Starbucks Quietly Tested an Entirely Plant-Based Food Location
The test, which took place near Seattle, has since concluded, but plant-based menu items are here to stay.
Part of Starbucks' success is the brand's willingness to go with the flow. From recyclable cups to cashless stores, if something is trending in the public consciousness, Starbucks is usually willing to at least give it a try. That applies to their menu, too, which has seen more plant-based options—things like their Impossible Foods breakfast sandwich and the nationwide oat milk rollout. But here's one wild test that flew completely under the radar: Starbucks trialed an entirely plant-based food store.
The revelation was tucked into Starbucks' most recent earnings call last month. Asked about changing customer behavior with regard to food purchased, CEO Kevin Johnson responded, "If I were to say what is probably the most dominant shift in consumer behavior is this whole shift to plant-based. And that is a shift both in beverage and in food." Moments later, he then added, "And in fact, we have one Starbucks store here in the Seattle area that we've gone to 100-percent plant-based food menu. We use that as sort of a test area when we innovate and create things."
A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed that the coffee giant "tested a variety of plant-based items at one store near Seattle last year." However, they then added, "The test has since concluded." Unfortunately, they weren't able to share the specific location or the exact time frame during which it happened—though that would all be a moot point now anyway.
However, the company rep did offer up a larger statement on Starbucks' plant-based plans. "Building on Starbucks sustainability commitment, the company's goal is to expand plant-based choices as an environmentally friendly menu contributes to our goal to be a resource positive company," they said. "Starbucks continues to introduce new drinks and food to menus globally while innovating with plant-based ingredients across key platforms like espresso, cold brew, refreshment, food and more. We aim to provide our customers a variety of choices as part of their Starbucks experience."
And going back to the earnings call, Johnson did also comment that customers are "seeing more and more plant-based proteins in our food menu." So a completely plant-based store or not, that's apparently a trend that's sticking around for the time being.