Starbucks announces new initiatives

by Staff
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SEATTLE — Howard Schultz, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks Coffee Co., unveiled several new initiatives planned for the Seattle-based company that are focused on improving U.S. business, developing an emotional attachment with customers and making foundational changes for the long-term.

The initiatives, detailed at the company’s annual shareholders meeting on March 19, include the acquisition of The Coffee Equipment Co. and its Clover brewing system; brewing coffee in-store; a new espresso system; the first phase of a Starbucks Card Rewards program; the development of an online community; and an expanded relationship with Conservation International.

"Eleven weeks ago, I made a personal commitment to every one of our customers and partners to reaffirm our place as the world’s coffee authority," Mr. Schultz said. "By embracing our heritage, returning to our core — all things coffee — and our relentless commitment to innovation, we will reignite the emotional connection we have with our customers and transform the Starbucks Experience. I am confident that the ground-breaking initiatives we’ve announced today demonstrate our laser focus on living up to that commitment. We know that this is just the beginning, but we also know that there has never been a more exhilarating or promising time in our history."

Specifically, the Clover system allows a barista to make one freshly brewed cup of coffee at a time and blends the vacuum pot and coffee press methods.

"Strategically, this acquisition will demonstrate our commitment to provide Starbucks customers with individual brewed cups of the rarest and most exotic Starbucks coffee using the Clover brewing system," Mr. Schultz said.

In addition, starting in mid-April, the new Pike Place Roast coffee will be brewed in every U.S. company-operated store every day.

Starbucks also is introducing the Mastrena espresso machine, which grinds every shot to order and allows for consistency of espresso shots and more options for milk steaming and customization. The company plans for 75% of U.S. company-operated stores to have the machine by the end of 2010.

In April, the company will introduce benefits for registered Starbucks Card holders, including complimentary customization on select syrups, a complimentary tall beverage of choice with the purchase of 1 lb of whole bean coffee, free refills on brewed coffee, two hours daily of free in-store Wi-Fi, and the opportunity to join Starbucks in supporting charitable causes.

With the launch of an on-line community at, the company hopes to develop a dialogue between community members and Starbucks, create a space for customers to share ideas and shape the company as well as to build an open forum to share Starbucks.

Finally, the company has expanded its efforts to promote ethically sourced coffee as it has renewed a relationship with Conservation International. The new five-year global commitment with C.I. will work to help climate change by supporting farmers who are preserving forests in coffee regions with two launch sites in Indonesia and Mexico. The company also is introducing a new mark for its coffee that symbolizes the partnership and represents responsibly grown and ethically sourced coffee.

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