Starbucks To Offer Smoothies And Mysterious Fruity Italian Drinks

Watch out Jamba Juice, Starbucks is coming for you. CEO Howard Schultz announced yesterday that the company would “make our first significant step forward into this category with the introduction of a Health and Wellness beverage platform.” That’s CEO for “We’re gonna make smoothies.”

Through our extensive research and development, we believe we have hit the mark with the protein and fruit-blended beverage we have developed, which is made from simple ingredients that provide the benefit of sustained energy that our customers want.

This new beverage will initially be available in two flavors and will include fresh fruit and a proprietary whey protein, with no artificial sweeteners, delivering 15 or more grams of protein with no more than 270 calories.

Schultz also hinted at some new secret “Italian” beverage:

On a recent trip to Italy, we found a unique beverage platform that we believe to be a perfect complement to our overall beverage business. This exclusive, proprietary opportunity was developed through a partnership with our Italian supplier and represents a brand new category of beverage, which is both refreshing, low calorie, and indulgent at the same time. It offers a unique frozen, smooth texture, distinctive taste profiles and options ranging from fruit-based to dairy-based to yogurt-based ingredients…

And we believe customer acceptance of this new distinctive beverage category will create a new demand, drive incremental traffic to our stores much like Frappuccino did 10 years ago.

Wall Street doesn’t seem to be too thrilled with the idea of Starbucks entering into the smoothie territory currently dominated by Jamba Juice. Portfolio says:

So even if Starbucks rolled out literally the best smoothies available in America, wiping Jamba Juice off the face of the earth and converting every last one of their customers, that would still increase revenue by just 11 percent. And the reality, of course, will be far more modest.

Not only is the impact of the new beverages likely to be minimal, but they also seem at odds with C.E.O. Howard Schultz’s stated intention to bring the focus at Starbucks back to coffee.

The labor intensity of making the drinks, the added blender noise, and the new task of sourcing fruit all add up to distractions from that core concern.

Will you buy a Starbucks smoothie?

No Smoothie Sailing For Starbucks [Portfolio]
Starbucks F2Q08 (Qtr End 3/30/08) Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha]
(Photo: artnchicken )


Edit Your Comment

  1. nrich239 says:

    Will these new smoothies also taste burnt?

  2. B says:

    So they’re offering Italian ice? I used to love getting those things from the good humor truck.

  3. chiieddy says:

    Limoncello, perhaps?

  4. rmz says:

    Nail in the coffin for Jamba Juice?

  5. samurailynn says:

    @chiieddy: Limoncello is so awesome.

  6. howie_in_az says:

    One can make a smoothie at home that will taste far better than anything a burnt-water conglomerate ‘smoothistas’ can whip up. In fact, the home smoothie would probably be enough for 4 people for the same price as the corporation’s offering. And you have the added benefit of knowing exactly what’s in it (no dark thumbs).

  7. ChuckECheese says:

    I think Starbucks is desperately scrambling for ideas to increase revenue. I recommend bacon. Bacon will save them.

  8. B says:

    @ChuckECheese: Caffeinated bacon?

  9. Bladefist says:

    Revenue is down 21% for starbucks. Maybe instead of making more drinks, they should just lower the prices of the ones they have and not make me speak gay when trying to order a drink.

    “umm yes, can I have a venti passion tea with honey”

  10. NcSchu says:

    @ChuckECheese: Bacon tastes really good when it’s burnt. It’s perfect!

  11. drjayphd says:

    Is it sad that as soon as I saw “wellness program”, I thought Starbucks was going to start testing their baristas for steroids?

  12. ElizabethD says:

    Starbucks way overextended themselves in a great hurry. So many Starbucks. Not enough customers to go around. Bye-bye, Starbucks.

  13. ChuckECheese says:

    @B: That sounds lovely.

  14. samurailynn says:

    @B: Have you seen the caffeinated Snickers bars? I thought about trying one, but I don’t really like Snickers.

  15. drjayphd says:

    Schultz also hinted at some new secret “Italian” beverage:

    Since it must be posted:

  16. Underpants Gnome says:

    Italian, or perhaps Fritalian?

  17. Underpants Gnome says:

    @drjayphd: Doh! Beat me by a single refresh!

  18. renilyn says:

    @B: They have caffeinated soap… why not?!

  19. Lambasted says:

    Starbucks can’t even make a cup of coffee taste good. I have no confidence that their smoothies and fruity drinks will taste any better.

    Besides, if Starbucks charges $4 for a cup of water and burnt coffee beans what are they going to charge for a cup of shaved ice and flavored Kool-aid, $6?

  20. MissPeacock says:

    If these smoothies are cheaper than the ones at Planet Smoothie or Smoothie King, I would definitely consider it. You can spend nearly seven bucks on a smoothie at those places. Knowing Starbucks, though, I’m sure it will be the same or even more.

  21. Meisterjager says:

    @samurailynn: Sounds like that’s along the same lines as Boost Guarana bars, apart from the caffeine bit. I remember one review I read likened the taste to ‘camel sperm’. Which was nice.

    I get a feeling these smoothies will be just as half-assed as the array of other products that Starbucks offer. Anyone else???

  22. chiieddy says:

    @samurailynn: Yes, yes it is. :-)

  23. jaydeflix says:

    “we found a unique beverage platform”


    Am I the only person who read this and thought they found some new tables?

  24. Shmonkmonk says:

    @Lambasted: That’s $4 for espresso and like 20oz of steamed milk plus flavored syrup.

    “Burnt” coffee and water will only cost you $1.72 for unlimited refill (if you use a registered gift card). Have you ordered anything from Starbucks recently?

  25. Lambasted says:

    @Shmonkmonk: Umm…clearly you are not a very intuitive person. (1) I believe the tone of my comment makes it abundantly clear that I have not ordered anything from Starbucks recently. But in case you missed it, the word “burnt” is clue for you. Only a fool would “recently” pay for something that one thinks tastes like burnt caaca.

    And (2) your lack of intuitiveness also precludes you from recognizing when someone is being facetious. Obviously my comment was meant to imply that Starbucks’ coffee (IN WHATEVER FORM) is overpriced and so will their new concoctions.

    But by all means, defend your $4 flavored syrup steamed milk and whatever else Starbucks serves to you in their overly hyped fashion. I prefer to spend my money on something that doesn’t taste like crap.

  26. ludwigk says:

    I don’t see how they’re going to merge the hip-cool atmosphere with the constant whir of 30,000 rpm smoothie blenders. Ever hang out in a Jamba Juice for a couple hours, or see anyone doing that? Most of the Jamba Juices I’ve been to have 0-4 inside chairs, and I frequent about 8 different locations. It’s just too loud inside their stores, and you need that kind of noise to make a good smoothie (until Blendtec comes out with a quiet model).

  27. dookas says:

    Italian Sodas I bet…

    I thought Starbucks was trying to make an effort to go back to its roots?

  28. pal003 says:

    Yes! I need me some protein with my coffee addiction. Thanks Starbucks!

  29. Sherryness says:

    The whey protein is a plus – I avoid soy protein. And as long as it doesn’t have high-fructose corn syrup, I’ll probably give one a try.

  30. @B: Caffeinated bacon, served plain, or chocolate-coated!

    @B: Italian ice? Yes, please!

  31. SkokieGuy says:

    @Sherryness: Do you think the whey protein will come from BGH-free cows?

  32. gaberussell says:


    This is my main concern. When I go to Starbucks, it’s usually to sit for an hour or two and read or do a little laptop work over a couple espresso drinks. It’s a nice place to go that’s not home or the office. The noise from the blenders (especially in the summer) destroys what little atmosphere they have and makes it not much better than McDonalds. If I have to listen to two blenders a minute, I’m not staying.

  33. BigElectricCat says:

    @ChuckECheese: Three cheers for bacon!

  34. RandomHookup says:

    And who, pray tell, is this mysterious fruity Italian they are offering drinks…Liberace?

  35. theblackdog says:

    @ludwigk: Now Starbucks can answer the age old question…

    Will it blend?

  36. ChuckECheese says:

    @RandomHookup: I think it had something to do with a venti passion tea with honey.

  37. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    I hope they will offer free samples like they did with Pike Place coffee.

  38. Nakko says:


  39. lizzybee says:

    Jeez, why not just add Italian sodas? A small carbonated tap, the same syrup you use for everything else, and ice. Shake or stir a bit, and voila!

    **still bitter from the time she was craving an Italian soda, and all there was around was Starbucks**

  40. Coelacanth says:

    @Lambasted: I challenge you to show me a beverage that’s made simply of water and burnt coffee beans.

    Unless you’re talking about a quintuple-shot espresso or something.

  41. bbagdan says:

    I thought the CEO was recently dismayed by a diversion away from coffee, and was trying to bring Starbucks back to basics, to be real coffeehouses “again”.

    Guess not.

  42. GreatMoose says:

    The Starbucks here used to have Italian sodas, but they all stopped making them a couple of years ago. I never understood why. Joe Muggs still makes ’em, though.

    I also miss Chantico. I think I was the only person I knew who could drink it.

  43. Pluckyduk8 says:

    It wasn’t a smoothie, but they should bring back the pomegranate frapuccino. Yummy.

  44. BigElectricCat says:

    @RandomHookup: Liberace = Polish-American.


  45. Cattivella says:

    @ChuckECheese: They DO have bacon – they started doing those not delicious little breakfast sandwiches and one of them was bacon and egg. Still didn’t save it.

    @COELACANTH: that would be the regular brewed coffee and Starbuck’s brewed coffee has always tasted burnt to me.

    @lizzybee: The coffee shop I used to work at did Creamosa’s! Basically an Italian soda with a small splash of half and half. It’s the most delicious thing ever, especially with strawberry syrup.

  46. TVarmy says:

    Hmm… Well, they have 7/11s in Itally. Maybe they’ll start selling Slurpees, the ultimate carbonated flavored-ice beverage.

  47. overbysara says:

    are we talking real smoothies… or “smoothies” with sugar and “fruit” like that shit they sell at cosi.

  48. FreeMarketGravy says:

    @jaydeflix: I think what drives me nuts about corporate buzzwords, more than the ones that they made up or how overused they are, if the ones that are normal words misappropriated and used incorrectly.

    No, Starbucks, you didn’t find a “unique beverage platform.” You found “a unique product that is new to American shores and will provide you with a new opportunity to better present your customers with a larger assortment of great Starbucks products.”

    See? It’s not only LONGER and packed with MORE nonsense, but it doesn’t misuse a single word.

  49. RandomZero says:

    Am I the only one who’s questioning the “unique” aspect of this whole thing? Italian shaved-ice and fruit concoction… Hmm. Sounds suspiciously like some of the offerings at any one of a half-dozen small indie shops down the road from my nearest Starbucks. Maybe they’re looking for antoher industry to try to drive out of existence?

  50. tempest says:

    @Shmonkmonk: Can I buy a gift card for $1.72, though? :)

  51. tempest says:

    @RandomZero: I used to get something like this in my hometown growing up. They were called by the extremely exotic title “Slush Puppies”.

  52. angieness says:

    ugh, what is wrong with you Howard? I work at Starbucks and we’re introducing Energy Drink options to the espresso beverages and now smoothies? Howard came back to the company to bring a focus back on coffee and to bring things financially back in line. He discontinued the cream frappuccino light base, organic milk, and almond syrup to save money. Now he wants to find more ways for the company to waste money? 80% of the drinks ordered at my location are Frappuccinos, I don’t need to have to devote even more time at the blender with smoothies with a Haagan Daz right by my location.

  53. Bryan Price says:

    I don’t even drink coffee at Starbucks…

    I might get an iced tea on average of about once a month. If that. Now my kids, I think they’re up to once a week. And they aren’t 18 yet. (7 more days…)

  54. somniferous says:

    There are only a few Roasts that SBUX offers that taste remotely burnt. Those would be the Komodo Dragon, and pretty much all the other “Extra Bold” roasts. But the Pikes Place has bold overtones but a mild roast. I personally like the brew, and only pretentious idiots who like to ride cliche propaganda-like bandwagons against successful corporations will say the blanket statement “…all Starbucks coffee tastes burnt!”

    Maybe if your palate was accustomed to actual coffee instead of that dirt Folgers or what not, you’d understand not only why 20oz. of coffee is $2.09 but why Starbucks IS the premium purveyor of coffee, world wide.

    And the smoothies… I’ve experimented with the NAKED drinks at my SBUX and came up with some pretty tasty bevs.

    Italian Ice will probably be a bitch to make.

  55. Danny Staple says:

    Why pay over the odds for sugary smoothies that may not even be that healthy? Make your own smoothies!.