Your Boss Will Love the New Starbucks Delivery Service

Starbucks has a solution for the coffee break that can warm the cold hearts of middle managers: a delivery option.

The coffee break has for generations been a double-edged sword for office productivity: Caffeine keeps workers going, but leaving the office to fetch coffee squanders precious work time. That paradox has been troubling managers since at least the 1950s. Consider this excerpt from a report by a field researcher at the Paper Cup & Container Institute (now the Foodservice & Packaging Institute), published in Personnel Journal in 1950:

Even 64 years ago, however, managers knew there was no fighting the need for coffee:

So the managers of old compromised by prepping and delivering coffee straight to people’s desks to save time.

That particular “office boy” service has a certain Mad Men air to it, but the office coffee machine is now a common amenity. Of course, Starbucks has found plenty of demand for its products, despite disadvantages in price and location—a testament to the poor quality of many office coffees.

Now the company is planning to compete more intensely with your in-office brew by launching a pilot delivery program in the second half of 2015. “Imagine the ability to create a standing order that Starbucks delivered hot or iced to your desk daily—that’s our version of e-commerce on steroids,” said Chief Executive Howard Schultz during an earnings call on Thursday.

Starbucks will be a first café chain to deliver, and if the program catches on, it could help increase the number of incoming orders. The 5 percent increase in same-store sales across the Americas last quarter trailed estimates.

A spokeswoman offered some elaboration on the nascent delivery effort without providing too many details: Starbucks will consider providing deliveries as a catering service for large groups and also on a subscription basis, whereby a customer could get an order delivered at the same time on a regular basis. Either way, it will guarantee there’s one less excuse to leave your desk.

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