If you're a freelancer or travel for business, you've probably spent an inordinate amount of time at Starbucks. A ubiquitous, conveniently located choice with food, coffee, and relatively reliable Wi-Fi, it's hard to stay away from the coffee behemoth.

Now, Starbucks is making a bold addition to the menu.

"Wine and coffee actually have a lot in common. Any sommelier or coffee master will take you through a similar tasting process of swirl/stir, inhale, and slurp."

So says Starbucks on their page describing "Starbucks Evenings," which will see select stores offering wine, beer, and their very coffee-meets-alcohol cocktail: the Espresso Cloud IPA.

Perhaps more striking, with Starbucks Evenings, you can reserve a spot for you and friends.

After witnessing more than one group meeting at a Starbucks in the late afternoon and evenings, this seems like a smart choice based on real customer behavior. There are plenty of screenwriting groups, Meetup groups, study groups, and more who use centrally located Starbucks' as convenient meeting places. Making it easier and even more appealing for them to gather comfortably makes sense.

Not everyone is excited about the idea, though. Phoenix police, for example, urged city council members to turn five Starbucks locations down in their bid to get a Series 12 liquor license. Law enforcement officials, as well as parents, are concerned about minors getting their hands on alcohol if anyone can buy beer and wine at Starbucks.

Plus, after a Starbucks in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was selected to be one of the locations to feature the evening menu, 500 local residents signed a petition against it, citing concerns it would diminish revenue from small businesses in the area.

But will it, really? Or will it open up a whole new market?

The jury is still out, but it seems like it could empower a new market, in which case it wouldn't be stealing revenue from anywhere. Because in addition to the group meetings aspect, there are a lot of people who would see grabbing a quiet glass of wine with a friend at Starbucks as a chill way of ending the workday, sans the loud and occasionally overwhelming happy-hour scene at a bar.

Personally, I think it's a brilliant, if for no other reason than this: Every day from 4-7 p.m., participating Starbucks' will sell craft beer for $4 and a glass of wine for $5.

That's less than the price of a Venti Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino.

Cheers!

Published on: Oct 31, 2016