I am not a coffee person. And I am definitely not a fan of Starbucks as an organization. I am a supporter of Peet’s and Blue Bottle and others and steer people away from Starbucks with my ignorant, outsider perspective. I try to keep things positive about beer, but the announcement that Starbucks will sell beer, wine and tapas type dishes starting tomorrow is something I hope backfires for Starbucks.
Northern California is one of the lucky areas to get beta availability. From the majority of stand alone Starbucks stores around here, I think the effort will be lost. Evening Starbucks customers appear to be people skirting the laws of smoking in public areas while enjoying a warm beverage on sidewalks, where alcohol isn’t supposed to be consumed. Or groups of people on motorcycles or bikes that gather for a last dose of energy and alertness before finishing their trip. Also, the people that want the social alternative of a bar setting, where casual conversations make it a step up from the library so they can finish their school or whatever work. Will that be a losing effort?
Admittedly, I don’t know how Starbucks attracts people at night in the deep suburbs or pop-up urban cities like San Jose. Maybe this will be where beer and wine will be a hit, because it is a safe entry point for kids that don’t have good bars and brewpubs but want to be out drinking in a legally approved public place. They can get the hang of it before going to real bars. This may dissuade and annoy the coffee drinkers that wanted to go to Starbucks for the nostalgic ambiance of the 90’s coffee shop culture, after all Starbucks was the place that sold pretty bland CDs to set the atmosphere of being in one of their stores.
This still seems like what Starbucks is good at, which is jumping on a trend and trying to cash in. I understand that that is what successful businesses do, but I embrace the shadenfreude in me wanting this to fail. Sure, it’ll just be more bottles in their refrigerated cases and doesn’t effect storage and bottom line too much like their microwave foods will, but maybe their supporters of their coffee culture will realize there are better places to go, like Peet’s, that work toward better product and service and not new ways to take more of your money.
Lastly, I’m also dubious about their mention that they will sell craft beers. I wonder if it be Blue Moon and Stella or if they’ll at least extend it to Sam Adams and Goose Island. I honestly don’t see a Drake’s Denogginizer or Green Flash Soul Style being stocked, but maybe I’ll be surprised. Either way, don’t expect me to ever say, “I’ll meet you at Starbucks for a beer.”