Starbucks starts selling alcohol

Emma Woollacott
Customers drinking wine at Starbucks
Customers drinking wine at Starbucks

Not content with satisfying the nation's thirst for skinny lattes, Starbucks has announced plans to start selling booze.

The US coffee shop chain is launching its Evenings Programme in the UK, offering a range of meals and shareable hot and cold snacks with premium wines and beers.

Amongst the items on offer will be chorizo and prawn skewers with chilli ketchup, truffle mac & cheese and braised British beef, as well as the usual daytime range.

All these can all be washed down with a range of five white wines, four reds and a rosé, as well as Magners Original cider and Peroni Nastro Azzurro beer.

"We are delighted to launch the first Evenings Programme in the UK. Providing a welcoming coffeehouse environment has always been our focus and now we can offer something new for the evening too," says Ian Cranna, vice president of marketing and category for Starbucks EMEA.

"I think our customers will love the new range of terrific food and carefully selected wines and beers which will provide even more choice and reasons to visit us later in the day."

The first outlet to take part will be the newly-renovated Stansted Airport store, operated in partnership with food travel company SSP. Other outlets in transport hubs will follow, and the company's considering expanding it to more of its 700 stores.

Depending on the location, the expanded menu will appear and the booze will start flowing at 4pm every day. There'll be a "more mellow, less hurried atmosphere perfect for winding down and having casual conversations," the company says. There are no plans to start offering spirits.

The company's already running Starbucks Evenings in 30 locations in the US, in Seattle, Portland, Southern California, Chicago and Atlanta.

"Starbucks is a brand which is synonymous with great coffee and introducing this programme will tempt our coffee lovers to experience a new range of delicious foods and carefully selected alcoholic beverages in our newly renovated store," says Simon Smith, SSP's CEO for the UK and Ireland.

Starbucks is currently the largest specialist coffee shop in the country, but has been harmed by revelations about the amount of tax it's been paying in the UK. Last year, it reported its first ever fall in sales, after customers boycotted it over its tax avoidance methods. Perhaps the new move will help it, er, turn a profit?

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