What fuels gentrification? The answer is the same thing that fuels the rest of us: coffee.
But not just any old cup o’ joe.
Starbucks, the iconic coffee roaster and retailer, has grown into a $15 billion company, with more than 19,000 locations in more than 60 countries. You can spot that familiar green-and-white logo from Saudi Arabia to Switzerland, in a Dubai shopping mall, or on a Carnival Cruise ship. Where the Berlin Wall once stood, there’s a shiny new Starbucks instead. Conveniently, one of our desks has a view of the original Starbucks store in Pike Place Market.
To explore exactly how closely the two correlate, we compared a database of Starbucks locations with Zillow data. And since Starbucks’ corporate headquarters in Seattle is located just a few miles down the road from Zillow, we also took the opportunity to pay our neighbors a visit, and to pick the brains of Starbucks’ own real estate analytics team—the whizzes who determine where to put that next Starbucks location.
Here’s what we can tell you: Starbucks equates with venti-sized home-value appreciation. Moreover, Starbucks seems to be fueling—not following—these higher home values.
And the reason why is that Starbucks’ real estate choices are, in their words, “as much an art as a science.” When deciding where to hang its next shingle, the company marries right-brain ingenuity with hard-headed, left-brain analysis—exactly as you should.
What does that look like in practice? Let’s look at the historical home value appreciation of areas that now are located within a quarter mile of a Starbucks. A home that is now near a Starbucks would have sold, on average, for $137,000. A home that is not near a Starbucks would have sold, on average, for $102,000.
Fast-forward 17 years to 2014. That average American home has now appreciated 65%, to $168,000. But the Starbucks-adjacent property has far outpaced that, appreciating 96% to $269,000.
To examine that possibility, we took a look at another prominent coffee chain, Dunkin’ Donuts.
What did we learn? Homes near Dunkin’ Donuts reflect a similar historical trend. But while they appreciate faster than the nation’s housing as a whole, they still don’t appreciate as fast as properties that are now a quarter-mile from a Starbucks.
Whatever the reasons—because they genuinely like drinking coffee, or because they see Starbucks as a proxy for gentrification—it seems pretty clear that people are paying a premium for homes near Starbucks. And furthermore, it looks like Starbucks itself is driving the increase in home values.