Do you ever wish that you could skip the line and have your coffee drink waiting for you at the bar of your local coffee shop in the morning? This scenario is one that has run through every coffee-addict’s mind while waiting in a particularly long, slow line in the morning at a coffee shop. A company called Buck has introduced a program called Coffee Like A Rockstar that will let you, at participating local cafes, skip the line. The idea is that you order your drink through the site or app and pay for it all online, then you simply swing in and pick it up – no waiting.
The program would work best for small, local coffee shops where they could gain an edge over larger chains, as the convenience to the customer could make them more likely to choose the local shop. Starbucks has tried online ordering in the past, but with their volume, the process doesn’t really make much sense. The only downside is that part of the fun of a small, local coffee shop is the atmosphere and the interaction with employees and other customers, most of which would be lost in favor of a quick in-and-out experience. But, if the app drives more business to local coffee joints that join up, it would be a good thing both for their business and for coffee-lovers looking for a little more convenience.
At the moment, there are only two shops participating, both in Burien, Washingtion, the hometown of Buck’s CEO, so you might not get a chance to try it out unless you live in the area. But if you like the sound of the program, it might be something worth talking to the barista (or cafe owner) at your own favorite coffee joint.
The popular independent coffee chain, Intelligentsia, is planning to expand its reach a little further this year. The Chicago-based coffee company already has several locations in Chicago and Los Angeles, and distributes its fresh-roasted coffee to numerous stores, such as Whole Foods, all over the country. The cafes are known for their coffee loving, independent minded customers (and, in LA, a very high number of hipsters filling their tables) and their skilled baristas. This expansion includes one store in New York and one in San Francisco, connected to their roasting facility in Potrero Hill. They’ll also own three new locations in the Chicago area. Fans of the coffee beans will definitely want to stop in to the cafes for the atmosphere and a cup perfectly prepared to Intelligentsia’s high standards.
A handful of Starbucks stores across the country are getting a new program: Starbucks Evenings. These cafe locations will now be serving wine, beer and a variety of snacks to compliment them in the evenings, from 4pm to closing time. Starbucks says that “After 4 p.m., you’ll experience a more mellow, less hurried atmosphere perfect for winding down” and be able to get a glass of wine and a bite to eat someplace other than a bar or a traditional restaurant. You will still be able to get all of the usual coffee drinks and pastries, but you’ll now also have options that include truffled mac and cheese, cheese plates and chocolate fondue with a variety of dipping options. The wine selection isn’t as extensive as you’d find at a wine bar, but it is curated to provide a range of reds, whites and even sweet, sparkling wines that should offer something for everyone.
The Evenings program is definitely not going to be available at all Starbucks locations, but more stores will be launching the program as the year wears on. The stores where you’ll see this catch on are large stores, with plenty of seating and a customer base that already likes to hang out and relax in the cafe – a lot like many of the stores that offer Clover machines at the moment.
Currently, there are stores in Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Portland and in Dulles Airport in Washington DC. There are also two stores in the LA area and I will post a review as soon as I have a chance to visit one. I’m definitely curious to try a little wine before my coffee in the evenings – especially if I’m in the cafe doing a little blogging!
Couldn’t resist sharing a picture of this picture-perfect latte from Ritual Coffee that I picked up on a recent visit to San Francisco. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that they don’t have my favorite coffees, but these baristas made a wonderful latte.