Starbucks — A Web3 Odyssey

Over the past year, there has been no shortage of large companies entering the web3 space. While their success has varied, many have tried different strategies to integrate web3. Most have gone with a more web2.5 approach which helps to smooth the UX and sprinkle web3 aspects more as a bonus options for users. But what does web2.5 actually look like?

Starbucks Odyssey is Starbuck’s entrance into web3 with Polygon. Earn Points and Collect Stamps that are NFTs you can buy/sell/trade. Odyssey is a companion/separate program to Starbuck’s Reward program to explore customer’s appetite with web3…I mean web2.5. Now lets dig into what that actually entails and how it all works.

The Onboarding

In late January is when I, along with the next batch of beta testers, got an invite to the program. The signup and onboarding was straight forward and all web2. No need for Metamask (yet..) or writing down a seed phrase. Simply have a Starbucks Reward Account with the same email that you signed up for Odyssey and log into the website.

Choose an Avatar, I’m team Hummingbird

From there, read through a couple screens, pick an avatar out of 3 options and off you go to a nice landing page! The design was simple and clearly a start of things to come. Here you could answer quizzes, watch videos, and complete some simple challenges that guide users through the Starbucks Ecosystem. I’ll have to admit, I’m not a coffee drinker so it was enlightening learning about their approach to coffee… as I earned points of course.

“From Bean to Cup” Stamp

The goal behind earning points is to get to higher levels, of which there are 3 tiers so far. Unfortunately we’ll have to wait till at least April to hear what the benefits of these Levels are.

Another ladder to grind

The other goal of earning points is to complete all the items for a particular Stamp to collect that Stamp! Stamps help mark your achievements, give bonus points, are limited in number, and…are NFTs.

Gotta Collect’em All

Web2 -> Web2.5

Starbuck’s Odyssey uses Nifty Gateway as their prime marketplace to buy/sell Stamps. Their UI is straightforward and you’ll first need to complete the Seller Authorization Process. This involves linking Stripe Connect to your bank account along with email and phone number. The process was quick and now you can sell your newly earned achievement (or buy someone else’s)!

Nice and Simple Marketplace UI
Fee Breakdown

It looks like there’s a 7.5% Creator fee on all Starbuck’s Collections on Nifty. The Credit Card/Service fee in this case was 2.8%, but I did noticed this varied based on the Sale Amount.

Great, earn Stamps that are yours that you can buy and sell. Simple! And no gas fees or need for Metamask, this is the web3 we need right? Well Again… so far 100% of this experience has been completely off-chain. Buying and Selling is simplified(no need for gas), done in $ USD, linked to a bank account, simple UI, but there’s no way to track any of this on any blockchain.

Buys/Sells All off-chain

Till this point I would consider this Web2.5, but you may have noticed the “Withdraw Nifty” button. Let’s click that and move to web3.

Web 2.5 -> Web3

The “Withdraw Nifty” process is straightforward. At this point you do need Metamask or another wallet, and enter your address(Polygon Address), pay withdraw fees(this collection has $0 withdraw fees), and click withdraw. Even this process is simple and Nifty covers the gas. Thank you Nifty, it’s the small things, 0.012 MATIC to be exact, that count.

Withdraw Successful!

When you receive your Stamp NFT to your wallet, it matches the ID Number in the Nifty Gateway Marketplace. Everything is being accounted for, and now you have it, you have your own achievement as an NFT in your wallet, it’s yours…now what?

You could sell it on Opensea, but there you’ll pay 10% creator fees and now you will have gas fees for everything (even though gas is only a few cents since you’re on Polygon). At this point, with no utility to self custody your Stamp NFT so there’s not much reason to take it off Nifty. Maybe in the future, but not now.

So with no outside utility (yet…) let’s get this NFT back on Nifty and in our display case in the Star Bucks Odyssey App. Yes, it disappears when you withdraw it from Nifty in your Odyssey Stamp Collection.

Let’s get this thing back home

To Deposit you NFT back to Nifty, you need to connect your wallet (sign a tx) and send your Stamp NFT back to the deployer address. Important to note that only Nifty NFTs can be sent to this address and anything else could be lost.

Awesome, our Stamp NFT is now back home in our collection, and available to use within the Nifty marketplace!

OK, what does this all mean?

On top of this, it seems at least 1 item to get any Stamp is related to a purchase. To get my “Bean to Cup Journey” Stamp I had to purchase a bag of coffee beans for $13.95….which I’ll be giving to my parents who appreciate whole bean coffee. So they’ve sold +260 bags of coffee to add.

Taken on 1/29/2023

Benefits for the various Levels of points won’t come out till April, but you can imagine there’s some interesting gamification that could happen. Maybe some levels won’t be reachable unless you buy stamps, giving Stamps bonuses if you have a particular set of them, various tasks connected to the Starbucks Rewards App, these possibilities exist and are made simpler when not connected directly to smart contract development.

Oh and bonus Points from Stamps aren’t forever, they Expire!! Honestly a great mechanic to have.

NFTs are forever but your Bonus Points last till end of 2023

Lastly, this approach gives something for everyone. Collectors can collect, Traders can trade, and web3 users can self custody. This funnel holds true where the the median is ~14% for # Sales / Unique Holders. And Self Custody? Seems less than ~4% of holders are doing this, and made a Dune Dashboard to track withdraws and holders.

Only time will tell how successful Starbuck’s venture into web3 is, but I will say they achieved one thing. I made my first ever purchase from Starbucks when I got that bag of whole bean coffee…and I may need to buy more to go on this web3 journey with them.


Nothing in this article should be considered as financial advice, please do your own research



Engineer by day, crypto enthusiast by night. Trying out the various crypto protocols, games, and looking at blockchain data.

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Joshua Dear

Engineer by day, crypto enthusiast by night. Trying out the various crypto protocols, games, and looking at blockchain data.