Starbucks eyes juice-bar business

Expanding the cafe menu could help bring more afternoon traffic and repeat customers.

By Kim Peterson Oct 13, 2011 12:26PM
Starbucks(SBUX) as a juice bar? According to news reports, the coffee giant may soon add smoothies, wheatgrass and acai to its menu.

The New York Post reports that Starbucks has just hired Yohana Bencosme, the former manager of the trendy Manhattan juice bar Liquiteria. Bencosme's new job is to train staffers in Starbucks' Seattle headquarters.

One source tells the Post that Starbucks' chief executive, Howard Schultz, made many visits to Liquiteria and other juice bars in the area. "He spent a lot of time checking out the juices," the source says. "Then he went in for the kill and hired Yohana."

The owner of Liquiteria confirmed the news, saying Bencosme was like his daughter. "He befriended us, asked about our concept, then took her. It is a huge slap in the face."

What's next for Starbucks' stock? Analysts give their opinions in the following video.

Post continues below.
The same source says Schultz wants to add pressed-juice "grab and go" bars to his cafes. Starbucks investors seemed to shrug at the news. Shares were down less than 1% Thursday to $41.26.

Starbucks is massively expanding its supermarket business, with ambitious plans to add a number of billion-dollar brands to grocery store shelves. But we haven't heard much about moves to change its cafes.

Would juice bars make sense at Starbucks? The very idea triggered a 3.5% drop in the stock price of Jamba Juice owner Jamba (JMBA) on Thursday.

Starbucks is desperate to bring in more afternoon traffic and even offers an afternoon discount to morning customers in many areas. Smoothies and other juice items would help draw the lunch and afternoon crowds. They would also appeal to children.

Starbucks has experimented with other beverages and has opened some cafes more focused on beer and wine. So it makes sense that the company would give serious thought to smoothies and juices.

Tags: SBUX
Oct 13, 2011 11:57PM
I like the idea. I enjoy spending time at several Starbucks and would love to have the option of fresh juices. I believe it would bring in more customers who don't drink coffee.
Oct 13, 2011 2:48PM
This is an interesting idea.  It could work IF this new drink business does not ruin the good SERVICE and coffee drinks that have made Starbucks the winner it is.  If the stores that carry these new drinks steal space and employees time Starbucks will loose big time!
Oct 13, 2011 11:29PM

 I guess it would depend on what Starbuck's decided to add to their menu. I can't say its a terrible idea, because it would probably not only appeal to their already existant customer base, but maybe attract non coffee drinkers, and as this article says, possibly kids.   I have always thought Starbuck's was WAY overpriced. I personally  would just go to Jamba juice if i wanted a smoothie.

Oct 14, 2011 12:38AM
Hiring is a plus..good for Starbucks,,
Oct 14, 2011 12:11AM

If Starbucks chooses to provide fresh prepared Juices/Smoothies made from real fresh fruits and veggies, they may grab a market that currently has few choices and would love to have a fresh juice any time of day.


If they go the Jamba Juice route with high sugar smoothies, they may not get it.


We shall see...

Oct 14, 2011 2:45AM
Been doing refrigeration repairs for a vendor for SBUX for over 5 years and in that time they changed all their syrups from corn to sugar based.Tonite I replaced an ice machine tonite that was only 6 years old and working. NO MOLD ON THE OLD MACHINE! They are great with product quality and cleanliness. Don't hang there on off time for I'm a metal head and their music blows!
Oct 14, 2011 12:07AM
Great idea, Jamba Juice is nothing but juice, flavored ice anyway.  In a word Jamba Juice is horrible.  Smoothie King on the other hand is awesome.  With that said markets without a Smoothie King would mean lots of business for a Starbucks juice bar in my opinion.
Oct 13, 2011 9:47PM
I have not entered a Starbucks since their debacle on 9/11 when they charged full price for water to people comong in covered in debris fro the collapse of the WTC
Oct 14, 2011 12:36AM
I have never been in Starbucks ,sounds like a good plan for a juice bar I'll check it out.Best Wishes.
Jan 9, 2012 10:48PM
Bad idea, coffee addicts want their fix now and hate standing in line behind the fruity frappe blender crowd. Been there and looked for another coffee shop.
Jan 9, 2012 9:08PM
I think this is an awesome idea! I don't feel as if there are a lot of options for healthy drinks, so if they go in the right direction in making their smoothies with fresh fruit and not loaded with sugar, then they'll be doing well. I hang out at Sbux quite often to study and sometimes I just don't feel like a caffeinated beverage, I would totally buy a refreshing smoothie, if I had the choice! :) 
Oct 13, 2011 10:10PM
Smile I don't care too much about Starbuck's plan.  Two visits, too costly, not significant taste.  Guess their marketing plan (a store on every corner) has worked for will not last.  What we need is a sustaining growth in our markets...let's hope tomorrow brings 100 points to the upside.
Oct 13, 2011 2:19PM
I don't know what exactly Starbucks has in mind, but in my part of the country, "JUICE BARS" are strip clubs that don't or can't serve liquor.  In Oregon, this avoids have to deal with the Liquor Control Commission and follow their rules about combining liquor and nudity.. 
Oct 13, 2011 3:28PM
   I have only been to Starbucks once, I got a regular coffee with cream. It was the worst coffee I have ever tasted!  7-11 has much better regular coffee.
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