Starbucks to test delivery service this year in Seattle, New York

Seattle and New York’s Empire State Building will be the twin proving grounds for Starbucks’ latest bid to break down the barriers between people and their coffee: delivery.

The delivery service, to be tested in the two cities in the second half of 2015, is the next frontier for Starbucks’ rapidly growing mobile ecosystem, which is tightly tied to its loyalty program.

Starbucks says members of the rewards program buy more Starbucks goodies more often than the rest of its customers. People have to join the program to use Starbucks’ mobile payment app, which experts say is the most successful of its kind.

As of Tuesday, the app also allows ordering by smartphone or tablet all over the Pacific Northwest, enabling customers to skip the long lines that often form at the Starbucks counter.

Wednesday’s delivery announcement coincided with the Starbucks shareholders meeting, an annual extravaganza held at McCaw Hall, at which executives reiterated the company’s ambitious target of nearly doubling revenue by 2019.

With Starbucks shares hovering near record highs, Wall Street seems to be buying the promise. But such breakneck growth can be hard for a mature company like Starbucks.

So in addition to opening 8,000 stores over the next five years — about 4.3 per day — the coffee giant will have to drum up new revenue through initiatives like mobile delivery.

At the meeting, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told shareholders the company planned the sixth 2-for-1 stock split in its history. Shares rallied to record highs after the announcement, closing at $95.84, up 1.5 percent.

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