June 2013

Starbucks Tests Beer-Flavored Coffee

There are plenty of options when it comes to coffee-flavored beer. Samuel Adams makes one of several coffee-flavored stouts, while Lagunitas has a stout crafted to taste like cappuccino on the market. Duck Rabbit also makes a milk stout with a latte-esque flavor. But have you ever wondered why there are no options when it comes to beer-flavored coffee? Well, now, thanks to Starbucks, that is about to change. 

The coffee giant is now reportedly testing a beverage crafted to invoke the taste of a stout beer (for those of you who aren’t beer connoisseurs, stout beer is a dark beer made using roasted malt or roasted barley). The new coffee-beer beverage, known as Dark Barrel Latte, is now being served at select locations throughout Ohio and Florida. It has been reported that the beer specifically seeks to mimic the taste of Guinness. Guinness, an iconic Irish dry stout, is brewed in Ireland and dates back to 1752. It boasts a unique burnt flavor derived from roasted, unmalted barley.

Starbucks reports that the drink, which is topped with whipped cream and caramel, derives its beer flavor from a “chocolaty stout-flavored sauce.” While the beverage may be crafted to taste like beer, it is a completely nonalcoholic beverage. The drink is reported to have a “roasted malt” taste and comes hot, iced, or as a Frappuccino.

Consumers took to Twitter to provide their feedback. Initial reviews appear to be mixed. “The Dark Barrel Latte really does taste like beer and coffee,” one fan tweeted. Others, however, were less than impressed. “It is supposed to taste like malt vinegar?” one asked. “Severely disappointed … The Dark Barrel Latte is horrid. Bring back my Salted Carmel Latte to Ohio, PLEASE,” another consumer begged.

Many consumers will be wondering whether or not Starbucks will be expanding this beverage to stores across the country. Yet Starbucks has been mum on the subject. “We’re looking forward to learning more from the test, but do not have additional information to share on future availability of this product in our stores,” said a Starbucks spokesperson.

Many industry experts contend that this could be a good way to bridge the gap between morning and evening customers as the brand begins to offer alcoholic beverages, such as wine and beer. Others have pointed out that this could be Starbucks’ response to increased competition. McDonald’s, for example, has also begun to offer a Pumpkin Spice Latte, formerly Starbucks’ unique signature drink.




Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.

The 3 Major Threats to Fast-Food Franchises

Times are changing. Demands for a higher minimum wage are intensifying, local laws are changing, and it looks like federal rules could soon be tightening. But could this spell the end of the fast-food franchise industry? Let’s take a look at the three major threats to fast-food franchises.

  1. Labor activism. Workers in the fast-food industry are demanding higher wages and better working conditions. This fall, workers walked out of fast-food enterprises across the nation in protest of menial wages, orchestrated by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to garner attention for a $15-an-hour national minimum wage. In some places, this could actually double the minimum wage, and it would be tough for many restaurant owners to absorb. These kinds of protests have been gaining momentum. In total, there have been seven such strikes over the past two years. Rising labor costs could mean price hikes in the fast-food franchise industry. There is no telling if the minimum wage will actually be raised to $15 (in the imminent future, it seems unlikely), but it does look like change is on the horizon. President Obama himself has even called for a higher national wage, and 60 percent of voters agree that is time for an increase, especially considering that there hasn’t been a wage hike in over seven years.
  2. Changes in local laws. Though the fight for a national minimum wage hike is still raging, a great number of local jurisdictions are taking matters into their own hands. Seattle, a hotbed of fast-food labor rights activism, will be phasing in a $15 minimum wage over the course of the next two years. In California, proposed legislation would give franchise owners substantially more leeway to offer workers higher wages or more comprehensive benefits if they choose to do so. In addition, the law also mitigates franchisors’ ability to terminate franchise contracts if local owners should deviate from the operating standards of a national chain. These kinds of changes could force employers to hire fewer workers — which could just very well take the “fast” out of fast food.
  3. Climate change. Believe it or not, climate change could actually force fast-food franchises to hike up the price of burgers around the country. Across the U.S., franchises are feeling the climate change crunch. Beloved In-N-Out Burger was forced to raise the price of its famous “Double Double” by a dime, blaming the price hike on the ongoing California drought. Denny’s also raised prices, while Subway was forced to raise prices on turkey and tuna by 25 cents. The bad news? It’s anticipated that things are only going to get worse.




Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.