Starbucks Lends QSR Prowess to Expedite Vaccine Administration

The Starbucks team is working to create standardized Starbucks-like vaccination sites that can be replicated across the country.

Need to Know

  • Starbucks is joining the fight against COVID-19 by lending its team of designers and engineers to help expedite the vaccination process.
  • CEO Kevin Johnson has teamed up with the Washington state governor to build Starbucks-like vaccination sites that can vaccinate hundreds of millions of people in the state.
  • In collaboration with medical professionals, the iconic coffee chain is utilizing its innovation lab, the Tryer Center, to simulate and improve the vaccination process.


Starbucks is supporting the fight against COVID-19 by leveraging its team of engineers to help speed up the vaccine process. As a company that moves 100 million people through its doors each week, Starbucks could potentially use that same expertise to more effectively move people through vaccination sites, too. 

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson shared how he called up the governor of his home state, Washington, and offered to help scale the vaccination process. 

“Governor,” he said, “If you set a goal for the state, we will embrace that goal, and we’ll get every other business leader in this community to embrace that goal, and we will help you.”

Starbucks’ innovation lab, the Tryer Center, which is normally used to test and try new beverages, new equipment, and new store layouts, is already being used to simulate vaccination sites. 

The hope for the vaccination centers is that they will become standardized and easily reproduced across the country, much like a Starbucks chain. 

“It’s like a Starbucks with one product,” said Johnson.

Microsoft has also lent its technology expertise and Costco is joining in with its plan to provide vaccines from its pharmacies. 

“Our team of human-centered design engineers that have designed our stores to serve 100 million customers a week, they’re down there with nurses and medical professionals designing the workflow and designing the process for how we can get, you know hundreds of millions of customers vaccinated as quickly as possible, and we’re doing that in partnership with health care, and with Microsoft on the technology side,” Johnson said.

“This is a massive humanitarian effort that is going to take all of us working together.”

Both Walmart and Amazon have also jumped on the vaccine distribution challenge, opening vaccination sites at Walmart stores and Amazon pop-ups across the country. 

Always innovating, Starbucks has leaned on AI this past year to stay relevant amid the pandemic. 

The coffee chain recently launched an AI-powered tool called Deep Brew that will influence Starbucks’ operations from staffing and scheduling to inventory management and predictive ordering for customers, as well as help deepen personal connections with customers.

Starbucks this summer launched a blockchain technology tool that allows customers to “meet” the farmers who grow their coffee, tracing their purchase “from bean to cup.”

Innovation is working: In the first quarter of 2020 alone, Starbucks brought in over $7 billion in revenue.