So much for Starbucks' journey into the metaverse

The coffee shop chain told customers late last week that it would end its Starbucks Odyssey NFT loyalty experiment "to prepare for what comes next."
Starbucks Odyssey
Starbucks Odyssey allowed customers to take "journeys" and collect digital artwork. | Image courtesy of Starbucks.

Hey, remember Starbucks’ NFT-fueled loyalty program test? Yeah, about that.

Starbucks Odyssey, an extension of the chain’s Starbucks Rewards program launched late in 2022, is being phased out at the end of the month, according to a company announcement.

The Seattle-based coffee shop giant said the program “must come to an end to prepare for what comes next as we continue to evolve.” Customers have until March 25 to “complete any remaining journeys” that are key to the program, which will shut down for good March 31.

In the process, Starbucks is getting rid of perhaps the most aggressive use of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, and the metaverse in the restaurant industry.

NFTs are essentially digital trading cards. Starbucks sought to translate its “Third Place” concept, a third place between work and home where people spend time, to the metaverse. Customers completed “journeys” and were rewarded with a “journey stamp,” or an NFT, that could be bought or sold. The stamps featured artwork created by Starbucks workers or outside artists.

NFTs soared in popularity during the pandemic but have seemingly lost some of their popularity in the aftermath.

And perhaps Starbucks realized that its loyalty program doesn’t need such bells and whistles. The chain has 34 million active members in its U.S.-based program and they account for 59% of spending at company stores—largely done outside any virtual reality universe.

Customers will still be able to access their stamps and withdraw them to an external wallet to use on other platforms. Starbucks Odyssey Discord server will close on Tuesday.

Starbucks, however, said that it is looking for methods to allow its loyalty program members to communicate with one another.

“As we look to evolve the program, we will be keeping the community in mind, and we are working to have a place for members to connect in the future,” the company said in its FAQ.


Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Red Lobster gives private equity another black eye

The Bottom Line: The role a giant sale-leaseback had in the bankruptcy filing of the seafood chain has drawn more criticism of the investment firms' financial engineering. The criticism is well-earned.


Beverage chains are taking off as consumers shift their drink preferences

The Bottom Line: Some of the fastest-growing chains in the U.S. push drinks, even as sales at traditional concepts lag in growing delivery and takeout business. How can traditional restaurants get in on the action?


Brands need to think creatively as the industry heads into a value war

The Bottom Line: Giving customers meal options they can afford will be key to generating traffic this year. But make sure those offers can generate a profit.


More from our partners