Starbucks returns to its neighborhood roots with new 15th Avenue prototype

Starbucks returns to its neighborhood roots with new 15th Avenue prototype

SEATTLE Starbucks Corp. [3] is “re-imagining” the coffeehouse concept with the launch of a new neighborhood-specific location here the week of July 20 that will serve beer and wine and host live entertainment or community events. —

The new concept is dubbed “15th Avenue Coffee & Tea Inspired by Starbucks,” named for its location in Starbucks’ hometown of Seattle. It is expected to be the first of three such community coffeehouses developed to reconceptualize different aspects of the Starbucks experience, according to Major Cohen, Starbucks senior project manager. —

While Starbucks’ mermaid logo will be largely missing from the 15th Avenue location, that store’s logo will include the “inspired by Starbucks” tagline. Cohen said the company is not trying to hide the unit’s connection to the global brand. —

“It is a Starbucks, but it’s a different kind of Starbucks,” he said. —

The goal of the experiment is to elevate the coffee experience, to look at how employees interact with customers and to examine “community relevance,” Cohen said. —

The new store is a return to roots of sorts for Starbucks in that coffees will be made with manual espresso machines—not the automated machines found at most locations—coffee beans will be roasted at a nearby plant and delivered with short turnaround to the store, and only a few coffees will be available, including some limited-time offers that have never been served to domestic Starbucks customers. During opening week, for example, the 15th Avenue store planned to offer a coffee served only at Starbucks in Brazil, Cohen said. —

In addition, 15th Avenue will feature a broader line of full-leaf Tazo brand teas, available by the cup, pot or ounce to take home. —

The new store will not house a kitchen, but food items will be brought in fresh by local company Essential Baking, Cohen said. —

The menu might include fresh toasted breads with butter and jam at breakfast, French pastries, and such snacks in the evening as a locally sourced cheese plate, local smoked salmon or an open-faced sardine sandwich. —

Starbucks brand ice cream, previously only available in retail stores, will be scooped at 15th Avenue, and guests can order Italian style affogato, or ice cream topped with a shot of espresso, Cohen said. —

A small selection of red, white and sparkling wines will be available as well as about five local beers and one imported brand. In the evenings, the location may host live music or theater performances, or serve as a venue for local student films. —

The concept’s core still will be coffee, Cohen said, but the addition of alcohol and events will help build traffic during afternoon and evening dayparts. —

Starbucks experimented unsuccessfully with the addition of beer and wine in the past, but Cohen noted that other coffeehouse operators now offer alcohol in Seattle, so the practice is more accepted. —

Prices at 15th Avenue will in some cases be slightly higher than those at a regular Starbucks, in part because coffees are handmade, he said. —

“It won’t be so people see it as a high-end experience,” he said. “We’re not going to price ourselves out of the business.” —

Locations have not been identified for the two other experimental units to come. Cohen said he is not certain when they will open and that those units will be different from the first pilot store, designed to appeal to the neighborhoods where they are located.— [email protected] [4]