Starbucks has become synonymous with coffee in a big way over the years. Now, the coffee company is looking to branch out and its next act will include tea.
The company has verified that it plans to open its first coffee-free/tea-only store in October under the Tazo brand near its headquarters in Seattle. According to reports, the store will offer over 80 varieties (Who knew, right?) of loose-leaf teas. The Tazo partners (not associates) can work with customers to create customized tea blends for consumption in the store or to take home.
"It's very much about personalization and interaction and immersing yourself in all-things tea," said Holly Hart, a spokesperson for Starbucks, told CNNMoney. "It's not going to be the typical grab-and-go experience."
Ms. Hart said the experience should be enough to differentiate it from competitors, including Starbucks, which also sells Tazo tea drinks, and drive traffic to the store.
"If you think about going to wine tastings where you're standing up, sipping and talking about the flavor profile, that's what this store will look like," she told CNNMoney. "It's about the interaction, talking about the flavor and the blend of the tea."
While Starbucks is taking the Tazo tea shop one step at a time, the company has made clear that it sees the "$1.4 billion brand" as a vehicle for growth.
According to a Bloomberg News report, CEO Howard Schultz said on an April conference call, "We've recognized the unique opportunities we have with Tazo in multiple channels of distribution as part of our health and wellness initiative."
How would you rate the size of the tea parlor opportunity in the U.S.?