Starbucks launches subscription coffee delivery service

Starbucks has officially launched a mail subscription service in which customers are delivered bags of some of the roaster’s rarest blends on a monthly basis. For the layperson who wants nothing more than a strong cup of Joe on the go, this may seem like nothing more than a move to enter the grocery delivery market. But members of online culinary arts programs can likely see that Starbucks is trying to appeal to the growing population of coffee-drinkers opting for third-wave roasters. All in all, the Seattle-based company is trying to develop new methods for maintaining a dominant position in the coffee industry.

The Starbucks subscription service 
According to a news release, those who subscribe to the delivery service will receive small-batch reserve coffees that are only available through the subscription or at the Starbucks Seattle Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. The roastery is a new concept from Starbucks that opened in December 2014. The 15,000 square foot space in the company’s hometown of Seattle specializes in rare coffees roasted in-house, includes a restaurant and emphasizes coffee education, according to Eater.

Starbucks estimates brewing 1.4 million pounds of reserve coffee in 2015 and ensures that subscribers will have their coffee delivered within three to five days of it being roasted. In the news release, Starbucks president and chief executive officer Howard Schultz stated:

“The Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room has redefined what customers expect from a brick-and-mortar retail experience. Combining the magic of this unique retail theater with our digital infrastructure brings two of our best assets together and ensures that customers can experience the world’s rarest coffees in the privacy of their own homes or anywhere else they might want the most premium coffee we offer.”

A changing industry 
Starbucks has increasingly focused on rebranding its coffeehouses and products to align more with a growing market that favors quality beans over seasonal drinks loaded with sugar. Of course, the company still relies on signature holiday beverages such as pumpkin lattes and peppermint mochas. These contradicting philosophies have made Starbuck’s image somewhat disparate as of late. With third-wave roasters such as Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia and Stumptown booming, it will be difficult for the Seattle-based roaster to redefine itself to appeal to this niche market. Eater notes that Blue Bottle launched its own coffee subscription service last year, so it will take some time to see whether Starbucks can make a dent in this portion of an evolving industry.

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