First Starbucks Express Opens on Wall Street

By Mike Pomranz |

© Newscast / Alamy

Watch out, old Starbucks locations. The coffee company has opened up a first-of-its-kind new concept store dubbed Starbuck Express—and it’s leaner and meaner than your typical ‘Bucks, though mostly because Starbucks seems to be running out of space to open new stores.

Cutely billed as an “espresso shot” version of your typical Starbucks, the brand claims, “This new express-format store will be one of the most streamlined experiences in the company’s portfolio.”

But unless you hit one during peak hours, Starbucks isn’t really known for being a particularly slow café experience. So what’s so “express” about this new design?

Express means faster, and this small, 538-square-foot space located in the hustle and bustle of New York City’s Wall Street aims to get people in and out at the speed of a stock trade. Orders are taken by employees on handheld devices as soon as customers enter. And if you want an even quicker turnaround, mobile point-of-sale positions are located throughout the store.

But express has also come to imply smaller, and in many ways this test format seems mainly to be an exercise in working within tiny spaces. “This location on Wall Street was intentionally designed to take what’s at the heart of our cafés and distill that for a smaller space,” said Bill Sleeth, Starbucks vice president for store design. “It is the perfect example of how to balance high design, attention to detail and efficiency, while maintaining what is unique to who we are—our coffee and the connection between our customers and partners.” Replacing the traditional Starbucks menu is a digital display board that rotates on the screens with options tailored to New York customers’ tastes. The counter, too, has been reimagined. “It was a small space, so it was important that we keep it as open as possible,” said Starbucks senior architectural designer John Park. “The bar is low and kitchen framed wide, like a show kitchen, so our partners are able to interact with customers from every point in the space.”

Another thing you won’t find in this express Starbucks: much room to hang out. If you’re used to plopping down with your laptop for hours on end, using Starbucks as an occasional office, this location is not for you. In fact, there’s not a chair in sight. At this Starbucks, you get in, and you get out.

Four more express-style locations are scheduled to open in New York in 2015 as part of this pilot program. As Nation’s Restaurant News points out, though Starbucks already has 22,000 locations around the world, they’ve pledged to up that number to more than 30,000 locations in the next five years. So though the idea of “express” may imply some additional speediness, it seems like these mini Starbuckses are more about finding a way to keep squeezing in all those new Starbucks locations. Up next: your own personal Starbucks in your closet. 

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