Starbucks Coffee Co plans to increase the number of its US coffee houses that also offer wine and beer in 2012.

Wine, beer and "premium food" will be served in a handful of Starbucks outlets in Atlanta and Southern California before the end of this year, Starbucks said yesterday (23 January). The move marks another step in the firm's tentative expansion into alcoholic drinks retailing.

In October 2010, Starbucks launched the concept at a store in its native Seattle, closely followed by a second launch in Portland, Oregon. In late-2011, it announced that it would expand the so-called "evening day-part plan" to several outlets in Chicago in 2012. 

"Building an evening day-part is a natural progression for us," said Starbucks' senior VP for the US market, Clarice Turner. "We’re pleased with the response of our customers to the introduction of wine, beer and premium food at several of our stores in the Pacific north-west, and we’re excited to see how the idea translates to other markets.”

Initially, only up to 12 stores in Atlanta and Southern California combined will serve wine and beer. "The wine and beer list will be hand-selected to reflect local customer tastes and preferences, and will be refined over time," said the group.

In its last fiscal year, to 2 October, Starbucks reported global net sales up by 9% to US$11.7bn. Operating profits increased by 22% to $1.73bn, with net profits up by 32% on the previous year to $1.24bn. In the US, comparable store sales increased by 8% for the 12 months.