Big Changes Coming To Starbucks In 2024

Starbucks cups at register
Starbucks cups at register - Bloomberg/Getty Images

You assume you know Starbucks well. You have your favorite drink, which you faithfully order every day. You have your favorite seasonal offerings, the long-awaited pumpkin spice latte or peppermint mocha. You can recognize the iconic logo on sight, no matter where in the world you might be traveling, and you know that when you follow that logo's call, you'll find yourself in a cozy coffee house filled with green-aproned baristas and other customers just like you, looking for a caffeine fix, sugary treat, or an open table with a side of WiFi.

However, your neighborhood Starbucks could start to look a little different this year. From the art on the walls to the cups that your favorite drinks are served in, your favorite drinks themselves, and the way in which your coffee is prepared and served — Starbucks has a lot of plans in the works. It's not entirely unexpected, even if change can often seem out of place in an institution that you think you know like the back of your hand; Starbucks announced a new CEO in the latter half of 2022, and new CEO Laxman Narasimhan formally assumed his role in spring of 2023. While a new brand leader often brings changes, prior to Starbucks welcoming Narasimhan, Howard Schultz had already launched a Starbucks "reinvention" plan in late 2022 with changes that will impact Starbucks this year. So, what's in the works and what can you expect? Here's everything you need to know.

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Starbucks Plans To Increase Its International Presence In A Big Way

Door to a Starbucks location
Door to a Starbucks location - Spencer Platt/Getty Images

When you think of Starbucks, you likely think of it as a global brand — and it definitely is. Starbucks boasts more than 20,000 international locations and 38,000 locations in total. However, the brand sees big potential for growth, particularly when it comes to opening those international outposts. In late 2023, Starbucks announced that it hopes to reach 35,000 total international locations by 2030, for a total of 55,000 storefronts overall by 2030. To make this happen, Starbucks will need to open about eight stores every single day.

This said, though, you might not necessarily see an extra Starbucks or two popping up in your neck of the woods. As noted, Starbucks is keeping its growth focused on international locations (as of late 2023, Starbucks said 75% of all "near-term" new store openings would occur in cities outside of the United States), and on a few markets in particular. The brand announced big growth plans for China, and anticipates that it will have approximately 9,000 storefronts in the country by next year; as of late 2023, there were 6,800 Starbucks locations in China, scattered across 800 cities. Starbucks also sees big growth opportunities in Southeast Asia, India, and Latin America. All this growth, Starbucks says, will increase its earnings substantially.

Starbucks Will Double Barista Pay

Starbucks barista making coffee
Starbucks barista making coffee - Bloomberg/Getty Images

Starbucks baristas have made headlines quite a lot over the last few years. Since 2021, Starbucks employees have been fighting to form unions and Starbucks corporate has been increasingly accused of doing everything it can to stop those union organization efforts. According to the National Labor Relations Board and its 100 cases against the company, Starbucks has used many strategies to punish unionizing employees, from reducing employee hours to closing stores completely. As of the latter half of 2023, only a few hundred Starbucks locations had managed to unionize. Starbucks has agreed to meet with union reps, though, to discuss union concerns such as, for one, pay increases.

On that note, Starbucks is at least seemingly listening to what its baristas want and, as of this year, you'll see that employees at your local Starbucks are enjoying a pay raise. In late 2023, Starbucks announced that, through its Triple Shot Reinvention growth plan, it will essentially double its employees' hourly income from 2020 to 2025 by not just raising hourly wages, but also offering employees more hours. What does that look like, more specifically? As of January 2024, Starbucks has increased most employees' hourly wages by a minimum of 3% (raises for those who've only been with the company for a few months are delayed), with workers who have been with the company longer able to receive raises of up to 5%.

Starbucks Is Introducing New Employee Benefits

Starbucks barista pouring milk into coffee
Starbucks barista pouring milk into coffee - Bloomberg/Getty Images

Your favorite Starbucks barista isn't only enjoying a pay raise this year, though. Starbucks is also making an effort to improve employee benefits overall. In November 2023, the company announced that it would be offering even more "industry-leading" benefits, even citing a study that showed Starbucks offers higher-value benefits for its hourly employees than 50 other U.S. brands. So what do these benefits include, beyond just the higher pay that Starbucks promised its baristas and other employees they would begin receiving in 2024?

Well, starting in February 2024, Starbucks said it would allow employees to begin accruing vacation time after 90 days of employment. Starbucks also noted that it would make an effort to recognize employees' work-life balance, with what it calls "partner-centric scheduling;" to do so, employees will provide management with their preferred minimum and maximum number of work hours so that managers can schedule those employees accordingly, as much as possible. Already, Starbucks employees receive annual stock allotments, but Starbucks is expanding what it calls "financial wellness" benefits by also offering a banking card to employees that will come with no fees or interest. Lastly, Starbucks said it's looking into ways it can offer more career mobility through credential and certification programs, though specifics were not announced last year.

Starbucks Stores Will Become More Efficient

Interior of a Starbucks
Interior of a Starbucks - Itchysan/Getty Images

Maybe you love a lot about Starbucks, but there's also a lot you don't love: namely, how inefficient actually getting your order can seem. You wait in line, you place your order, maybe answer a few clarifying questions, and then wait ... and wait ... and wait, until your order is finally done. Whether it happens in the drive-thru or in the physical store, the experience can take longer than you expected, leaving you late for work or the next item on your to-do list.

This common occurrence can be chalked up to a number of issues. Starbucks does, of course, offer near-endless drink options. Beyond the menu items that include an array of ingredients and that require baristas to perform far more functions than just pouring some drip coffee in a cup (unless, of course, drip coffee is your go-to order), customers frequently tweak menu items — or come up with so-called "Starbucks secret menu" items all on their own, essentially crafting custom drinks. Add on numerous ways for customers to now order their Starbucks drinks, including in-person and on an app, and you leave a lot of room for inefficiency. Luckily, Starbucks is promising that it aims to become more efficient as it reinvests in its employees. How exactly Starbucks plans to do this is a bit vague, but we can only hope that these reinvestments mean shorter wait times, more accurate drinks, and a process that's a little kinder to baristas.

Starbucks Has Revamped Its Winter Menu

Starbucks Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso
Starbucks Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso - Starbucks

This change coming to Starbucks in 2024 shouldn't really be all that much of a surprise. Starbucks brings back favorite seasonal beverages year after year and also routinely and reliably introduces new seasonal offerings every few months. While some of these new seasonal offerings prove favorites and are added to the annual rotation, others don't prove quite as popular and disappear for good.

For winter 2024 — not to be confused with the 2023 holiday season and its special beverages — Starbucks introduced some new offerings that were available starting in January. For starters, a new Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso combines Blonde Espresso with hazelnut syrup and oat milk. The reviews for the new drink, thus far, are a mixed bag. One Redditor said the drink "tastes like my medicine cabinet with a splash of oat milk," (they weren't the only one to say that the drink had a medicinal note, kind of like cough syrup), while some say they like the strong hazelnut flavor, describing it as "nicely nutty and a little herbal." The general consensus, though, is that the hazelnut syrup packs a punch. New food is on the winter menu as well, including a potato, cheddar, and chive bake that's a little like a piece of breakfast casserole. There's also a vanilla bean custard Danish to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Customers Can Now Use Their Own Personal Cup For Drive-Thru And Mobile Orders

A bunch of half-filled coffee mugs on a table, seen from above
A bunch of half-filled coffee mugs on a table, seen from above - Virusowy/Getty Images

If you're actively trying to reduce the number of single-use plastics in your life, or you hate all the waste that comes with ordering drinks and food at fast-food restaurants and coffee chains, then you're going to love this new change coming from Starbucks. As of this January, you can ask for your drink to be served in your own, personal coffee cup — and it can really be any cup that you own; it doesn't need to be a Starbucks-branded reusable mug or thermos or something similar. You'll have this option whether you order in-store, at the drive-thru, or in the app, making Starbucks the very first national brand in the country to offer this sustainably-focused option. Making the deal even sweeter, if you choose this option, Starbucks will give you a $0.10 discount and Starbucks Rewards points.

All you have to do is give your personal cup to the barista when you place your order (or arrive to pick up your order, if you placed your order in the app). The barista will use a special "contactless vessel" to hold your cup, for hygiene purposes. They'll make the drink in your cup and then return it to you. The only thing Starbucks asks? Please make sure your mug is clean before you bring it in.

Starbucks Is Hosting A North America Barista Championship

Starbucks employee pouring foam into cup
Starbucks employee pouring foam into cup - Bloomberg/Getty Images

As part of its efforts to better support its employees and enhance the employee experience, Starbucks is introducing another new activity for employees in 2024: the North America Barista Championship. Starbucks has hosted barista championships in other regions around the globe since 2013, but this will be the very first in North America. So what is it?

According to Starbucks, the championship will include thousands upon thousands of employees. In fact, one person from every single Starbucks location in the United States and Canada will participate. Participating employees must be chosen by the end of February. Then, in March, these employees will compete against other baristas in their region in a battle that includes tasting, brewing, and testing on Starbucks lore. In April, these winners compete again, showing off their skills in making classic Starbucks beverages, but they'll also have to present judges with a beverage of their own creation. From there, there's another regional competition in May, and then the ultimate North America Barista Championship for the finalists in June. The weeklong final competition will also include career advancement opportunities and the winner will receive a trip to Costa Rica.

The Oleato Is Now Available At All U.S. Stores

Oleato Starbucks sign on sidewalk
Oleato Starbucks sign on sidewalk - Spencer Platt/Getty Images

When Starbucks first introduced the Oleato in early 2023, it was a big, big deal. Olive oil? In your coffee? Stalwart Starbucks fans didn't know whether they should be excited or appalled. Some reviewers actually quite liked the Oleato, but reports soon followed of unsuspecting customers discovering that the drink had a laxative effect. The mixed reviews didn't stop Starbucks, though. At first, the drink was only available in Italy (a destination the brand says sparked the inspiration for the drink's creation). Then, it was slowly rolled out to other locations on a limited basis. It showed up in the United States in March 2023, and then in Japan in April 2023.

Now, Oleato beverages are available in the United States, Canada, Japan, Italy, London, and Paris — and, as of January 30, the beverages aren't just available at limited locations throughout these destinations. Regardless of your take on the Oleato, now, it's available in all Canadian and United States stores.

Starbucks Is Introducing New Oleato Drinks

Hands holding Oleato drinks in Starbucks cups
Hands holding Oleato drinks in Starbucks cups - Starbucks

Starbucks isn't just rolling out Oleato drinks to every single Starbucks location in the United States and Canada. It's also bringing more for Oleato fans to love, with new drink offerings available as of January 30. There's a new Oleato Golden Foam Iced Shaken Espresso with Toffeenut, an Oleato Caffe Latte with Oatmilk, and new Oleato Golden Foam beverages.

However, while the new Oleato drinks — and the new rollout of Oleato beverages on a widespread scale — may make some Starbucks fans excited, some baristas aren't quite as thrilled, taking to Reddit to air their grievances. On January 30, one barista posted that the Oleato worries them, as they received very few orders for the drink, and even had difficulty giving away free samples; they said their best reaction to the drink thus far was that it was "surprisingly okay." Other baristas commented on the Reddit post mentioning a similar lack of interest in their locations. Another Redditor, though, posted on January 29 and said that Oleato's appeal all comes down to the individual drink, saying, "Go in with an open mind and think of creative ways to make it taste good."

New Enhancements Are Coming To Starbucks Rewards

Starbucks app on phone
Starbucks app on phone - Bloomberg/Getty Images

If you're a frequent Starbucks customer, then you're likely also enrolled in Starbucks Rewards. If you're not, you probably should be. The rewards program allows you to pay through the app and get rewards points, called Stars, that you can then redeem for free food and beverages. For example, 25 Stars is enough to add a free drink customization to your order, which would normally incur an extra charge. Once you start getting into hundreds of Stars, you can redeem those Stars for drinks, food, and merch. Depending on how you pay for your Starbucks orders, you'll receive either one or two Stars per dollar you spend.

Now, Starbucks is enhancing Starbucks Rewards with the goal of enticing a whopping 75 million customers to sign up for the rewards program. Starbucks plans to bring on new rewards partners and hints at a financial institution and hospitality brand that have both agreed to come on as rewards partners in the first half of 2024. Currently, Starbucks is partnered with Delta, so you can earn Delta SkyMiles at the same time that you earn Stars and earn more Stars overall on days that you're flying with Delta. It's safe to assume that future brand partnerships will work similarly.

Starbucks Will Introduce The New Starbucks Art Prize

Starbucks in an airport
Starbucks in an airport - Southtownboy/Getty Images

The last change you can expect to see at Starbucks in 2024 is the artwork on the walls. If you've never paid much attention to the décor in your neighborhood Starbucks, it might be time to begin taking a closer look, as Starbucks recently announced the new Starbucks Art Prize. Through this prize, Starbucks will annually select an artist to feature throughout its stores. The artist will receive a $1 million sponsorship as part of the deal.

According to a post that Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan made on LinkedIn around the time of the announcement, the artist must be a visual artist as well as a newer or emerging artist with a novel perspective. A panel of judges will choose the annual recipient. In addition to displaying the recipient's artwork throughout Starbucks locations for the year, the initiative will also choose five emerging architects to design five new Starbucks locations. A Starbucks Scouted program will also seek to bring emerging musical talent to the Starbucks in-store soundtracks. All of these efforts, the brand says, are part of its growing focus on community and bringing the artistic elements of Starbucks culture to greater attention.

Read the original article on Mashed.