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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Wednesday, July 29 2009. 10:45

Starbucks : Cappuccino, Chamomile or…Chianti ?

Il barista may not be allowed to serve wine in the Barista café chains across India during our life time, but their counterpart and future competitor Starbucks has started to offer wine and beer in the neighbourhood café, with the first one opening in the home base, Seattle last Friday and two more in the offing.

A Seattle outlet of the 16,000 store strong international coffee chain is re-branding without the visible Starbucks identifiers and its own logo opened last Friday, re-christened as ‘15th Avenue Coffee and Tea’. Two more stores are soon to open in the city as the test stores.

Each will have its own name and outward identity to make it look like the local coffee shop rather than the Big Coffee, which has found opposition in many consumer quarters and is finding trouble in expanding further.

In the spirit of a traditional coffeehouse, it will serve wine and beer, host live music and poetry readings and sell espresso from a manual machine rather than the automated type found in most Starbucks stores. The test stores will sell a rotating menu of beer ($4 to 5 a bottle) and wine ($5 to $7 a glass) along with coffees, teas and food not found at most Starbucks locations.

Brewed coffee made using French presses, old-fashioned ceramic-drip systems and a Clover machine- a semiautomatic French press that allows baristas to set the temperature and brew time for individual cups of coffee will be served at the new outlets.

According to the company spokesmen, the culture is pushing back from the corporate establishment and moving toward more organic, small business. But the reaction in its home town has so far been cool to negative. “The Goliath is coming at me under a new name,” is the general refrain, with many people comparing it to a little neighbourhood burger place run by McDonald’s or a nickel -and-dime store operated by Wal-Mart.

The addition of wine and beer to the menu comes as the 38-year old company continues to shrink, with up to 1,000 shops earmarked for closure around the world while it waits to open its stores in India- bogged by the bureaucratic delays while the Indian chains (with foreign participation) like Barista and Café Coffee Day are gaining strength every day.

While there is a lot of fuss being created in the US, UK is already ahead with the London based coffee house Ca’puccino, owned by a luxury Italian coffee company opening its second store this week at the Westfield Shopping Centre, UK’s third largest shopping center that opened last October. In addition to the Italian regional delicacies, ice cream and expertly made coffee, Ca’puccino also offers wine as an alternative accompaniment.

Of course to an Italian, this is fuss about nothing. Most neighbourhood bars in Italy serve wine along with coffee, tea and the pannini or dolci and whatever else the customers demand.  


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