Starbucks goes upscale with a high-end coffee subscription plan

February 17, 2015, 6:32 PM UTC
Courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks is taking its coffee to a new level.

The coffee shop chain said Tuesday it plans to offer subscription delivery of “reserve” coffees — a service that will cost $288 annually for 12 shipments of 8.8-ounce bags of coffee.

The move will allow for greater access to some of the rarer coffees that Starbucks (SBUX) often sells for a limited time.

Last year, the coffee giant opened its first-ever tasting room, a 15,000 square-foot interactive retail store dedicated to roasting and coffee education. The small-lot coffees that Starbucks intends to sell through its new service will be roasted at the new facility. Starbucks has said it will roast a projected 1.4 million pounds of small lot coffee in the first year after the tasting room’s opening.

The new service is meant to ship the premium-priced coffee almost immediately after roasting. Starbucks said customers will receive their coffee within three to five days of being roasted. Orders can be processed for a single month ($24.99), three months ($72), six months ($144) and the full year. Of the rare coffees Starbucks is crafting, it said a specific line is being roasted for the new monthly subscription service.

Starbucks, like its main rival Dunkin’ Donuts (DNKN), already has a delivery service in place. A lot of food and beverage companies have tinkered with delivery services over the years. Snacks, beers, even entire meals are being shipped to consumer homes, with many offering a monthly delivery option for the customers most loyal to the brands.

But the latest offer by Starbucks is also commanding a very lofty price point. Dunkin’ Donuts has a subscription plan for the company’s dark roast ground coffee, which costs just a little over $100 a year. But Starbucks has indicated that it sees a lot of growth potential for rarer coffees, which are getting attention in specialty shops and independent coffee stores.
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