Starbucks To Start Grinding Beans In Stores To Bring Back Aroma

SEATTLE (AP) — The aroma of coffee is about to make a comeback in Starbucks cafes.

Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Schultz will tell thousands of shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Wednesday that baristas will quit using flavor-locked bags of pre-ground coffee next month and get back to grinding beans in most of its U.S. stores.

In an interview before the meeting, Starbucks executives said they want to bring back some of the romance and theater that’s been missing from stores since the company switched to using sealed grounds years ago.

Michelle Gass, Starbucks’ senior vice president of global strategy, says she expects the change will improve sales, which have been slipping amid a softening economy and growing competition from cheaper rivals.

Schultz told USA Today, which first reported on the switch, that Starbucks also is working on a social networking initiative, but did not discuss details.