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(Image: TR/Unsplash)Pumpkin spice lattes aren’t the only thing Starbucks is hyped about right now. Starting this year, the multinational coffee chain is bringing NFTs into its widely loved loyalty program.
The integration, called Starbucks Odyssey, allows those participating in the loyalty program (referred to as Starbucks Rewards) as well as employees to earn and purchase special blockchain tokens. Each is designed to “unlock digital, physical and experiential benefits that are uniquely Starbucks,” according to executive vice president and chief marketing officer Brady Brewer. These benefits range from virtual coffee mixology classes, access to special merchandise, event invites at Reserve roasteries, and trips to the brand’s Costa Rica coffee farm.
Odyssey will be tacked on top of the existing Starbucks Rewards program. Rewards members will be able to log into their Starbucks account in the app or in a web browser to participate in virtual activities like games or brand trivia. These activities are called Odyssey “journeys,” and once they’re completed, members will be rewarded with a “journey stamp”—Starbucks’ honey-sweet name for an NFT. Each NFT will be designed using artwork created by Starbucks employees and third-party artists.

Members who want to obtain more NFTs without investing the time to complete journeys will be able to purchase them from a marketplace built into the Starbucks app. Some of the money from these purchases will be donated to charitable causes selected by Rewards members and employees. The company said that it will not require members to use crypto wallets or other forms of cryptocurrency to purchase NFTs, as it wants to remain accessible to those who’d otherwise be out of the blockchain loop. Interested Rewards members can join a waitlist to be the first to try Odyssey when it’s available.
“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,” Brewer said.
If you’re wondering how a company that claims to care a lot about the environment can justify its venture into the blockchain, you’re not the only one. Starbucks got ahead of environmental concerns in its release, saying it’s taking “a thoughtful and thorough approach” to Odyssey’s launch. The brand will be using a Polygon proof-of-stake blockchain protocol rather than a proof-of-work one, as the former is said to possess one percent of the latter’s computational cost and energy drain. (Ethereum, currently one of the most popular cryptocurrencies, is switching to a proof-of-stake protocol for similar reasons this week.)
Starbucks swears its NFT experience will be different from any other company’s, and as much as I’d like to call bull, it might be right. I mean, where else can you snag a sugar-laden Frappuccino, a $30 plastic cup, and an NFT? Starbucks is already a brand with a cult-like following—that it’s taking fans’ enthusiasm a step further is unfortunately anything but surprising.
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