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THE INC. LIFE

Starbucks Just Took a Stunning Decision That May Affect Coffee-Drinking At Work

This could change a lot.

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BY Chris Matyszczyk - 22 Feb 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

 

Of late, Starbucks has had its problems.

It's tried to address overcrowding in its restaurants.

It's tried to charge customers for paper cups.

It's even tried to avoid controversy over its Christmas cups.

Through it all, it's also tried to make some of its offerings more upscale.

Because nothing says Starbucks more than a $10 coffee.

Now, however, it's trying something that could affect coffee-drinking at work around the world.

It's leasing its coffee-making machines to businesses.

This surprising move has been made in Japan, where, as the Asahi Shimbun reports, five companies are already graced with the barista-quality machines.

The motivation behind shoving the baristas' machines into offices is stiff competition from convenience stores, which entice customers with cheaper coffee.

The machines, indeed, are large, square things -- just like the ones you see in your local Starbucks.

They have a screen where you push buttons to achieve your professional effect.

But what a tempting thought for some businesses that might not want their staff to leave the office for any reason -- not even a coffee run.

Some might fear, though, that these Starbucks machines don't quite make quite the same coffee as the ones in the restaurants.

Apparently, though, they can make "20 kinds of drinks, including caffe latte and caffe mocha, using Arabica coffee beans of the same quality as those used at its stores."

Naturally, Starbucks is charging for the privilege.

For the machines, the beans and, yes, the paper cups.

How much companies charge their workers is, of course, up to them.

Will some try to make a profit? Will others seek, instead, to offer these machines as a perk, one that keeps workers where their bosses can see them?

I contacted Starbucks to ask about the surprising development.

A spokesperson for the coffee chain told me: "Starbucks is passionate about providing customers with the unique Starbucks Experience wherever they are and, through the Foodservice channel, we will be able to further connect Starbucks to more customers outside of our stores."

Yes, but whenever I've had supposed Starbucks coffee in hotels and other establishments, it hasn't quite tasted the same.

The spokesperson, however, insisted that these Japanese machines created "single-serve machine that brews and crafts a limited selection of premium Starbucks espresso beverages, brewed coffees, teas and hot cocoa."

Currently, the coffee chain's business services don't quite seem to embrace leasing these fancy barista machines.

Indeed, Starbucks told me that these machines were created specifically for Japan.

But what if companies in, say, the U.S. see this and think: "Aha, now the Starbucks run will only take 30 seconds and everyone will be happy"?

Companies have dangerous thoughts.

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