Starbucks continued to make a push to be known for more than coffee Thursday by revealing a plan to open a specialty tea shop near its company headquarters on the southern edge of Seattle's Ravena neighborhood. The 1,700 square foot shop will operate under Starbucks' Tazo tea brand, and will feature more than 80 different varieties of tea leaves sold by the ounce when it open this fall. The store will have a tea bar, where customers will be able to purchase teas and lattes just like in a standard Starbucks, the company is counting on the store's planned blending station to lure in customers.
Starbucks is focusing on the experience as the main drawing factor for the tea store, where customers will not just come in, pick out a tea and leave, but will spend time talking about different teas to find the perfect blend. The new tea shop concept is not the first attempt by the world's largest coffee chain has tried to branch out. The company bought the Evolution Juice brand last November for $30 million and has already opened the first of a planned series of juice bars in Seattle. Then less than 3 weeks ago, in its biggest non-coffee-related acquisition ever, the company bought Bay Bread, a 19-store, San Francisco-based bakery chain, for $100 billion. Starbucks said it will not only carry Bay's La Boulange-branded pastries and breads, but plans to take the chain national.
Tazo has proven a successful venture for Starbucks, a spokesman said, because it is sold not only in Starbucks locations, but also in grocery stores, convenience stores and now will be sold in its own tea shop. Starbucks only paid $1.8 million to take over the Tazo brand in 1999, and has grown it into a $1.4 billion brand, based on last year's revenue. There are currently no plans for any other tea shop locations, but the company is committed to continued growth of the Tazo brand. In addition, Starbucks is continuing with a partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to sell Starbucks-branded K-Cups for GMCR's brewing machines, and will also launch the Verismo, a Starbucks-branded single-serve brewer of it own, later this year.