Chilling Report: Amazon and Starbucks Planned a Joint Chain of Cafes

Chilling Report: Amazon and Starbucks Planned a Joint Chain of Cafes
Photo: David Ryder, Getty Images

Amazon has an idea, reportedly: Starbucks. Business Insider has obtained an internal Amazon document showing that Amazon and Starbucks had planned a joint operation, a cashierless cafe of sorts. Code name: “Verde.” WiFi password: BarnesandNobleCanEatBoogers!haha

A rendering shows that the automat-style cafe looks like a Starbucks, with vending machines containing Amazon food, which Business Insider describes as an “assortment of pastries and baked goods.” According to Insider, the joint store was to develop a unique brand.

It was designed for busy 25- to 45-year-old urbanites, or “time-starved professionals,” Insider says. Striving Millennials. The demographic that’ll be the first to survive on Amazon yogurt cups in nursing homes while staring at Ring cameras if we don’t die of heatstroke in record-breaking temperatures on the way to the office. Sorry. SORRY.

The partnership is grimly logical, in the same way that Amazon accounts will someday be as essential (if not more essential) than social security numbers. Starbucks doesn’t have to make paninis anymore and correctly estimates that hitching its wagon to Amazon is the only means of survival. But Amazon already offers Starbucks at Amazon Go grocery/convenience stores, so why set up a new chain masquerading as a Starbucks? A big perk, maybe, is that Amazon comes one step closer to converting every upper-middle-class young urban professional on Earth into an Amazon customer.

This is because the lounges would reportedly implement Amazon’s no-touch cashierless checkout app, which forces shoppers to register for an Amazon account. Amazon uses the all-robot payment system in Amazon Go, another dystopian nightmare that asks customers to decide whether they’re hungry and lazy enough to sign up for a corporate surveillance state. Download the app and connect it to the mandatory Amazon account, then allow cameras to capture your face. As TechCrunch described it in 2018:

At this moment (well, actually the moment you entered or perhaps even before) your account is associated with your physical presence and cameras begin tracking your every move.

The cameras then track everything you do and what you pick up and put in your bag, in exchange for the convenience of walking out. The plan seems to be to make every store dependent on Amazon and every customer beholden to their accounts and subject to its spy system, via Insider’s excerpt from the document. Unnnghh:

“Verde is Amazon Go as a service, meaning that retailers incorporate an Amazon Go (where Amazon owns customer identity/authentication, catalogue, merchandising, supply chain, planogram, fixtures, and P&L) into their store premises to offer customers new selection and shopping experiences, complementary to their own.”

Amazon owns customer identity…

Gizmodo stared into the middle distance and then asked Amazon what “customer identity” means. In response to the Business Insider piece, broadly, a spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on rumours or speculation.” Starbucks declined to comment.

In any case, the project may or may not move forward. Insider also reports that the companies missed their deadline to open the flagship, which was slated for late 2020 (granted, it was a pandemic). Amazon has opened a hair salon, it owns 500 Whole Foods, 26 Go stores, and 11 much larger grocery-sized Amazon Fresh stores in the US, with 28 more on their way, Bloomberg reports.

Will Starbucks survive? Or will Amazon start making heated milky pumpkin spice beverages? We’ll circle back in a few years.