Reviewer finds a stealth Starbucks in Seattle

There are over 15,000 Starbucks in the world but none like the one at 328 15th Avenue East in Seattle.

Officially the coffee shop is called “15th Ave Coffee and Tea” but the store and a similar sister location have earned another name: “the Stealth Starbucks.”

At first glance the coffee shops in the mega-chain’s hometown of Seattle do not even look like Starbucks…

The only hint that the store is owned by the coffee giant and not a local java seller is the “Inspired by Starbucks” lettering across the front door

Inside, pages from Plato’s dialogues decorate an entire wall, sweeteners sit on a bathtub converted into a table, beer and wine are for sale and employees dole out customized drip coffees along with advice on which are the best beans.

At every turn, the message seems to be here “it’s about the coffee…”

If customers enjoy the “stealth” Starbucks experience without linking it immediately to the coffee giant that’s fine with the creators of the concept, said Arthur Rubinfeld, Starbucks’ president of global development.

“These are learning environments for us to be innovative and push the envelope, Starbucks customers worldwide have come to expect a certain amount of offerings and timing in our stores we wanted to change things up here but didn’t want to disappoint any of our customers,” Rubinfeld…

According to Arthur Rubinfeld the “stealth” stores are not a departure from the brand but an effort to get back to the basics of the successful product that launched the company from a small single location coffee shop to a worldwide phenomenon.

Prototyping is a useful tool in a lot of businesses. At retail – you had better consider the context of the test as well.

3 thoughts on “Reviewer finds a stealth Starbucks in Seattle

  1. jvtripioauthor says:

    I like to joke that I worked at Starbucks back when it sold coffee. (in Chicago from 1990-1994). Having said that, I found it to be an inclusive and exciting workplace, with great free coffee. Since Starbucks went public in mid -1992, it lost that unique vibe and now has to be all things to all people to keep Wall Street happy. There is no going back.

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