Design

Inside NYC's new Starbucks/Amazon Go hybrid

The combination unit is the first from the two brands, offering a high-tech, contactless experience.
Starbucks and Amazon Go unit
Photo courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks and Amazon Go opened the brands’ first hybrid store last week in New York City, integrating the order-ahead feature of the Starbucks app with Amazon Go’s “just walk out” technology.

Customers can order their coffee drinks for pickup and take them to go or step inside the cafe space to sit at one of the work stations, booths or tables. To do so, they need to scan the Amazon Go app or a credit card to pass through the turnstile. A high-tech palm reader also grants access for registered users. A worker is stationed at the turnstile to explain how to enter. 

Palm reader

Photo by Patricia Cobe

A small prep area/kitchen behind the counter holds the coffee makers, microwaves and other equipment; the baristas at the pick-up counter simply hand over the orders.

Once inside, guests can grab something to eat from the Amazon Go cases, which are filled with an assortment of hot and cold meals and snacks, including salads, sandwiches and baked goods. Some of the foods have a local pedigree, coming from popular NYC spots such as Magnolia Bakery and Ess-A-Bagel.

starbucks case

starbucks bagels

Photos by Patricia Cobe

Customers can also order items from the Starbucks menu and pick them up from the inside counter when the order is ready (as indicated on a large digital screen).

In a press release, Starbucks bills this new model as a “modernized third place environment” with a welcoming lounge, but the small footprint limits the number of guests who can hang out there.

Starbucks work station

There are three individual work stations with power outlets and three booths circling small tables. But the booths can only seat four adults comfortably. And while there are outlets at the base of each booth, there isn’t enough table surface to accommodate more than two laptops.

booth

Near the pickup counter is a round communal table with six wooden chairs but no power source. Everyone else who wants to linger in the lounge has to stand at a counter or at the one high-top table.

communal table

The store is light and airy with contemporary finishes and wall decor, but many of Starbucks’ traditional cafes offer much more space for working and meetups.

The new hybrid store is located on the east side of Manhattan at 59th Street off Lexington Ave. Starbucks and Amazon Go expect to open more of these models in 2022, with the next location planned in the office building that’s home to the New York Times near Times Square.

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