Starbucks testing green coffee in summer drinks

Wed Aug 4, 2010 11:19am EDT
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By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Starbucks Corp will begin testing summer drinks with a base of green, unroasted coffee on Wednesday as it works on new products to drive sales and differentiate itself from rivals like McDonald's Corp.

The drinks, called "Refreshers," will be sold at 113 company-operated cafes around San Diego, California, and priced from $2.50 to $2.95. Starbucks' vice president of global beverage Julie Felss Masino said they are made of fruit and low in calories and caffeine.

Ingredients include a "flavor neutral" powdered extract made from unroasted green coffee and formulated to have less of a caffeine kick than regular coffee, she said.

"It's coffee that doesn't taste like coffee," she said.

Investors watch new product launches from high-profile companies like Starbucks because they can open up new sales opportunities. Starbucks invented the Frappuccino blended beverage and turned it into a $2 billion annual business,

Starbucks has been focusing on new drinks after a massive restructuring that closed roughly 900 cafes globally.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein)

<p>People walk past the Starbucks outlet on 47th and 8th Avenue in New York June 29, 2010. REUTERS/Lily Bowers</p>