Starbucks on Thursday announced its newest venture in partnership with Arizona State University, The ASU-Starbucks Center for the Future of People and the Planet, which the quick-service coffee chain describes as “a new research and rapid innovation facility created to find new ways to design, build and operate Starbucks stores.”
The center, which will open in December, will be on ASU’s campus in Tempe, Ariz.
“Over the last several years we have been reinventing Starbucks for our future and transforming the way we drive innovation at Starbucks,” said CEO Kevin Johnson in a statement. “As we continuously focus on elevating the Starbucks experience, introducing new and exciting beverage innovation, and reimagining customer experiences both in-store and through more personalized digital relationships, we constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways to give back more than we take, using our power at scale to create a better society in which we all live.”
The center will have a dedicated team of scientists, researchers and support staff, including experts from both ASU and Starbucks.
In its first year, the center will focus on four main areas: building Starbucks’ Greener Stores program, exploring alternative menu items such as plant-based options, leveraging the “Third Place” environment to improve communities, and using on-campus Starbucks stores as test units for implementing strategies developed at the center.
ASU’s four campuses in the Phoenix area have nine licensed Starbucks stores run by non-commercial foodservice operator Aramark.
“ASU and Starbucks are aligned in our missions to be of complete service to the communities we serve and build a better future for both people and the planet,” said ASU president Michael M. Crow. “Through this new center, ASU will provide unique value in terms of research and transdisciplinary expertise in order to collaborate with Starbucks to develop, test and validate strategies that can ultimately be scaled to stores and communities globally.”
Starbucks and ASU have worked together since 2014, when they developed the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which allows some Starbucks employees to earn a bachelor’s degree from ASU online.
Email Leigh Anne Zinsmeister at [email protected]