The opening of yet another Starbucks store usually isn't cause for excitement, but the coffee giant's latest shop, Evolution Fresh in Bellevue, Wash., is turning heads. You won't find any "baristas" or "venti" cups here — instead, customers will be treated to fresh-squeezed fruit-and-veggie concoctions made by "juice partners." The store, possibly the first in a chain, will also carry bottled juices and healthy foods, part of an attempt to tap into a growing craze for stuff that's good for you. And with drinks like "Field of Greens" and "Coconut Zen," neither of which carries a molecule of caffeine, Evolution Fresh is Starbucks' most conspicuous attempt to expand beyond a ubiquitous coffee business that is starting to run up against its limits. Will it work?
Evolution Fresh will face challenges: "Starbucks is about to find out just how much it can squeeze out of its brand," says Bruce Horovitz at USA Today. The coffee chain is hoping it can "attract a different type of well-to-do consumer" than those who line up at its coffee outlets every day, but that's no easy task. The prices at Evolution Fresh are not for the faint of heart: "A full-size juice and salad (or sandwich) could set you back the better part of $20." That's "no Happy Meal." If Evolution Fresh fails, "Starbucks may have to go back to the drawing board and rethink if and how it can still dream beyond the bean."
"Starbucks to open first Evolution Fresh juice store"
But Starbucks isn't just focused on juice joints: The store at Bellevue "will be closely watched" as a gauge of Evolution Fresh's popularity, says Lisa Baertlein at Reuters. But Starbucks has a much grander vision for the brand, hoping to sell a "broader range of products" through "grocery stores and other retail outlets." Evolution Fresh will compete for shelf space with Naked Juice and Odwalla, which are owned by Pepsi and Coke, respectively. Tapping into that potentially massive retail market is where Evolution Fresh's real potential lies.
"Starbucks goes beyond coffee with first juice bar"
And Starbucks is a proven adapter: "Starbucks has grown up" in the last four years, says Melissa Allison at The Seattle Times. In 2008, its stocks and profits were at a low, but with the leadership of CEO Howard Schultz, the company "bounced back stronger than anyone predicted." Starbucks was adding seven new stores a day in 2007, which saturated the market. Today, it's adding just two a day, while focusing on China and other emerging economies and adding new businesses that "could yield enormous profits." Clearly, Starbucks "is not sitting still," and that's a good thing.
"More thoughtful, still innovative Starbucks back steaming hot"