An evening at Starbucks with wine or a craft beer-- it's not something you'd usually expect.  Get a first person perspective on how it feels to go into a place that has sold only coffee products for over 20 years and finally starts to offer libations!

In March of 2014, Starbucks announced they would expand the sale of alcohol to many of their locations across the nation. In late July of 2015 it was announced that locations in Northern Colorado would indeed be a part of that, with sales of wine and beer beginning in September.

Well, I couldn’t wait until September.  I saw that some stores in the Denver area had started in August, so I went along with my girlfriend Amber to check it out.

It definitely felt weird to go to a Starbucks knowing I’d be ordering a glass of wine. See? I thought they were only selling wine. Nope-- they have craft beers as well.  The location that we were at, 104th at Tower Road, had about six different beers.  Amber and I enjoy craft beers, so we opted for those over wine.  Amber had a True Blonde from Ska Brewing, and I had a bottle of Titan IPA from Great Divide; both were about $6. No shots though, just wine and craft beer.

The do have a great selection of wines!  We could have chosen from TEN different wines priced from $7 a glass up to $14 (for the Markham Vineyards Cellar 1879 Blend, Napa Valley).  We did see a few people enjoying wine; it looked refreshing-- they serve it in really nice wine glasses, the ‘stemless’ kind.

Dave Jensen, TSM

To serve alcohol, I’m guessing that they are required to offer food. Since it’s Starbucks, they aren’t offering you pretzels and stale popcorn; they have great selection of ‘small plates’: a cheese plate, a meat plate, meatballs with tomato basil sauce, and more. I ordered the Truffle Mac & Cheese; it sounded like comfort food.  It was great! Amber said to note that the truffle [sauce] wasn’t heavy like other versions of truffle [sauce] that she has had. Prices on the ‘small plates’ ranged from $2.45 (for truffle popcorn) up to $6.95.

So we’re sitting there at Starbucks having beers and small plates. ‘Starbucks Evenings’ is how they tout it. It’s pretty surreal. People on their laptops (as with every Starbucks) are having coffee here, and then a woman and her mother-in-law are having a glass of wine over there. There were a couple of customers enjoying wine out on the patio.

Amber noted that it would be a great setting for a ‘first-meet’ with someone you met online, perhaps. Casual, like Starbucks is, but you can get a drink, too; before you find out that Ken is a weirdo. Good call. A situation I thought of was where one person would like a glass of wine but the other person just wants coffee; you don’t want an ordinary coffee, and you can’t get wine at Starbucks. Until now.

Take note- you can’t start a ‘tab’ and just start boozing it up. One purchase at a time. I can see that they aren’t trying to gather barflies, they are trying to give their usual coffee/tea customers another reason to visit their favorite locations, while also giving new customers a reason to stop in after work, or after dinner.

Dave Jensen, TSM

Our rating of alcohol at Starbucks? It makes sense, and it's great!