A Starbucks location once destined for closure has re-emerged as 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea. No Starbucks logo. No venti-sized cups. No sassy promotional signage. No automated espresso machines. The location is designed to look, feel, and act not like a Starbucks, but rather a one-off local boutique coffee shop.
On the surface, it appears to be an odd move. Why spend so many years building a global brand only to reject most everything about it? The answer … TO LEARN.
This is clearly an experiment, a four-wall enclosed retail petri dish. It’s a way for Starbucks to RE-learn some of the personal touches it has lost due to making so many compromises in order to grow to over 16,000 locations in 40-plus countries around the world. (We’ve gone over all these compromises on past Starbucks postings so read-up if need be.)
Some of these re-learning opportunities include:
Coffee served at 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea is roasted in small batches and brewed within days of roasting. (Coffee served at Starbucks is roasted in mega-huge industrial machines and could be months before it is brewed in-store.)
Espresso served at 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea is drawn from a classic La Marzocco machine and baristas will add latte art flair to drinks. (Starbucks uses automated espresso machines and baristas are too busy to add latte art touches to espresso drinks.)
Passion for coffee oozes at 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea. Limited-edition roasts are served through single-serving low-tech brewers (pour-over, press pots) or a high-tech brewer (Clover). (Starbucks uses large-scale brewers to mass brew gallons at a time.)
Pastries served at 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea are from a local bakery. Baked daily and delivered daily. (Starbucks sells lots of “thaw and serve” pastries baked in far-off places that are then frozen, packed, and shipped to stores for serving days later.)
Ambiance at 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea will be warm, welcoming, eclectic, and subtle. (Ambiance at nearly every Starbucks is uniformly clean, cold, and sterile.)
15th Ave. Coffee & Tea is not a growth vehicle for Starbucks. Can’t be. It’s too expensive and time-intensive to scale. It can only be viewed as a learning opportunity for Starbucks.
Perhaps some of the learnings on how to add personal touches will find its way back into the Starbucks experience thanks to the company’s petri dish known as 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea.