The Difference Between Barnes & Noble Starbucks And Target Starbucks

At a glance, Starbucks located in a Barnes & Noble or Target may not seem too different from an independent Starbucks. However, all three have their differences, with the most obvious being that Starbucks locations inside a Barnes & Noble or Target are owned and run by those stores, rather than by corporate Starbucks. As such, employees at these locations are considered employees of Barnes & Noble or Target, and not employees of Starbucks.

To be clear, Barnes & Noble and Target locations are allowed to order supplies through corporate Starbucks, but these supplies can only be used in specific, licensed Starbucks drinks. That being said, Target Starbucks offers essentially the same menu as regular Starbucks while Barnes & Noble Starbucks is only a small portion of the store's café. Barnes & Noble cafes actually have agreements with other chains, meaning you could get a tin of Harney & Sons tea, a slice of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, and a Starbucks-flavored latte all in one place.

Barnes & Noble Starbucks is the least like Starbucks

If Barnes & Noble's non-exclusivity with Starbucks wasn't a big enough difference, its partnership in general is much more strict than that of Starbucks and Target despite having started six years earlier (1993 and 1999, respectively). For instance, while Target Starbucks allows the use of both Starbucks gift cards (and associated rewards) and Target Circle, Barnes & Noble only allows the use of its own gift cards. This means you cannot buy nor use a Starbucks gift card at Barnes & Noble.

As noted previously, Starbucks is only a fraction of Barnes & Noble's café options, so the menu is limited to mainly Frappuccinos, lattes, and other basic coffees. No Starbucks frozen lemonades, chocolatey croissants, or sweet cake pops here, unfortunately. These locations also will likely not carry seasonal or new menu items, being that they would require additional licenses and stock. Because Barnes & Noble Starbucks receive much less traffic than those at Target or independent locations, it may not be worth it for the bookstore to further invest.

Why can't you mobile order Starbucks at in-store locations?

Another sad reality that sets Barnes & Noble and Target Starbucks apart from regular Starbucks is the fact that you can't use the Starbucks app and its perks. This could in part be due to the app not being included in the initial agreements, but there's no way to tell for sure as neither company has commented on the issue.

Rather, the lack of mobile ordering again boils down to Starbucks not owning these in-store locations. Starbucks located inside Barnes & Noble, Target, or any other store is seen as separate from the corporate system, and as such, they do not have access to the corporate-owned app, rewards program, or even certain menu items. However, Target has launched a curbside service for its Starbucks cafes, allowing customers to wait in their cars while a barista delivers their order (per Target).

At the end of the day, if you're looking for the full Starbucks experience –- corporate-trained employees, every menu item and customization, mobile ordering -– you're better off finding an independent Starbucks. After all, Starbucks locations within another store are intended to be secondary services, not the sole draw.