Starbucks brewed up a record quarter, thanks to drive-thrus, Cold Brew, and a secret frappe lab

Thursday, July 29, 2021 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures
_Tapitha working her nitro magic [FluxFactory/E+ via GettyImages]_

Tapitha working her nitro magic FluxFactory/E+ via GettyImages

Meet the old crew for a Cold Brew... People are meeting for coffee again, lines are back at Starbucks, and Linda still can't decide if she wants the egg white bite or the cake pop. Starbucks had its best third quarter revenue ever, whipping up $7.5B in sales — up a frothy 78% from last year. And same-store sales jumped 10% from even pre-pandemic levels.

  • To-go is a lifestyle: Nearly half of all transactions came from drive-thru, and over a quarter came from mobile orders for pickup and delivery.
  • Go oat or go home: Alt-milks accounted for 25% of total milk-related bev sales, thanks to drinks like Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso.

Too cold to handle... One theme stood out to us from Starbs' earnings: iced drinks are hot commodities. Cold drinks accounted for nearly three-quarters of total sales, up 10% from two years ago. Now, Starbucks is doubling down on the chill factor, since cold concoctions tend to be more profitable than plain old cups of Joe:

  • Cold science: Starbs has a lab where it develops tech like “Tapitha" (cute), the system that cranks out its Nitro Cold Brews.
  • Cold menus: In May, Starbs launched the “As Summer As Possible” (ASAP) menu, featuring premium cold drinks like the $5.25 Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino.

Daily habits are a gold mine... Starbs already owns one of the most reliable routines: the morning java run. Rewards members accounted for more than half of Starbucks' US sales last quarter. Now Starbucks is focused on milking more $$$ out of routines with premium upgrades. First, it was fancy breakfast sandwiches (shoutout Turkey Bacon & Egg White). Then, it was alt-milk drinks featuring Oatly. Decked-out cold drinks, like the Mango Dragonfruit Refresher, are the latest premium push.