US Airports Could Soon See More Local Coffee Shops Over Starbucks

A large percentage of us have somewhat of an affinity with a Starbucks coffee. Mostly, it’s an home from home comfort that’s synonymous with consistency and good taste. However, there will soon be fewer Starbucks outlets in US airports. Here’s why…

Starbucks Coffee in Airport
Starbucks is set to be replaced by local coffeehouses. Photo: Getty Images

The rise of the local coffee house

One of the most likely sights in a US Airport is a Starbucks. The international chain has occupied territory in American terminals for many, many years. However, the coffee scene is now changing and the ‘independent coffee house’ is moving in to take on the competition from Starbucks’ mass coffee production.

This change has been felt in numerous cities in the past few years, although airports have not been hit with the wave of local-roasted coffee beans. However, that’s set to come into effect once current Starbucks’ agreements end.

It’s all part of a newfangled airport shakeup. HMS Host, an airport-service food company who brings catering venues to airports, is now changing its partnership in favor of more local companies. In a statement on 30th January 2020, HMS Host released a press statement in which it seems optimistic about new ventures with local coffee houses. It said:

“Coffee continues an impressive trajectory as one of the fastest growing beverage categories. After years of exceptional growth in local and regional brands across all other restaurant categories, including casual dining and quick-service restaurants, HMS Host recognized the need to expand this approach in its coffee brands to unleash the growth potential in the category. As such, HMS Host will be changing its partnership with Starbucks Corporation…Consumers desire sustainable, traceable coffee that tastes delicious and supports growers and local economies.”

This all seems very promising but also suggests that Starbucks cannot offer the values that other more independent and local coffee shops can.

What’s wrong with Starbucks?

Well, there’s nothing actually wrong with Starbucks. It’s still profitable and its a household name that guarantees its custom. What’s really going on here is that HMS Host is moving with a culture change. It’s true that Starbucks might not create the same fuss that it did a while ago but it is still popular. Are customers ready for the rise of the local coffeehouse?

Will customers want to change? Photo: Marc van der Chijs via Flickr

The draw that Starbucks has on other coffee shops is that customers know what they’re getting and for what price. Moreover, they know what they like. If airports switch up their coffee offering, will they lose out? Are people willing to try new coffees at a premium price whilst they transit through the airport? Well, if HMS Host is right in its insight, customers may already be trying out new coffee shops in their local area. That’s suggestion enough that they will take the opportunity to try out new vendors whilst they are traveling.

What’s more, HMS Host is not just looking at diversifying its coffee. It says that it’s experimenting with local tastes to recreate regional cuisine within airports. It has already had success on this front. Ergo, we might also see far fewer common fast-food chains in airports as well.

McDonalds fast food chain
Could fast food chains also bear the brunt of new developments? Photo: Marek Ślusarczyk via Wikimedia Commons

What will this change look like?

It appears that HMS Host might be aware that removing Starbucks’ might not be the most favorable decision for everyone. As a result, it’s come up with an elaborate plan on how to completely revolutionize the way that coffee is produced, ordered, and even delivered. It talks about “coffee shops during the day that are designed to transition to lively bars in the evening with great music entertainment”, “innovative mobile carts that move from gate-to-gate” and, “coffee shops built for speed through highly efficient designs that eliminate lines”.

US Airports Could Soon See More Local Coffee Shops Over Starbucks
HMS Host will try its new direction at Jacksonville International Airport. Photo: Qwesy qwesy via Wikimedia Commons

The company is so hopeful in its new direction that it has already begun laying the foundations in Jacksonville International Airport in Florida. HMS Host has signed a 10-year contract with a coffee company based in the state. Southern Grounds will operate in Jacksonville International from fall 2020.

Should Starbucks stay or are local coffee shops the way forward? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.