New Starbucks in Denver Looks Nothing Like a Starbucks

Coffee chain experiments with tiny storefronts

Starbucks is testing out some tiny, LEED-certified drive-through/walk-up shops without the coziness their normal storefronts offer. The coffee juggernaut is trying to fend off diminishing returns from its larger-scale coffeehouses and expand its services to neighborhoods that aren't big (or rich) enough to support a traditional Starbucks. I wonder if this project, still somewhat in the testing phase, will disappear like the unbranded shops Starbucks tried a few years back, which were a response to customers getting tired of the brand's ubiquity. The first new shop, in Denver, is certainly eye-catching; its designer wants you to mistake it for an art piece. Still, it's hard to tell whether Starbucks is to be applauded for its acute self-awareness in the market, or scorned because every couple of years they twist in the wind like this, trying not to be what they really are. Co.Design has a lot more on the new initiative, and a bunch more photos. David Kiefaber is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak.