Over the past couple of months, Starbucks has opened up a few “express” stores in New York City. The small stores have no seating, a slightly pared-down menu and they have an assembly-line ordering process that is designed to move people in and out as quickly as possible. These stores are intended for high traffic areas where people aren’t inclined to linger and offer a quick and easy way to get your coffee (or tea) fix. I recently had the chance to pop into one that had just opened on a trip to New York City. The store that I came across was just around the corner from the Empire State Building, where both tourists and office workers can be seen streaming down the sidewalks throughout the day.
The store was extremely compact (and beautifully designed) and I was greeted by an associate standing at a computer as soon as I walked in. There was a small menu board behind him and a very small pastry case on another counter, no retail area in sight. The first associate took my order (doppio) and ushered me towards another associate who stood behind a register, who scanned my card and pointed me towards the pickup area, where my drink was ready to go. The whole process was so smooth that it seemed like it happened in a flash. Admittedly, I did order a very simple drink, but there were two baristas at the bar and I noticed that every other drink came out just as fast as mine did.
I definitely enjoy lingering over my coffee, but you can’t beat the speed here and it is easy to see why this concept fits in a high traffic area so well. You won’t see these stores in most neighborhoods, however I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few pop up in other business districts in large cities, either.