Who wants a croissant? As of last week, Starbucks has moved on from its usual skim lattes and whipped-creamed cappuccinos to offer a new breakfast à la française.
Last year, the über-coffee brand was buying for just 100 millions dollars La Boulange, a chain of 22 boulangeries spread all over the San Francisco region. Pascal Rigo created the bakery in 1999, and things were going pretty well for the French baker when his phone suddenly rang.
“It’s was Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks”, recalled Rigo on CBS. “When I think that I almost didn’t pick up!” he added. The lucky baker is now both General Director of La Boulange and manager of Starbucks’ “Food Category” department.
Now that Starbucks has bought La Boulange, it is also selling croissants and other viennoiseries aside from its coffees. It is apparently only the beginning of the companies’ merging. Starbucks is said to be now working on a lunch menu. The rumors indicate a carte du jour made of potages and gourmet sandwiches such as pastrami or shrimp salad. “I am so excited to be lunching at Starbucks soon’”, rejoices Lisa Jennings, a journalist for Nation’s Restaurant News for the West coast. “Wouldn’t it be marvelous to run to a Starbucks and buy a good old jambon de pays?”
Howard Schultz seems determined to keep diversifying Starbucks and its menus. After he bought Evolution Fresh, a juice company in 2011, he went on to integrate a tea business when he acquired Teavana Holdings for 620 millions dollars. Schultz now plans on working with the Danone Group to launch a yoghurt line for next year.
According to a Barclays study, one client out of three has a little something to eat with his coffee. For now, food represents less than 20% of Starbucks’ revenue. The goal is to reach 30%, starting with Pascal Rigo’s La Boulange.
It shall be soon enough. Pink being La Boulange’s mark, I found everything in my nearest Starbucks strangely colorful: from baristas apron, to paper wrapping up viennoiseries or even cup-holders, everything is pink. And yummy.
But opinions diverge. “It supposedly comes from this famous bakery, but it’s not like it was really fresh”, remarks Sherry Adrew, a loyal customer. Miriam Greenberg frowns. “Croissants are tastier at Dunkin Donuts”, she asserts.
So I decide to try them all. I start with one croissant and bite in it. It is rather dry. The pain au chocolat (or chocolate croissant) is flat as it just got out of the microwave. However, the Colombian chocolate inside is delicious. The square donut reminds me of New Orleans’ powdered beignet, but it is definitely more filling. The apple pastry sets the bar higher. It is not too sweet and so unctuous! It is without a doubt the chocolate meringue that wins it all. And it’s only 160 calories!