Starbucks tries a cashless location

The coffee chain this week opened a test cashless unit in Seattle.

Starbucks is going cashless, at least in one location.

The Seattle-based coffee giant on Tuesday opened a unit in its home market that will not take cash.

The company in an email described the location as a “test” to gather views from both employees and customers. “The test will help us understand how cashless forms of payment may impact our customer experience,” a company spokesperson said in an email.

The test is only at the one location, at the Russell Investments Center in Seattle, at least for now. The company could not say on Wednesday whether the test would be expanded to other locations.

The effort continues the restaurant industry’s slow but sure move into cashless efforts. The kiosk-only chain Eatsa, for instance, expanded with its cashless locations before closing five of its units. Yet that company is now helping other restaurants use its technology, beginning with Wow Bao.

The credit card company Visa has offered awards to restaurant owners that go cashless.

Chains have started looking at this, too. In October, Shake Shack said it would open a single, cash-free unit in New York.

That Starbucks is experimenting with this is hardly a surprise. The company is widely seen as one of the restaurant industry’s most technologically savvy companies.

Mobile order and pay, for instance, represents 10% of company transactions, and more than a third of the chain’s domestic sales come from its 13.3 million Starbucks Rewards loyalty members.

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


In Red Lobster, a symbol of the challenges with casual dining

The Bottom Line: Consumers have shifted dining toward convenience or occasions, and that has created havoc for full-service restaurant chains. How can these companies get customers back?


Crumbl may be the next frozen yogurt, or the next Krispy Kreme

The Bottom Line: With word that the chain’s unit volumes took a nosedive last year, its future, and that of its operators, depends on what the brand does next.


4 things we learned in a wild week for restaurant tech

Tech Check: If you blinked, you may have missed three funding rounds, two acquisitions, a “never-before-seen” new product and a bold executive poaching. Let’s get caught up.


More from our partners