Starbucks Is Betting On Lunch

Photographed by Nicole Maroon.
Starbucks recently made a glittery entrance into spring with its Crystal Ball Frappuccino, but we don't need a fortune-telling beverage to know that the latest offering is only a small part of what the coffee giant has planned for 2018. Last week, Starbucks held its annual shareholder's meeting, during which it announced some of its upcoming initiatives. The executives had a lot to say, which is understandable, but we're guessing the average Starbucks customer doesn't want to sift through a nearly 40-page meeting transcript. So, we did it for you, and we picked out the three announcements we think fans will be most excited to see coming this year.

More Cold Drinks

There is a special type of person out there that drinks iced coffee all year round, and though some may find that practice odd, Starbucks is embracing it. At the recent shareholder’s meeting, the company’s chief operating officer, Rosalind Brewer, explained that cold beverages are going to be a focus in 2018. Right now, Starbucks serves Nitro cold brew at 2,300 stores, but by the end of this year, it hopes to have expanded the drink to 4,000 locations. Brewer also mentioned that "the next generation of nitro" was on its way.
Non-coffee drinkers will be happy to know that Brewer also teased the expansion of Starbucks Refreshers. The company plans to roll out "new unique flavors and colors" of the beverage this summer.

Lunch Menu Innovations

Starbucks may be first and foremost a coffee chain, but this year, its looking to concentrate a little bit more on food, and not just the items you'd traditionally enjoy with coffee first thing in the morning. Brewer explained, "the biggest opportunity for food innovation is for lunch." This year, that lunch innovation will come from expanding the chain's lunch menu to include more offerings. Though the Mercato menu has rolled out regionally, according to Starbucks, it will be available at over 1,000 locations by 2018's close. The company will also be looking to innovate lunchtime by improving the lunch items it already offers nationwide like Bistro Boxes.

Expanded Vegan & Plant-Based Options

During the question and answer portion of Starbucks' 2018 shareholders meeting, a representative for Compassion Over Killing asked if and when Starbucks would introduce more "hearty vegan food options." Brewer responded that more plant-based options would be part of its food innovation plan we mentioned above. She said, "We do have a line that we would love to share with our customers later this year. So, it's in our plans."
We reached out to our Starbucks representative to see if we could find out any more details about the chain's plan for more vegan food, but the rep was unable to share additional information at this time. "We are definitely aware of our customer’s interest and enthusiasm for more plant-based products he told Refinery29, echoing Brewer's comments.

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