Starbucks to start selling alcohol

Starbucks plans to begin selling beer and wine in a small number of cafes in Atlanta and Southern California by the end of this year, Reuters reported.

Starbucks is planning to add alcohol and snacks, such as bread and cheese platters, to up to half a dozen stores in each state.

The coffee giant began selling the items over a year ago in the Seattle area. Five stores in Seattle and one in Portland, Oregon, now offer the extended menu, Dow Jones newswires reported.

"As our customers transition from work to home, many are looking for a warm and inviting place to unwind and connect with the people they care about," Clarice Turner, Starbucks' senior vice president of US operations, said in a statement.

The company is hoping the move will bolster afternoon and evening sales.

At the stores that currently sell alcohol, beer is $5 and glasses of wine are $7 to $9. Starbucks is creating the bar menu "so it's relevant to local taste preferences," Turner said, Bloomberg reported.

The company said it does not expect to sell alcohol in all of its nearly 11,000 cafes but will have beer and wine in Chicago stores by the end of 2012, and is testing sales in Spain.

California-based industry watchdog Alcohol Justice has criticized alcohol sales by Starbucks and fast-food chain Burger King, which offers beer at its new Whopper Bar restaurants, Reuters reported

Sarah Mart, the group's director of research, said "the more places that open, the more risk there is of alcohol-related harm" such as underage drinking.

Starbucks shares fell 1.7 percent to close at $47.34.

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