Perhaps like me, you too forgot that Starbucks — the chain known for its vast array of coffee drinks — owns a stand-alone juice concept. Evolution Fresh, a subsidiary of Starbucks, produces packaged juices that are found at every Starbucks location in the U.S. But there are also two stand-alone, Starbucks-owned Evolution Fresh Kitchen stores in the Seattle, Washington area. At one point there were five Evolution Fresh Kitchens, but soon there will be none: According to Seattle Met, Starbucks is discontinuing its stand-alone juice shops.
Back in 2011, when freshly pressed juice bars just started to edge into Jamba Juice’s smoothie turf, Howard Schultz’s company bought up Evolution Fresh, a California-based wholesale juice brand specializing in pre-packaged pressed juices. The purchase price? $30 million, cash.
Though Evolution Fresh was a wholesaler at the time, Starbucks went all-in on the concept, announcing it would launch a new national “health and wellness brand” meant to "redefine the super-premium juice category and experience for consumers unlike any prior existing juice retail." Starbucks locations also started displaying Evolution Fresh’s pre-packaged juices near the cashier counter.
As Allecia Vermillion notes, Schultz may have been ahead of his time on the juicing trend. Fresh-pressed juices seem to have peaked nationwide in the last couple of years, just as America’s taste for more refined coffee drinks has grown. Starbucks has since doubled down on its higher-end coffee offerings, announcing major menu additions like cold brew, nitro coffee, and an array of technical brewing methods and single origin beans at its new Reserve Bars and Roasteries.
This isn’t the first Schultz initiative that incoming CEO Kevin Johnson — who officially takes the helm in April — has killed in recent months. In early January the company announced it would discontinue its Evenings program, the wine, beer, and small plates menu it had rolled out at hundreds of locations nationwide over the past six years. Meanwhile, Schultz is working on a plan to bring Starbucks to Italy, sans juice.
A Starbucks representative wrote in an email that “while it is a difficult decision to close the remaining two locations... the Evolution Fresh business remains strong.” The company will continue investing in the juice brand, which is currently sold at more than 20,000 retailers (including Starbucks locations and grocery stores) in the U.S. and Canada. Starbucks says Evolution Fresh’s packaged juices are “the most successful, dynamic segment” of its juice business.