Starbucks’ Newest Customization: A Shot of Carbonation

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dotbenstar/

It’s understood that when customers go to Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) in the morning they want to get caffeinated, but did you know that some go to get carbonated too? A recent report from Quartz reveals that the coffee giant has been secretly testing out a new market since last spring, and it is one for “handcrafted sodas.” According to Quartz, Starbucks baristas in certain locations have been letting customers choose to carbonate juices, sodas, and a selection of coffee and tea beverages, and they’ve been happy with the consumer feedback.

Thanks to Sodastream-like carbonation machines behind counters in certain stores, coffee drinkers can now get a buzz different than that of the caffeine-related kind, and their response to the experiment has been so positive that the world’s largest coffee chain has been encouraged to trademark the name Fizzio as it starts making plans to launch its own soda line, or at least market an official carbonation add-on. Before recently, adding carbonation to customers’ beverages was an experiment limited to certain stores in Japan, Singapore, Atlanta, and Austin, Texas, but now Quartz reports that CEO Howard Schlutz is decidedly more open about expanding that possibility forward, and he told investors during a recent earnings call, “Carbonation. That is a new category for us. We think it’s a significant opportunity.”

Adding bubbles to one’s coffee may seem like a strange experiment, but nonetheless, it seems to be going over well. In Starbucks’s supported locations, baristas can now add fizz to most things a customer requests, barring espresso drinks and Frappucinos, but they especially want customers to try three carbonated drinks: lemon ale, ginger ale, and spiced root beer, calling them Starbucks’s “handcrafted sodas.”