Operations

Starbucks plans to make its coffee shops more accessible

New and remodeled shops will follow new guidelines to make them more accessible for customers and workers. The first such location opened Friday in Washington, D.C.
Starbucks inclusive store
Starbucks' newest store in Washington, D.C. will follow its Inclusive Spaces Framework. | Photo courtesy of Starbucks.

Starbucks on Friday said that its new and remodeled locations will follow a new set of guidelines designed to make them more accessible for customers and employees.

The Seattle-based coffee shop chain announced an Inclusive Spaces Framework that will dictate the accessibility of its new and remodeled locations going forward.

That framework features an updated point-of-sale system with an adjustable angle stand, customizable layout, voice assist, screen magnification and pictures of menu items for “language diversity.” It also features visual order confirmation to ensure accuracy.

Customer order status boards will provide a visual update on order process. Power-operated doors, “wherever possible,” with a longer vertical push button that is easier to activate from more heights and angles.

It also features optimized acoustics and lighting to “create a more inclusive auditory and visual experience” for customers and workers. Equipment is also being designed to be more inclusive, such as the Starbucks Clover Vertica machine, which makes a single cup of drip coffee in many sizes and features larger buttons.

The stores will also feature unobstructed pedestrian paths and lower counters with overhangs that accommodate wheelchair access.

The first such location opened on Friday in Washington, D.C. Tony Coelho, a former U.S. congressman and primary author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, called Starbucks’ opening of its new store “a big moment as we try to make retail spaces more accessible and inclusive.”

Starbucks expects to open quite a few of these. The company believes it has plenty of room to grow in the U.S. and expects to grow unit count by about 4% this year, or about 640 locations.

About one in four U.S. adults has a disability. The company said its new framework is intentionally embedded into its new store plans.

“We have challenged ourselves to imagine what’s possible when we take a closer look at the many ways our partners and customers interact with us and experience our stores every day,” said Katie Young, SVP of store operations. Starbucks calls its employees “partners.”

Starbucks said its framework will be open sourced and developed to expand accessibility across the retail industry.

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