Starbucks puts a coffee shop on rails
By David Szondy
November 17, 2013
Apparently not content with putting a coffee shop on every second street corner, Starbucks has teamed with Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) to expand into rail travel with the unveiling of the first railway carriage converted into a Starbucks.
The double-decker car uses a design that combines design elements based on coffee with Swiss detailing in what Starbucks calls the smallest bar it has ever designed. With its ubiquitous green logo and “Starbucks” emblazoned on the side along with specially-designed icons showing menu items and a Fairtrade symbol, the Starbucks carriage isn't hard to pick out.
Inside, the coffee carriage is divided into two levels, both of which share a color scheme based on coffee-associated shades and tints. Since this is a mode of transportation rather than architecture, the challenge was to address concerns not only of comfort and commerce, but also space and safety. With its seating for a total of 50 people, the design focuses on serving passengers on short journeys.
The lower, entry level features a curved wooden serving bar with a small pastry case. However, the espresso machine is a simpler, automated device compared to those found in a more stationary Starbucks. Along the windows there are standing bars and, according to Starbucks, the wood for these and throughout has been treated to conform to stringent safety requirements.
Upstairs, there’s a second coffee bar and a lounge area with movable club chairs covered in beige leather with detailed stitching, with a small lantern in each lounge window made to look like an upside-down Starbucks cup completing the look. Starbucks says that the seats are made from clip-together parts that can be quickly removed and replaced.
The knotty wooden “community” tables remind passengers that they’re on a train by sporting a groove in the middle to hold drinks in place while going around corners or changing speeds. In each table is a specially designed dial designed to resemble a Swiss watch dial. These are numbered to help the staff in delivering drinks when passengers order from their tables.
“It was an incredible and rewarding challenge to design our first ever Starbucks store on a train," says Liz Muller, director of concept design for Starbucks. "We had to combine functionality and beautiful design, whilst taking into account a variety of factors such as constant movement of the train, space limitation and stringent safety regulations. This is one of the smallest espresso bars and stores we have ever designed and is a result of a unique collaboration of experts, including local designers and engineers from SBB. Working closely together with SBB over the past two years, makes me very proud that we can now truly bring the Starbucks Experience to life on this train.”
The Starbucks train will make its first official trip as part of the 06:36 AM Geneva Airport to St.Gallen in Switzerland train on Thursday.