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Brief Published: 8 Feb 2012

Starbucks’ New Brew


International coffeehouse chain Starbucks will soon be offering US customers a new kind of pick-me-up – by selling booze at selected outlets by the end of 2012.

Four to six new or revamped branches in Southern California will offer an expanded menu that includes beer and wine by the end of the year. Starbucks is also planning to introduce alcohol to some branches in Atlanta and Chicago.

The expanded menu is already available in five outlets in Starbucks’ hometown Seattle, and one branch in Portland. Customers can buy beers including Rogue Dead Guy Ale, for $5 (£3), and wines like Pinot Noir and Malbec for $7 (£4) to $9 (£5) per glass respectively.

Starbucks’ foray into alcohol may seem bizarre to some, but it once again proves the brand’s willingness to try new things. Last month, the chain launched the Payment by Starbucks app in the UK, which allows customers to pay for their drinks with their iPhones. The brand also introduced the Starbucks Cup Magic – an augmented reality app for customers to interact with their coffee cups – in December 2011.

This new venture is sure to set Starbucks even further apart from its competitors. However, according to market researcher Euromonitor, there is one major pitfall: beer sales in the US have been steadily declining since 2010. With unemployment lingering at around 10% until 2012, the forecast for beer sales remains sober.