Most of the croissants that you can get at American coffee shops are large, soft things that are buttery tasting but bear little resemblance to the ultra-flaky croissants you’ll find at French cafes and bakeries. The soft pastries are mass produced and inexpensive, while the French style pastries tend to be made by hand by artisans and they come in smaller sizes with a higher price tag. Starbucks has been stocking an acceptable American-style croissant for years, but they are aiming to improve their offerings in the future.
Last year, Starbucks acquired San Francisco bakery chain La Boulange, which has been turning out deliciously authentic pastries since the first one opened 1999. The acquisition of the bakery came after a meeting with the owner turned into a conversation about was that Starbucks pastries could stand out from the crowd. La Boulange was already raising the bar on bulk-baked pastries by producing artisan quality goods in the San Francisco plant. Starbucks ended up purchasing the whole business for $100 million.
The plan now is to use the San Francisco plant as a headquarters, not only to churn out pastries for the West coast, but to use as a model for other facilities across the country. Starbucks aims to have their products produced close to their stores so that they arrive as fresh as possible, and the key with this new venture – in the words of Nicolas Bernardi, the French-born manager of La Boulange’s marketing and product development, “to see if the managers are the kind who ‘want to grow and learn’ or the kind who are content to just ‘vomit products.'” so that every pastry that makes it to a Starbucks store will be as good as the ones headed to La Boulange locations.