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Will Starbucks decision to serve booze impact independent coffee shops?

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – It’ll be just as easy to sip a cold beer as it will be a hot coffee in Starbucks beginning next month but what does that mean for smaller independent coffee shops?

Will the big chain’s move force them to keep up or shut down?

Ian Tostenson with the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association (BCRFA) says Starbucks will likely only have a few locations on board with booze so smaller local java joints will be fine if they stick to what they’re doing.

“Some people say ‘I’m in coffee, I do coffee really well and that’s as far as I’m going to go and I don’t have any space to do anything else and I want to be the best at doing that.'”
As far as space goes, most won’t be able to expand enough to get a liquor license.

Tostenson doesn’t think there will be much competition with pubs either as they generally attract a distinctly different crowd.

“I actually think that we’re going to get an incremental effect here, that people who are going to have a glass of wine may go there (Starbucks) but you wouldn’t necessarily go to Starbucks to drink the craft beer. I don’t think it puts anybody at risk here, I think they will up the game a little bit. I really think it adds to the overall ambience of our industry and I don’t think it’s going to distract from it.”

He says most local coffee shops will likely stick to what they do best.

But could move spark a new genre of caffeinated-cocktail?

“It might. You could see maybe some latte art around some alcoholic beverages for sure, absolutely. The creativity is unlimited with a place like Starbucks that has such a deep appreciation for innovation.”

Starbucks already serves alcohol at some US locations.