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Coffee giant Starbucks testing toes in soda waters

July 2, 2013 at 7:39 PM   |   Comments

ATLANTA, July 2 (UPI) -- Starbucks, the 800-pound gorilla of the gourmet coffee world, is dipping its toes in the carbonated soft drink waters in two U.S. markets.

The Seattle company is trying out three flavors -- spiced root beer, ginger ale and lemon ale -- at stores in Atlanta and Austin, Texas, with an eye toward gaining a foothold in the $77 billion fizzy drink industry, USA Today reported Tuesday.

The newspaper said prices for the hand-crafted drinks hit $3.45 for a "venti" size in Atlanta.

The addition of carbonated soft drinks is part of a Starbucks trend to expand beyond coffee, following expansions into teas, juices and energy drinks, USA Today said.

Starbucks spokeswoman Lisa Passe said it's too early to tell whether the drinks will advance beyond the test markets.

"We test products to help us understand how new product extensions can fit within our customers daily routine -- throughout the day," she said.

Wall Street analyst Mark Kalinowski of Janney Capital Markets said "the odds favor" a national rollout as early as next year.

"While not everything Starbucks tests eventually makes it to a national rollout, we are pleased to see that the company isn't resting on its laurels," he said.

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