Starbucks jumps on the energy drink bandwagon

The Seattle-based coffee shop chain, eager to reverse a sales decline, this week introduced a line of energy drinks, hoping to lure more younger customers to its restaurants.
Starbucks energy drinks
Starbucks will initially introduce three sugar-free energy drinks, including a frozen variety available only on the app. | Photo courtesy of Starbucks.

Starbucks is officially jumping on the energy drink bandwagon.

The Seattle-based coffee giant released its line of energy drinks on Tuesday, Starbucks Iced Energy Beverages.

The move is expected, not just because Starbucks executives told us they planned to make this move weeks ago, but because energy drinks are booming and more restaurants are adding them to their drink menus.

Energy drinks have taken off in recent years. Sales of the ultra-caffeinated beverages grew 73% from 2018 through 2023, according to the data firm Mintel. Check out any convenience store or pharmacy beverage cooler and you’ll find a massive selection of energy drinks from brands like Monster, Celsius and Red Bull.

Restaurants were generally slow to jump on board but that is changing, in part due to the success of brands like Dutch Bros, the drive-thru beverage chain that does big business with its own line of energy drinks. Companies like Dunkin’ and Sonic have added energy drinks to their menu.

Starbucks’ energy drink platform does not include sugar and is available only in Venti, the chain’s 20-ounce size. The company is introducing two flavors, Tropical Citrus and Melon Burst.

The chain is also introducing a frozen beverage, the Frozen Tropical Citrus Iced Energy with Strawberry Puree. That is available only on the Starbucks app for a limited time, the company said.

The energy drinks have about the same amount of caffeine as a 16-ounce cold brew, the company said.

The move comes as Starbucks’ same-store sales have taken a hit in recent months, starting in mid-November. The company has unleashed a steady stream of efforts to reverse that, including a “pairings” menu designed to court value customers, and it plans to open its app to even non-loyalty customers next month.

Starbucks has also produced a steady line of new beverages. It introduced a line of lavender-flavored drinks this year that performed almost as well as the chain’s annual Pumpkin Spice Latte launch. It also introduced a boba beverage, “Pearls.”

The line of energy beverages is aimed at younger consumers more likely to consume such drinks. Starbucks introduced the line as part of a group of new items including a Caramel Vanilla Swirl Iced Coffee, nondairy creamer and cold foam and a new Egg, Pesto and Mozzarella Sandwich. The chain is also introducing a new Blueberry Streusel Muffin.

“It’s more blueberries, a more elevated muffin,” CFO Rachel Ruggeri told analysts earlier this month.

“We know a section of our customer base is really looking for that new news,” she said.


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