Hot chocolate, peppermint mocha, and a cocktail?

Hot chocolate, peppermint mocha, and a cocktail?

Photo by Julia Reagan.

Offering beer and wine at local Starbucks sparks mixed reactions.

By Julia Reagan, Staff Writer

Over the next few years, Starbucks, a warm and cozy coffeehouse, may be changing its image to a trendy bar. Starbucks released plans in late January to introduce alcoholic drinks in 25 of its locations by the end of the year.
“The drinks will be added to several stores in the Chicago area, Atlanta and Southern California,” said Morgan, a Starbucks Relations Specialist of the Starbucks Customer Service hotline.  “The alcoholic beverages will be sold starting at 2 p.m.”
According to a Jan. 23 ABC News article, the company hopes to attract more customers in the evening including community groups such as book clubs and high-end customers.
The introduction of beer and wine to the Starbucks lineup may pose a number of issues.  Some students feel that adding alcoholic beverages will change the atmosphere of the store. 
“Adding beer and wine would hinder Starbucks’ audience because parents wouldn’t feel comfortable with their kids going to a coffee shop that also sells alcohol,” sophomore Bailey Hill said.
Parent Mindy Maggid believes that adding alcohol is unnecessary. 
“I think that the alcohol is a temptation,” Maggid said.  “For many people Starbucks is more of an afternoon place so I don’t see the alcohol as a necessity.”
Social studies teacher and coffee-lover Arthur Bescher, however, feels that the Starbucks atmosphere will not change.
“I think that it will stay a café environment,” Bescher said.  “I do not think that people will be turned off by it.  I doubt that drunks and people who drink a lot will go to Starbucks.”
According to a Jan. 23 USA Today article, the company said that it would only add the alcoholic beverages to select stores where it is relevant to the neighborhood. For example, the drinks may just be added to locations with an older crowd of customers who can drink.
Many students believe that by serving alcohol, Starbucks will need to be concerned with patrons driving drunk.  In order to protect its customers, Starbucks is putting controls in place to prevent its customers from driving while intoxicated.
“The Starbucks employees behind the bar serving the alcoholic beverages will all be over the age of 21 and will receive special training,” Morgan said.  “Similar to bartenders, the employees will not serve the beer and wine to any intoxicated people.”
The company feels that many customers will favor the addition of alcoholic beverages.
According to a Jan. 23 USA Today article, this new introduction is beneficial because larger groups looking for a relaxing meeting spot may see Starbucks as the perfect location for drinks which could help attract more customers in the evening.
According to Morgan, in addition to their regular drinks, Starbucks will also be selling fresh juices in many company-operated locations, leading some to questions whether the company is moving away from its original focus as a premium coffeehouse. 
“Starbucks is losing its identity as a coffee shop and community location,” Hill said.  “Adding alcohol to the menu will create a harsher and less homey vibe throughout the restaurant.”
Others feel that Starbucks is no different than other cafés in introducing the alcoholic beverages.
“Europeans cafés all sell beer and wine, so it will not be any different if Starbucks sells the drinks,” Bescher said.