Starbucks First Foray Into the Cocktail World Mixes Espresso and IPA

By Noah Kaufman |


In 2015 Starbucks started rolling out boozy options at select stores in its Starbucks Evenings program.  Participating shops added beer and wine as well as a full menu of small plates. So far, the after hours plan has worked well enough to get added to 450 Starbucks in the US and Canada. The success seems natural: People like Starbucks and people like beer and wine. But do they like them together? That’s the question raised in the newest offering at Evenings stores—the Espresso Cloud IPA. You know Starbucks is serious about its new drink because the company has already trademarked it.

A creation of barista Justin Burns-Beach who works in Starbucks’ research and development department, the new beer cocktail is simple: Starbucks espresso shaken with orange and mixed with an IPA (since the beers vary by region, the particular beer is different from store to store). Burns-Beach said that all he wanted in the beginning was the smooth foam he got from shaking the espresso to add to the beer and give it a coffee-tinged head. But he was pleasantly surprised when he poured the rest of the espresso shot into the pint glass as well.


A coffee IPA mix might sound odd at first but isn’t without precedent. Well-respected craft beer heavyweights like Stone and Mikkeller have tried it in the past. And as Starbucks says in its description of the drink, the citrus notes in the espresso and beer should play well together. But whether the Espresso Cloud will be the next PSL or the next Cherries Jubilee Mocha (what do you mean you don’t remember the Cherries Jubilee Mocha??) remains to be seen. But you’ll be able to get the new drink at any Starbucks Evening store starting immediately. If you stop by for happy hour, make sure to let us know how you like it.  


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