Foursquare friends Starbucks, adds ‘Barista’ badge

Foursquare is now testing a customer loyalty program with coffee giant Starbucks.

So what’s in it for you? So far, a fancy new “Barista” badge available after five check-ins at separate Starbucks locations. Although no cash back or complimentary coffee is involved yet, Foursquare’s popularity hasn’t been negatively impacted by the lack of incentive beyond badges for participating in the game. Starbucks says that while their social media presence has been decent so far (with a healthy community on Facebook and fans on Twitter), the convergence of fandom and location is what makes Foursquare so compelling to them:

“It’s where the intersection between digital and physical starts to get interesting,” said Chris Bruzzo, vice president of brand, content and online at Starbucks. “Starbucks loves that, because we’re always looking for that intersection, which we think is the evolution of social networks.”

Mobile coupons are certainly gaining a foothold among advertisers- Starbucks may add discounts eventually, but the motivation for the new Foursquare partnership is largely social:

Starbucks may do that, but Mr. Bruzzo said he is hoping to use Foursquare to provide even more meaningful prizes, like invitations to special events, photo sharing or online reputation scores, he said.

“This allows us to do things that are not just coupons,” he said. “You can expect us to be experimenting in this space.”

The New York Times says that customers participating in the program will get “rewards,” but does not elaborate as to what those incentives may be. It’s also not clear whether the “Barista” badge will be awarded retroactively, but it is likely you will have to check-in to five Starbucks locations anew before receiving the Starbucks badge.