Starbucks Is Testing Weekend Brunch.

By John Kell /
September 06, 2016
Starbucks Is Testing Weekend Brunch
Credit: Fanjet Das/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Starbucks is jumping on the brunch bandwagon.

The coffee giant on Monday confirmed to Fortune that it’s conducting a small test for a weekend-only brunch menu in 78 locations in Portland, Ore., and Seattle. The news was initially reported by fan blog StarbucksMelody.

“As a company, we often test innovative products, programs, and ideas to gather feedback from our customers and partners,” a Starbucks representative wrote in an e-mailed statement. The company stressed that it is still learning from the initiative, so it had no further details about its future and no firm information about whether it would expand to additional stores or markets down the road.

Testing a brunch is one of many steps the chain has taken to evolve beyond a local coffee house. Starbucks has also experimented with selling wine and beer to lure diners during the evening hours. It has also inked deals to stock a slew of startup food brands in recent years, including recent commitments to stock Megpies artisan tarts and Bantam bagel bites across thousands of locations.

The innovations are all ways that Starbucks can grow the brand beyond its core dependence on coffee drinks. Brunch makes perfect sense because the company already performs very strongly in the earliest hours of the day, when interest is strongest for coffee.

StarbucksMelody reports that Starbucks’ brunch menu includes baked French toast, quiche, and Belgian waffles. But the launch also points to a natural limitation to to endeavor: All the food arrives premade each morning and then gets warmed up before serving. For Starbucks to fully participate in a brunch that many Americans think of today—where the food is almost always made to order—it would need to either reconfigure locations or open new, larger stores with fully operational kitchens.

With only 19% of revenue at company-operated stores coming from food, there is still a great opportunity for Starbucks to experiment with ways to propel that business forward. A successful brunch could also help it accelerate 2014 plans to double the annual revenue from food in the domestic market to reach more than $4 billion by fiscal 2019.