Jan 11, 2013

Intelligentsia expanding to SF, NYC

intelligentsialogo

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.

Jan 6, 2013

Select Starbucks start serving wine during Starbucks Evenings

Starbucks Evenings

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!

Jan 3, 2013

Starbucks Launches $1 Reusable Plastic Cups

Reusable Starbucks Cup

How often do you bring a reusable coffee cup or tumbler in to a coffee shop when you stop for a cup of coffee? If you’re anything like me, the answer is “not often enough.” Starbucks, and other coffee shops, have long been offering a small discount on coffee or drinks for bringing in your own cup but this incentive hasn’t been enough to make a big dent in coffee-lovers’ habits yet. Today, Starbucks is launching a new kind of reusable cup in an effort to encourage more customers to go green with their coffee. The lightweight plastic cups look like paper cups, only cost $1 and still save you 10 cents on each drink that you fill them with at Starbucks. They are washable, but they will also be cleaned with boiling water by baristas before being refilled, too.

In test markets, these inexpensive cups boosted consumers’ reuse by as much as 26% – a huge increase over the current rate, which is less than 2% of drinks served. Starbucks and the eco-minded are both hoping that this will change the habits of at least a few coffee drinkers.

At only $1, I’m willing to add one or two to my collection of tumblers (or replace the ones that don’t fit in my car cupholders) and make a little more of an effort to use them. And now that I’ve seen them in person, they look pretty nifty, too.

Jan 2, 2013

Starbucks acquires Teavana

Teavana Teas
Starbucks has owned the Tazo tea company since 1999, and they are a mainstay at Starbucks stores. Quality tea seems to be generating more and more interest (in the US) these days, and Starbucks has taken note. The coffee giant recently purchased specialty tea seller Teavana for $620 million. The purchase gives Starbucks a great entry into the higher end tea market. This seems like a good move for Starbucks, since Teavana has a strong brand and lots of fans who enjoy the diverse range of teas that they offer. I could see the potential for offering more tea drinks in stores as an alternative to a traditional coffee shop and as eventually branching out to some stand-alone cafes – much as they did with Tazo earlier this year. Starbucks also says that they intend to move some Teavana products into the consumer goods market – meaning that they will likely be available in grocery stores, but at a much higher price point than more mass-market Tazo teas are.

From a more personal POV, I’ve had some bad experiences at Teavana locations due to aggressively upselling staff members. I’ve had some teas there that are very nice, but I basically swore them off after the last bad trip. A refreshing of the brand and maybe some of the attitudes there would definitely bring me back to shop there again. I love the idea of an accessible tea-centric cafe, so I’ll just keep my eyes out and see what comes from this purchase in the long run.

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