Starbucks Unveils New Accessible Store Design

Starbucks Unveils New Accessible Store Design

Starbucks, the global coffee giant, has introduced a revolutionary store design aimed at promoting accessibility and inclusion for all customers. The company recently opened its first location with the new design in Washington, D.C.’s Union Market. This innovative initiative, which took around two years to develop, brings together practical design elements that cater to individuals with disabilities, while also enhancing the overall customer experience.

Sara Trilling, the President of Starbucks North America, expressed that designing for disabilities is not only a way to ensure equal access but also a strategy for implementing good design for all. The company actively gathered input from its baristas to create a space that was more accessible and inclusive. The Union Market cafe, for instance, features power-operated doors that make it easier for customers to enter with minimal effort. Once inside, customers can benefit from an assortment of accessible features on the new point-of-sale system, including an adjustable angle stand, voice assist, screen magnification, and menu item photos. These features are particularly helpful for customers who have limited English proficiency, as visual cues aid in confirming orders accurately.

Starbucks has gone above and beyond by incorporating elements that cater to various disabilities. The counters in the new design are lower, allowing wheelchair users to comfortably place their orders. Behind the counter, the company introduced the Clover Vertica system for brewing drip coffee, which features a more accessible design with a large dial and protruding buttons. This design enables individuals with visual impairments to navigate the system with ease, as touch and light cues indicate brewing cycles and completion.

In addition to physical changes, Starbucks implemented supportive technology to enhance the customer experience in the accessible locations. Digital status boards inform customers when their drinks are ready for pickup, supplementing baristas’ verbal calls. The store lighting has also been optimized to minimize glare, shadows, and distracting backlighting, ensuring optimal visibility for all customers. Furthermore, the stores have been outfitted with improved insulation, reducing noise levels for a more pleasant atmosphere.

Starbucks is committed to expanding its footprint while ensuring accessibility remains a top priority. The company plans to open over 600 new stores in the coming year alone, increasing its U.S. presence by 4%. All future company-owned locations will follow a similar design framework, prioritizing accessibility and inclusion. Importantly, Starbucks emphasized that building these accessible stores will not significantly increase costs compared to their current designs, demonstrating the company’s dedication to fostering customer connection and employee engagement.

Starbucks’ new accessible store design represents a significant step forward in creating an inclusive environment for all. By implementing features that cater to diverse disabilities, Starbucks is revolutionizing the coffee shop experience. The company’s commitment to accessibility demonstrates its dedication to providing excellent service, regardless of an individual’s abilities. Through this initiative, Starbucks sets an industry standard for inclusivity, inspiring other businesses to prioritize accessibility and enhance the overall customer experience


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