Starbucks hits the tracks in Switzerland
US coffee giant Starbucks unveiled its first ever coffee house on rails Thursday, promising to add a caffeine boost to train rides in Switzerland.
The coffee goliath, which has rapidly been conquering Europe since it opened its first store on the continent in the alpine country 12 years ago, has joined forces with the country's national rail company SBB to open its first store on a train.
With the Starbucks name and distinctive green logo plastered across the outside of the two-story car, inside smiling baristas in green aprons offer up hazelnut macchiatos and skinny mochas in a setting reminiscent of the brand's static stores.
The new coffee house car, with take-away service on the lower deck and table service upstairs, was shown off to journalists in Zurich Thursday, and will be hitting the tracks on November 21.
During the nine-month trial period, it will make two daily trips between Geneva and St. Gallen in the northeast.
"We are going to be doing something for the very first time anywhere in the world, opening a store on a train," Kris Engskov, who heads the Starbucks in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told reporters.
Despite predictions that Europeans would snub Starbucks's pricey brews and remain faithful to their local cafes, the US brand has been taking the continent by storm since opening its first store in Zurich in 2001.
Starbucks today counts some 2,000 stores in 34 countries in the three regions, including around 700 in Britain alone.
Switzerland, home to the company's global coffee trading office, is a good place to start testing service on rail.
The wealthy mountainous country boasts the world's most densely-used rail network, moving some five million customers in 2012 alone.
SBB said Thursday the arrangement would be evaluated after nine months to determine if the high-speed coffee house should become a permanent fixture and if it should be expanded to other lines.
© 2013 AFP