Photograph by Joe Raedle — Getty Images
By Kia Kokalitcheva
July 23, 2015

Car rides and coffee go together like… ride-hailing company Lyft and coffee empire Starbucks.

The two companies on Wednesday announced a partnership that lets Lyft drivers and passengers earn My Starbucks Rewards loyalty points that can be redeemed for food and drinks at Starbucks stores. Lyft drivers will also be able to sign up as gold status members in the program.

The partnership pairs Starbuck (SBUX), the 44-year-old coffee chain that dominates its industry, with a tech upstart that is a distant second in its field. Lyft, founded three years ago, is battling rival Uber. With this partnership, Lyft is trying to differentiate itself and help build loyalty.

Retaining drivers is a critical front in the riding hailing wars. Both Lyft and Uber have used aggressive tactics to poach each other’s drivers through big cash rewards. Simple things like letting passengers tip their drivers through the app with Starbucks “stars,” or points, can help drivers feel more appreciated by Lyft.

With that said, Uber has forged several of its own partnerships including one that lets Capital One credit card holders get $25 in free ice cream delivered to their doorstep this week. Another with Spotify lets passengers in certain cars play disc jokey on the car stereo from their smartphones.

As part of the partnership with Lyft, Starbucks said it will also “explore” ways to provide transportation for Starbucks employees to and from work in one test market, although it didn’t provide additional details. Lyft has already entered the work transportation market, however, with the launch last year of a program for employers to provide credits to their employees for work-related rides.

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