Starbucks' crypto marketplace is selling pictures of coffee cups for $1,000

Quick Take

  • Interested in a picture of a cup of coffee with whipped cream on top? You can pick one up on Starbucks’ NFT marketplace for about $1,000.
  • This is normal.

Pictures of coffee cups are changing hands on Starbucks’ NFT marketplace for around $1,000.

No actual coffee comes with the offer.

We all know that Starbucks has somehow made us pay extravagant prices for what is, fundamentally, flavored hot water. In New York, a "venti toasted Graham" currently goes for $6.88. But we comfort ourselves with the thought that even though we might be overpaying, we were still getting some actual caffeine in actual coffee in an actual cup.

Starbucks’ is so expensive — compared to regular coffee — that giving up your daily Starbucks habit has often been touted as a way to get rich. Shawn Carter, a writer for Forbes, once calculated that Starbucks costs him $2,300 a year.

But now, Starbucks is offering you a much faster way to get rich: if you were lucky enough to obtain a “Holiday Cheer Edition 1 Stamp” last year — there were only 5,000 of them! — you could expect to sell it on for $1,000, according to Starbucks’ Odyssey NFT marketplace. There have been 210 sales in the secondary market since the collection launched four months ago, with the most recent deal closing at $901 today. 

To be clear: Starbucks is not selling these NFTs. This is simply the price they are fetching on the secondary market as owners trade them amongst each other on Starbucks' NFT platform. On the much larger trading platform OpenSea, one coffee cup was sold for 0.99 ETH in March, worth about $2,000 at the time.

Crypto natives will yawn at all of this. They regard it as normal. Infamously, the more popular NFT collections are driven by outrageous ideas. Someone once paid $3.4 million for a Bored Ape. Donald Trump has made up to $1 million from a set of pictures in which his head is crudely edited onto the bodies of various action heroes.

Starbucks' new NFT collection starts at $100 each


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The Holiday Cheer Starbucks stamp was released last December and features a generic picture of a seasonal coffee cup with whipped cream on top and the year, 2022.

Starbucks initially offered the NFTs for free as a loyalty marketing gimmick that offered rewards to anyone willing to complete various interactive journeys, games, and virtual tours related to coffee and the corporate history of Starbucks. Consumers earned Odyssey Points, which qualified them for an NFT.

The program was a success and Starbucks now has six different NFT collections available. Its next one will be "The Starbucks First Store Collection,” which highlights the company's first location, which opened in 1971 in Seattle's Pike Place Market, as my colleague Yogita Khatri reported. Prices for those will start at $100.

Now those earlier NFTs are available for sale to anyone on Starbucks Odyssey. And despite the fact that none of the NFTs will get you an actual coffee at an actual Starbucks, prices have gone up.

It’s not clear whether the market is driven by demand from Starbucks fanatics or clever “investors” who are artificially hyping the price through wash trading (the practice of repeatedly selling a token through a series of wallets all owned by a single person to make it appear that demand is brisk).

Either way, if you want to buy someone a very expensive and mostly impractical Christmas gift, Starbucks Odyssey has got you: And it’s only April!

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Jim is the former editor-in-chief of Insider's news division and the founding editorial director of DL News. Previously he was the founding editor of Business Insider UK. He has also been managing editor at Adweek, an advertising columnist at CBS Interactive, and a Knight-Bagehot Fellow at Columbia Business School. His work has appeared in Slate, Salon, The Independent, MTV, The Nation and AOL. His investigative journalism changed the law in the US First Circuit Court of Appeals (U.S. v. Kravetz), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (North Jersey Media v. Ashcroft), New Jersey (In Re El-Atriss), and New York State (Mosallem v. Berenson). The US Supreme Court cited his work on the death penalty in the concurrence to Baze v. Rees, on the issue of whether lethal injection is cruel or unusual. He won the Neal award for business journalism in 2005 for a series investigating bribes and kickbacks in the advertising business. You can reach him on Twitter @Jim_Edwards or Linkedin


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