Is Starbucks Going Off the Grid?

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Earlier this month, Starbucks launched a store in Colorado that, for many, is completely unrecognizable from their typical coffee shop.  No longer can a customer buy a coffee, relax, and work for hours on end in comfortable leather chairs. In fact, there are no chairs, no outlets, and no space to work.  This Starbucks drive thru looks like a strange art installation, but is in fact a LEED-certified Starbucks that only has enough room for the employees and the coffee. And, of course, given the environmental mission of the store, there’s no need to drive to it, there’s also a window for people who are just walking by.

starbucks drive thru

The shop occupies only 500 square feet (just enough to fit three to five employees and the coffee appliances) and is made entirely from reclaimed materials found within a 500-mile radius.  In the realm of Starbucks’, it’s ground-breaking– the power savings are huge since theres’s no longer a need to power customers’ laptops, and the small size of the building reduces the amount of materials needed to build it.  There’s even been speculation that these low-footprint stores might even go completely off the grid.

Though the Denver drive-through seems like a radical change from Starbucks’ cookie-cutter coffee shop style, in recent years Starbucks has been differentiating their design across the world, matching their architecture and design with the surrounding areas.  In Seattle, Starbucks created the “Reclamation Drive-Thru,” a store created from four old shipping containers.

Starbucks Drive Thru

In Japan, Starbucks built a work of art of a coffee shop after commissioning architect Kengo Kuma to design their shop.

starbucks drive thru

And in Amsterdam, Starbucks serves as a showcase for sustainable interior design, as well slow coffee brewing.

Starbucks drive thru

Though these coffee stores are each unique, they’re all part of Starbucks’ new plan build stores with their Shared Planet Initiative in mind, as well as their mission to integrate each store into its surrounding environment.   Additionally, Starbucks has committed to building all of their new company-owned stores to LEED Certification standards.  These recent commitments to the planet and sustainability allude to the fact that Starbucks might be a brand to watch in the realm of interesting and creative sustainable building design.

Photo Credit: Fast Co.Design, Starbucks
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