Why You Often See Starbucks Inside Barnes & Noble Locations

When you walk into your local Barnes & Noble, you probably expect to see two things: Books and a Starbucks. The collaboration makes a lot of sense because what goes better together than reading a new book and sipping a warm cappuccino — or a frosty frappuccino if that's your thing? We all probably have fond memories from our childhood or teenage years of grabbing the latest bestseller and sipping on a beverage to guide us through the pages. Bookstores with cafes aren't necessarily unique, but it is more wide stream after this collaboration.

So what exactly ignited the relationship between the two chains across the U.S.? It started back in 1993 when Barnes & Noble decided to add cafes to their existing and future locations. According to United Press International, the companies decided to team up "to provide a consistent, quality cup of coffee for readers to enjoy while perusing the latest best-sellers." At the time, there were only 36 existing Barnes & Noble locations, compared to the 600 stores across the U.S. now.

The difference in Barnes & Noble Cafes

When you order at Barnes & Noble Cafe, you'll recognize some of the items you're used to at a standalone Starbucks like their cappuccinos, lattes, and frappuccinos, including the popular seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice lattes. Even so, these in-store cafes aren't exactly the same as a standalone Starbucks. That's because the cafes are licensed to sell Starbucks products like those beverages we mentioned earlier, which is why their cups read "Barnes & Noble Cafe serving Starbucks Coffee." The cafes also sell food products that aren't available at brick-and-mortar Starbucks locations. You can buy salads, sandwiches, soups, and pastries (including cheesecake by The Cheesecake Factory), and some locations sell Godiva chocolates.

Another big difference is that you cannot use your Starbucks app or gift cards to pay for your order because these locations are technically still considered Barnes & Noble because they are licensing Starbucks products. You might recall that viral TikTok of the Barnes & Noble Cafe employee venting about customers who try paying with Starbucks gift cards despite a sign advising they cannot be accepted. That being said, you can use the book giant's gift cards to pay for your coffee or pastry at the cafes inside its stores.