linked in facebook twitter rss

  • Interbrand
  • Brandchannel

your chance!
your chance!
Starbucks Coffee Liqueur Brand

Starbucks Coffee Liqueur - double shot

  Starbucks Coffee Liqueur
double shot
by Alycia de Mesa
March 28, 2005

Starbucks, the coffee, now has an adult-only cousin: Starbucks, the liquor. Starbucks Coffee Liqueur is the company's most recent attempt to extend the iconic brand from the strip mall to bars and kitchens everywhere.

Sold in 750 ml bottles, the packaging immediately conjures the three main elements at play: liquor, coffee and Starbucks. The bottle shape is a replica of a cocktail shaker with a functional lid that doubles as a shot measurement. The stars in Starbucks logo are echoed in a reverse color band around the bottom of the bottle lid. Dark espresso replaces the traditional silver color of the "shaker" to evoke the deep, rich coffee for which Starbucks is famous.


While many liquor brands proudly display fairly complicated or elaborate bottle labels made of paper, the product designers opted for a minimalist painted label and raised glass approach, with the famous green logo directly centered on the espresso background. The "Coffee Liqueur" product descriptor is presented below it in complementary white and tan—make that latte—colors.

The name "Starbucks" appears three times on the front of the bottle in highly understated displays. First as the logo, second designed in with the product descriptor (as, surprisingly, the smallest font of the "Starbucks Coffee Liqueur" trio of words), and third as raised glass around the neck of the bottle in a non-logo sans-serif font.

Overall, the minimalist approach is effective as the green logo on the dark background "pops" from the sea of competing brands placed next to it regardless of whether its displayed in a drug store or trendy bar. Of all the Starbucks products sold in retail channels, it is by far the most minimal design. No one can accuse Starbucks of not thinking through every detail of its branding. Even the end aisle display units located in grocery stores perfectly echo the Starbucks shop environment with its use of modern and casual light woods and sparsely branded elements.

Compared to other products from its "At Home" line, the uncomplicated nomenclature of corporate brand plus generic descriptor (i.e., Starbucks Coffee Liqueur) is refreshingly clear. The company makes no overtures to create yet another catchy name concoction like Frappuccino or DoubleShot. It reserves that for its drink recipes à la Mochatini, Vodka Americano, Cocomintini and Blushin' Russian.

The product itself is derived from actual Starbucks coffee (100 percent to be exact), combined with 20 percent alcohol. An informal survey of Starbucks customers and liquor store managers uncovered nothing but rave reviews for the taste of the product, regardless of whether it was mixed with coffee, other drinks or on the rocks. Unlike popular coffee-mixing liqueurs such as Kahlua, Bailey's and Frangelico, Starbucks Coffee Liqueur's taste is more coffee than sticky sweet.

Price-wise the product comes in anywhere from US$ 5 to $ 10 more than the above brands but approximately $ 10 less than Godiva Liqueur. To date Godiva, the luxury chocolatier, is the only other food and beverage company in the US to extend its brand into liquor and specifically the liqueur segment in a similar manner. It seems coffee and chocolate go hand in hand with product extensions and taste buds. Since its Godiva Liqueur debut, the company has extended the product line to include Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur and Godiva Cappuccino Liqueur. Also like Starbucks, Godiva is in the grocery store ice cream business as well.

The new Starbucks product is the result of a joint venture with Jim Beam Brands Co., makers of various spirits and wines. Jim Beam Brands is responsible for developing, manufacturing and distributing the product. According to a press release from Starbucks website, research conducted by Starbucks revealed that nearly 50 percent of its loyal patrons consume coffee liqueurs. Hence the move into liqueurs was more logical than one might initially think. Nationwide the cordials and liqueurs are reported to be a $ 4 to 5 billion market.

The collaboration with Jim Beam isn't the first time Starbucks has teamed with other top tier brands to create new products for the home market. In 1995, the company collaborated with Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream to introduce Starbucks Coffee Ice Cream and the following year with Pepsi-Cola Company for its bottled Starbucks Frappuccino drinks. According to the company website, the above products including Starbucks DoubleShot espresso drink are number one in their respective categories.


Alycia de Mesa is a brand identity consultant and writer with over 10 years experience from Fortune 100 to start-up companies. She is author of Before The Brand, the definitive brand identity handbook, published by McGraw-Hill (under the name Alycia Perry).

 commenting closed Add Social Bookmark bookmark  print
 suggest topic  recommend ( 11 )  email

  brandchannel profile archive   2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006  | 2005  |  2004  |  2003  |  2002  |  2001
Dec 19, 2005 Jonathan Adler - furnishing touch -- Vivian Manning-Schaffel
  Home furnishings design brand Jonathan Adler proves that the pot grows when you stick to what you love best.
Dec 12, 2005 The Pop Shoppe - pops back -- Renée Alexander
  The Pop Shoppe pours on the nostalgia to attract new markets with its retro appeal.
Dec 5, 2005 Express Personnel - clocks in -- Dale Buss
  Express Personnel takes a slow approach to winning over accounts.
Nov 28, 2005 Canadian Tire - auto response -- Renée Alexander
  Canadian Tire wheels out a female-friendly store.
Nov 21, 2005 Starbucks - supreme bean -- John Simmons
  On what grounds does Starbucks succeed in places where American brands are not welcome?
Nov 14, 2005 Preserve Toothbrush - envirodental -- Evelyn Hafferty
  The quest to sell an eight-dollar toothbrush leads to over-design in the category and waste in our landfills. Recycline’s Preserve sinks its teeth into a more sustainable solution.
Nov 7, 2005 REI - working out -- Dale Buss
  Outdoor gear retailer REI climbs hand in hand with its employees.
Oct 31, 2005 Vespa - viva -- Jackson Mahr
  Vespa’s authenticity gives it an unassuming cool that has survived through the decades.
Oct 24, 2005 NHL - face-off -- Evelyn Hafferty
  The NHL shoots, but does it score with its new logo?
Oct 17, 2005 Putumayo - earth tones -- Alycia de Mesa
  Putumayo packages world music for the neophyte.
Oct 10, 2005 Tim Hortons - power play -- Renée Alexander
  Can Canadian fast-food franchise Tim Hortons tempt Americans away from Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s?
Oct 3, 2005 Neau - no water -- Erwin Wijman
  A social campaign in the Netherlands says Neau to bottled waters.
Sep 26, 2005 The Source - rewired -- Renée Alexander
  RadioShack rebrands itself in Canada as The Source and signals its approach up North.
Sep 19, 2005 Dragonair - flights of fancy -- Adeline Chong
  Flying Dragons: Dragonair’s livery design draws from Chinese tradition.
Sep 12, 2005 Make Poverty History - passion statement -- Rob Mitchell
  Non-profit organization Make Poverty History makes history in a very short period of time by getting on the agenda of the G8 summit.
Sep 5, 2005 Clear RX - design on drugs -- Evelyn Hafferty
  Target shows bottle by adopting an innovative approach to pharmaceutical container design.
Aug 29, 2005 Napster - pounces -- Rob Mitchell
  Cat Tails: Napster springs back to life only to encounter an Apple in its place.
Aug 22, 2005 Mountain Crest - brewing feud -- Renée Alexander
  Mountain Crest starts a bar brawl among Canadian brewers.
Aug 15, 2005 CBGB - punks out -- Abram Sauer
  Punk rock venue CBGB’s faces extinction 20 years past its due date.
Aug 8, 2005 Tommy Bahama - dressed to chill -- Alycia de Mesa
  Tommy Bahama hopes to entice you into the good life of sun and surf.
Aug 1, 2005 United Nations - fractured -- Lisa Marchese and Rachel Simmons
  Is the United Nations in crisis? Not surprisingly a recent poll found the UN suffers from negative perceptions, but what to do?
Jul 25, 2005 The Peninsula Hotels - made -- Adeline Chong
  The Peninsula Hotel anchors its brand in its staff.
Jul 18, 2005 Harry Potter - brand wizard -- Stephen Brown
  What's the secret behind the Harry Potter brand?
Jul 11, 2005 Jetsgo - looney -- Renée Alexander
  Three strikes you're out: The founder of failed airlines Jetsgo, Intair and Royal is still trying to take off, but can a brand image recover from bankruptcy?
Jul 4, 2005 America - home free? -- Simon Anholt
  The challenger to America's brand is not America's military foes, but the disaffection of its consumers and the skill and determination of its competitors.
Jun 27, 2005 Dubai - mirage? -- Sunil Varughese
  Enhancing Brand Dubai
Jun 20, 2005 Liberator - well positioned -- Abram Sauer
  Erotic goods manufacturer Liberator straddles the market between an X-treme sport for the XXX crowd and a remedy for bad back sufferers.
Jun 13, 2005 easyGroup - complex -- Jackson Mahr
  EasyGroup: are the strengths of each sub-brand robbed by the diversity of the others?
Jun 6, 2005 Kit Kat - barred -- Slaven Marinovich
  Will the courts rest on Nestlé's attempt to register Kit Kat's "Have a break" strapline?
May 30, 2005 Essence - right time? -- A.K. Cabell
  Essence leads the way in targeting African-American women.
May 23, 2005 MG Rover - sacked -- Chris Grannell
  MG Rover’s breakdown demonstrates the value of intangible assets.
May 16, 2005 Lloyds TSB - high interest? -- Alicia Clegg
  Lloyds TSB set out to raise interest among job seekers in the UK, but how does its recruitment campaign work with the overall brand identity?
May 9, 2005 Sony - played -- Jackson Mahr and Lesley Keene
  Sony’s fall is not isolated to its own actions; however it needs to act immediately to keep its media empire from crumbling.
May 2, 2005 QuikTrip - full service -- Alycia de Mesa
  QuikTrip strives to show that quick doesn’t need to mean nasty.
Apr 25, 2005 Hummer H3 - civilized -- Alycia de Mesa
  The General Motors sets out to rule the road with the Hummer H3.
Apr 18, 2005 Microsoft - no connection -- Jackson Mahr
  How can Microsoft be such a valuable brand when most users are so resentful of the company and its products.
Apr 11, 2005 H&R Block - angling -- Peter J. Burger
  H&R Block hopes its name will sprout up throughout the year, not just in spring.
Apr 4, 2005 Les Poochs - doggy style -- Robert Sprung
  Can an old marketer learn new tricks from a canine fragrance brand?
Mar 21, 2005 London Underground - bridging the gap -- Jackson Mahr
  Can the London Underground take its quaint wartime brand into the 21st century?
Mar 14, 2005 agnès b - je ne sais quoi -- Jackson Mahr
  Fashion brand agnès b finds small is beautiful.
Mar 7, 2005 Michelin Red Guide - cooked -- Joe Ray
  Recent events have scorched the Michelin Red Guide’s credibility, but is its goose in fact cooked?
Feb 28, 2005 Land Rover LR3 - driven -- Alycia de Mesa
  LR3: How does the first Land Rover developed entirely under Ford Motor Company ownership handle?
Feb 21, 2005 Nalgene Outdoor - venturing -- Jared Salter
  Nalgene’s initial popularity started with a happy accident, but it took a bit more planning to turn it into a success.
Feb 14, 2005 OnStar - first aid -- Dale Buss
  General Motor’s OnStar technology arrives after a long journey.
Feb 7, 2005 IBM - reboots -- Chris Grannell
  What does the sale of IBM’s manufacturing unit to Chinese manufacturer Lenovo mean for either brand?
Jan 31, 2005 Google Appliance - nice rack -- Chris Grannell
  Google links its brand with a hardware offering, the Search Appliance.
Jan 24, 2005 Virgin - spreads -- Jackson Mahr
  How far can Virgin stretch before the message is no longer pure?
Jan 17, 2005 Walkers Sensations - chip shape -- Alicia Clegg
  Walkers Sensations brings a premium brand to the mainstream market.
Jan 10, 2005 Maxim - brand masturbation -- Abram Sauer
  Can Maxim extend its brand without shortening its life?
Jan 3, 2005 Michelin Man - pumped -- Jackson Mahr
  Michelin breaks all the rules with the Michelin Man and creates a lovable mark for a utility brand.