6 big changes coming to Starbucks in 2017

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Starbucks drinks
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Starbucks is the company that single-handedly introduced the world to premium coffee.

And with more than 24,000 stores in 70 countries, the Seattle-based caffeine purveyor isn’t done growing yet.

Read more: 6 big changes coming to Olive Garden in 2017

Here’s what’s new at Starbucks

Starbucks is a company that’s always in flux and evolving. Here’s a roundup of the latest news…

There’s a new CEO

Gone is longtime CEO Howard Schultz, who was as synonymous with Starbucks as Bill Gates is with Microsoft or the late Steve Jobs was with Apple.

In his place is Kevin Johnson, who assumed the reins on April 3.

But Schultz fans shouldn’t feel too bad; he’s just moved over to another part of the company to oversee Starbucks Reserve, the upscale boutique version of the Starbucks brand.

Johnson, meanwhile, is helming the traditional retail store side of the Starbucks empire.

Dedicated baristas are coming for mobile customers

Starbucks was an early adopter of mobile ordering via Mobile Order & Pay. The goal of the app was to reduce long lines at the register by allowing people to order and pay for their drink before they got into the store.

Well, the company’s mobile strategy has been so successful that they’ve done what they set out to do…only now the long lines are in the coffee pick-up area instead of at the register!

That’s actually a good problem to have because it shows that the company is growing in the right direction. But it still is a problem nonetheless.

So newly installed CEO Kevin Johnson tells The Wall Street Journal that the chain wants to install a dedicated barista near the door with drinks at the ready for the mobile customers who ordered them. That should really keep foot traffic moving along!

More fresh food is coming

Fresh-made lunches are coming to 100+ stores in Chicago on April 11.

The “Starbucks Mercato” concept (aka Starbucks Market) will offer fresh grab-and-go salads and sandwiches made daily. Among the featured menu items will be cauliflower tabbouleh salad and an herb chicken and fig spread sandwich.

If the concept is successful, look for it to roll out to other markets across the country.

Starbucks Mercato lunch

Starbucks wants to make inroads in flyover country

For years, Starbucks has been synonymous with everything that’s hip, urban and young. But now that those markets have been saturated, the growth has to come from elsewhere — like the flyover country, as it’s derisively called, that is the heartland of our nation.

“A lot of growth opportunities might be in less urban places, more suburban areas, the Midwest,” Johnson tells The Wall Street Journal. “Over the next five years we’ve projected building 12,000 additional stores globally, taking us to 37,000 stores. More than half of those stores will be in the U.S. and China.”

You’ll find beer, wine and gourmet bread on the premium side of the business

An evening menu complete with beer and wine offerings will be featured in Starbucks Reserve stores.

Also on the premium front, Starbucks is planning to introduce the high-end Italian bakery chain Princi to American palettes. Initial locations will be in Seattle, Chicago and New York City.

Princi’s chief offering will be artisan handmade bread. Other Princi baked goods will be served at Starbucks Reserve stores later this year.

A secret healthy tea concoction is now on the official menu

Ever heard of going to Starbucks and ordering a “Medicine Ball”?

Social media buzz around this tea-based drink that’s supposed to work wonders if you have a cold has landed it on the official menu.

Of course, it has another name too: Honey Citrus Mint Tea.

Click here to see what’s in the beloved brew.

Read more: 10 tips that will save you money at Starbucks

Why you need to read the label on your bottled water

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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