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Mike Pomranz began covering craft beer professionally in 2006, branching out into all aspects of food and beverage before joining the Food & Wine team in 2014. He's also a cidermaker, bar owner, and alcoholic beverage importer.
Over the past five years, cryptocurrency madness has evolved into NFT madness, leaving brands scrambling to prove their “Web3” credentials. And while coffee itself may not seem that high tech, Starbucks has often been ahead of these technological curves with things like its app and digital payment options.
To that end, the coffee giant has been teasing some sort of NFT plan since at least back in April. Then, last month, it was confirmed the big news would drop this month. Now, this month is here, and so is the announcement for Starbucks’ new experience powered by Web3 technology, called Starbucks Odyssey. But once again, though the chain has gone so far as opening a waitlist for Odyssey, the actual program has been kicked further down the road.
In its simplest explanation, Starbucks states that Odyssey "will offer members the ability to earn and buy digital collectible stamps (NFTs) that will unlock access to new, immersive coffee experiences." The brand goes on to explain that users will be able to both earn (though games and other challenges) or buy NFTs which will have point values based on their rarity and can be bought or sold on the Odyssey marketplace. More points will also mean more opportunities to unlock more experiences including examples that "range from a virtual espresso martini-making class, to access to unique merchandise and artist collaborations, to invitations to exclusive events at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries or even trips to Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia coffee farm in Costa Rica."
In some ways, the idea of a "blockchain" feels almost unnecessary to the program: Since the entire thing is self-contained, why couldn't all the data simply be held securely by Starbucks? Along those lines, Odyssey offers other options that are friendly to Starbucks' existing customer base: Users can sign in with their Starbucks Rewards login info and purchases can be made without cryptocurrency; all they need is a credit card.
However, though Starbucks' Odyssey may look different than other NFT platforms, Starbucks executive vice president and chief marketing officer Brady Brewer spoke to the importance of the trendy tech. "Leveraging Web3 technology will allow our members to access experiences and ownership that was not possible before," he said. "By integrating into the Starbucks Rewards ecosystem and grounding the experience in coffee, connection and community, we are entering the Web3 space differently than any other brand, while deepening our members' connection to Starbucks. Our vision is to create a place where our digital community can come together over coffee, engage in immersive experiences, and celebrate the heritage and future of Starbucks."
If Starbucks Odyssey sounds up your alley, you can sign up for the waitlist for the program now at But as far as when you might be asked to join, Starbucks only said, “Invitations will be sent to select waitlist members later this year.”
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