First it took over every street corner in America; now it’s trying to corner the market on alcoholic beverages. That’s right: Starbucks is bringing alcohol to more of your neighborhood cafes.
It all started in 2009, when Starbucks started selling wine in some Washington and Oregon cafes. Apparently, the little experiment hit its profit targets. The mega-chain now plans to expand alcohol sales to at least a dozen more outlets in Southern California, Chicago and Atlanta. Now, the public can not only count on Starbucks to buzz them up in the morning with a shot(s) of caffeine, but to slow them back down at night with alcohol. How would you like your Merlot – in a grande (16 oz) or a venti (20 oz) cup? Maybe a trenta (31 oz), without ice?
While adding alcohol to the menu may add up to lots more cash register ka-chings for Starbucks, it also adds up to more potential for alcohol-related harm in the more than 12,000 US neighborhoods that Starbucks inhabits. It will ratchet up the “alcohol-is-everywhere” social norms for high school and college students who study and hang out in its cafes.
If Starbucks is really dedicated to supporting communities around the world (as it says on its own website), it should start by reviewing the cost and kinds of alcohol-related harm going on in these communities. Then it should commit to not increasing that harm by increasing access to alcohol, especially for young people.
*Image courtesy of Global Grind
Alcohol Justice is the Industry Watchdog, and you can find their official blog here.