Starbucks and Anheuser-Busch Team Up

Tea Wall detail.JPGIn the beverage world, there are few names bigger than Starbucks and Anheuser-Busch. The two dominate any discussion of coffee or beer respectively, but they’re now partnering up to help capture the market of a third beverage – tea. Specifically, Starbucks is looking to begin selling their Teavana line of teas as ready-to-drink specialty bottles in grocery stores around the world. They decided to partner with Anheuser Busch to handle the bottling aspect of the operation, and if spokespeople for both companies are to be believed, there is plenty of revenue to go around.

Tea is currently a billion-dollar market in the US, and Teavana was Starbucks’ biggest acquisition ever when they bought it for $630 million in 2012. The original retail strategy for the brand, which involved revamping the Teavana tea bars around the country, didn’t live up to the “$90 billion global market opportunity” that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz originally predicted.

Starbucks’ new partnership and strategy represent a significant pivot to the ready-to-drink market. They expect to release the new line in over 300,000 US supermarkets and convenience stores by next year. The move is also a possible save for Anheuser-Busch, who have seen sales and production suffer in the wake of the craft beer movement.

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Mixology Moves Outside of Alcohol, and Vice Versa

1653847_10152889012450820_2052556431145819038_n.jpgIt’s getting a lot harder than it used to be to walk down a grocery store aisle and tell what will give you a buzz – at least at first glance. For starters, there’s the growing proliferation of alcoholic versions of sodas from childhood, like Not Your Father’s Root Beer, or Crabbie’s Ginger Beer. But the trend also moves the other direction, as more and more foods and beverages without alcohol draw on the flavor profiles of beer, liquor and cocktails.

The Republic of Tea, for example, now offers The Sonoma Teas Collection, which is inspired by Sonoma County and includes flavors like red wine with orange and currant. The teas are free of caffeine and alcohol, but contain grape skins for the antioxidants. Cuvee coffee now offers a beer-flavored coffee in a can, reminiscent of dark coffee stouts. Even Starbucks tested a Dark Barrel Latte last year.

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Starbucks Will Finally Open in Italy

hTiiZIVq-3389-5084.jpgStressing the “humility and respect” with which they are undertaking this endeavor, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced recently that in early 2017, Starbucks will finally open their first store in Italy. It may be surprising that such a store doesn’t exist already, especially since the Starbucks brand was born out of Schultz’s first trip to Milan 33 years ago, but the company is understandably cautious about bringing one of the largest chains in the world to a culture that prizes small-scale coffee operations and exquisite attention to detail.

Starbucks will be partnering with Italian brand, retail and real estate developer Percassi to bring the first Italian store to life in Milan, with plans to open more down the line. In a blog post announcing this opening, Starbucks mentions Percassi’s values and commitment to youth development as key elements of their choice. Antonio Percassi, the company’s president, states that, “We know that we are going to face a unique challenge with the opening of the first Starbucks store in Italy, the country of coffee, and we are confident that Italian people are ready to live the Starbucks experience, as already occurs in many other markets.”

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Starbucks to Donate Millions to Help Employees in China Pay Rent

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Photo via fastcompany.com

Starbucks recently made two big announcements about their presence in China, a country where economic troubles have been causing global shockwaves for months and other American chains (including KFC and Pizza Hut) are struggling. The first announcement is that they plan to open 500 more locations in China this year alone, and create 10,000 new jobs in the country every year through 2019. The second announcement is that all those new employees may get handed a very big perk with their green aprons – the coffee giant will soon begin offering vouchers to full time baristas and managers to help them pay their rent. They predict that 7,000 Chinese workers will be eligible for the vouchers immediately, and another 3,000 will be in the near future. Although Starbucks hasn’t given an exact number for the total cost of this program, they say it is a “multimillion dollar” investment and that they expect to pay around 50% of the rent for qualifying workers.

In China, the practice of offering subsidized living to employees is more common, although these living situations usually amount to crowded dorms. With rents rising across the country, it is unsurprising that workers have been requesting a subsidy from Starbucks for awhile.

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Starbucks Passport App is the Untappd of Coffee

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Photo via starbucks.com

Coffee connoisseurship has almost certainly gone mainstream, and the latest indication is the release of Starbuck’s “Coffee Passport” app to the general public. The app allows users to collect digital stickers in their coffee passport each time they try a new coffee (or a single-origin coffee from a new country), while recording tasting-notes and comments about the experience. The app also includes plenty of study materials to shrink the gap between coffee shop guest and trained barista, including a glossary, primer on cuppings, and tips on various brew methods.

Starbucks baristas have had a paper version of this idea since the mid 90s, and the app was pre-released to Starbucks staff a month ago. The idea of ‘collecting’ rare beverages on your phone pokemon-style has precedent with apps like Untappd (for craft beer) and Delectable (for wine). In general, these apps encourage users to expand their selection and provide an incentive to go for the “new” over the “tried-and-true.” This could ultimately hurt Starbucks, who have had a hard time breaking in to the niche coffee market, although they’ve indicated a plan to focus even more on rare, high end coffee in the future.

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Coffee Giant, Starbucks, Serves Alcohol

UnknownOver the past five years, Starbucks has been implementing plans to sell wine, craft beer and small plates. While Starbucks is already an international hub for coffee, they are expanding into a larger scale of beverages. This week, 24 new locations will enact in the “Starbucks Evenings” program. Starbucks locations in Brooklyn, Denver, Miami, Orlando, Northern California, Washington, Oregon, Los Angeles, Chicago, Florida and Atlanta have been secured liquor licenses and are the initiatives to this new program.

“Starbucks Evenings” offers a small-plate menu like truffle macaroni and cheese, bacon-wrapped dates, and includes ten wine options. Starbucks executives are hoping to appeal to women as a safer and more comfortable place to drink than a bar. With the pilot stores, Starbucks found serving wine helped the stores attract book clubs, knitting circles, Bible study groups, and a number of online daters meeting for the first time. Starbucks is hoping to utilize their convenient and familiar brand name as a comfort place to not only grab coffee, but to also grab a beer.

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100,000 Opportunities Initiative

635723161675547989-howardschultzEven as the U.S economy has improved, unemployment among young people particularly African Americans and other minorities remain high. The overall teenage unemployment was 18.1 percent in June and 31.5 percent in African American teens. Many companies including Walmart, Walgreens, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Hilton, J.P Morgan etc. have joined a coalition in opening job opportunities, apprenticeships and internships for teens and young adults who face systemic barriers to jobs and education. Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks, said “By using our scale to create pathways to affordable education and meaningful employment for these young men and women, we’re strengthening both our workforce and our economy.”

Companies like Starbucks already generally employ man young people. Nearly 80 percent of Starbucks’ workforce is comprised of Millennials, and is committed to hiring at least 10,000 opportunity youth over the next three years. They have also included a tuition reimbursement program were those who earn an online bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University will be reimbursed. Taco Bell, has also been an active supporter of employing young people where more than 1 million teens since the company’s opening have been employed. Taco Bell is preparing to create 50,000 new jobs for teens. Likewise, employees have a variety of online options to earn their GED or college degrees as a benefit in working for Taco Bell.

Many companies and restaurants joining the 100,000 Opportunities initiative are advocates in creating more opportunities for teens and young adults in both jobs and education. The effort will kick off with an Opportunity Fair and Forum in Chicago on Aug. 13th where companies expect to train more than 2,000 youth and make 200 job offers on the spot. Company leaders are hoping that they will “create pathways of opportunity for the literally millions of young people who can benefit from this program”

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