The coffee giant ventures into beer
Since last summer, Starbucks has stepped up its efforts to roll out its “Starbucks Evenings” program across the country, selling beer, wine, and evening-friendly dishes alongside its usual coffeehouse offerings to encourage people to swing by the chain during nighttime hours when customers are less likely to need a caffeine kick to get through their workday. However, Starbucks is still Starbucks—the country’s largest coffee chain—so it makes sense the brand would be interested in a beverage that combines the company’s longstanding dedication to coffee with its new efforts to become an alternative to your neighborhood bar. In that regard, the company may have just rolled out what could serve as its new signature drink: a Starbucks beer cocktail called the Espresso Cloud IPA.
The Espresso Cloud IPA is described as “a handcrafted beverage made with the unexpected combination of espresso and craft beer.” As simple as that sounds, the slightly strange drink manages to embrace a number of trends at once. Served with real espresso, it plays into the hands of Starbucks’ coffee drinking base. It also features a layer of micro-foam on top, giving the drink the sexy appeal of a latte. But the beverages base is beer—specifically an IPA, probably the most popular style in the craft brewing world, lending the drink some actual craft beer credentials. However, since the IPA and espresso are also mixed, the final product is technically a beer cocktail, something that has been a popular addition to many fancy cocktail menus in recent memory.
For these reasons, the Espresso Cloud IPA is making all the right moves to stir a wide array of drinking demographics into one glass. Justin Burns-Beach, who developed the drink, explains, “Something like this has never been created for Starbucks,” also calling it “a truly interactive and unique beverage experience.”
Starbucks itself gives a more detailed description on its 1912 Pike website: “Espresso is shaken over ice with orange pieces and a touch of sweet vanilla. Shaking the espresso produces a rich cloud of micro-foam with accents of citrus and vanilla. The foam is layered on top of a freshly poured IPA, and the beer is served with the cold-shaken espresso shot on the side. It’s a beautiful presentation with a fun twist, as pouring the shot over the beer creates a tantalizing, layered waterfall of espresso and craft beer in the glass.” Once mixed, the espresso and beer are said to have “complementary citrus notes in both the hoppy IPA and vanilla orange-infused espresso.”
The Espresso Cloud IPA certainly sounds interesting on paper. If you want to give it a try, it’s currently available at any Starbucks Evenings location, according to the company. Whether the beverage will have broad enough appeal to actually catch on remains to be seen. But for now, no other drink in Starbucks lineup so aptly combines Starbucks daytime and nighttime ambitions––both figuratively and literally.