Starbucks (predicated on the success of their Washington concept) may edge itself in to be a benefactor. Revamping even HALF of their stores puts them to be in a better position than the majority of restaurant/bar chains that serve the same purpose as a ‘Barbucks’ – a place “[People] go for a predictably good cup of coffee and a place that’s predictably clean and safe” – in this case, it may be a decent well drink or glass of wine within walking distance as opposed to the 2-3 miles of *possible* driving.

    The specialty coffee industry, on many levels, has seen Starbucks serve as the baseline for the general public and created itself from there with one premise in mind: to brew a better cup. Maybe the solution to tapping into the market that scoffs at paying more than $10 for a 12oz. bag yet doesn’t bat an eyelash at a $100 bottle of wine is to put both of them on par and available with one another.

  3. @AZBarista – very well thought out response. Great things to think about.

    We must remember that Sbux is a corporation and needs to please their shareholders with raw numbers, so if this doesn’t add to their bottom line, it will never take off. Also, not a single person I know would go for an adult beverage at a current Sbux store; their stores selling alcohol have been revamped to have a neighborhood, low-lit, relaxing feel. These renovations can cost 200k+, so we’ll be lucky to see such a store come about in AZ. I tip my hat to Sbux, because YES…they are the leading “corporate” coffee chain, however they’ve been studying and doing their market research and taking notes from the “small guys”.

    A company that has a little more of a chain feel to it than say Intelligentsia that also serves beer and wine is Forza, based in Washington.

  4. andrewkfromaz

    Matador, in north phoenix, is also now serving wine and beer. i didn’t see a list of what they’re offering this morning, but the fridges and a rack are stocked.

  5. @ BC…..Kierland*bucks will be the first to try the concept, allegedly.

  6. Psyd

    Coffee has been served in bars forever, and it sells, and booze has been available at cafe’s all over the planet. Of course, with the exception of the US and Muslim countries.
    There is a rumour down here that a well-heeled coffee shop will soon be looking into MyPressi boozey-shots and potentially co-operating with a local micro-brewer to produce a coffee porter that will be available at the coffee shop.
    And I see no problem with any of that.
    And if Howie wants to come to Tucson to open one of his BarBucks, tell him to bring friends and pack a lunch.