Starbucks moving beyond the latte

Stephanie Strom / New York Times News Service /

Published Oct 9, 2013 at 05:00AM

SEATTLE — In a suburb due east of Los Angeles, Starbucks is opening a $70 million, state-of-the-art plant that will produce cold-pressed juices.

The factory is the latest investment that underscores Starbucks’ determination to transform its brand from being synonymous with coffee to a food and beverage juggernaut.

In the last two years, Starbucks has spent some $750 million acquiring three new businesses — Evolution Fresh juices, La Boulange Café and Bakery, and Teavana — as it tries to muscle in on prized grocery shelves and compete in territory now dominated by the likes of Panera Bread and Chipotle.

La Boulange’s sweet and savory pastries and snacks now are displayed on pink paper that lines bakery cases in some 3,000 of Starbucks’ 10,000 stores in the U.S.

This month, Teavana will open its first tearoom on New York’s Madison Avenue with the goal of teaching customers how to order tea the same way they order coffee in a Starbucks — double tall light whipped soy oolong, anyone?

Whether the diversification and expansion will catch on is something analysts and Wall Street are watching. Given that Starbucks’ primary business is still concentrated during the morning hours when coffee drinking is most popular, the company has struggled for years to lure customers into its stores through the rest of the day. Beverages, mainly coffee drinks, still account for three-quarters of the company’s overall sales, while food contributes 19 percent.