The coffee chain’s massive new “Premium Reserve Roastery” is full of high-tech touches.
Starbucks is opening its biggest store ever, in Shanghai, on December 6. The 30,000-square-foot space at 789 Nanjing Road W. will feature a coffee-roasting area; three separate coffee bars; and the first Teavana Bar in China.
It’s the second such space that Starbucks has opened; the first was in Seattle, three years ago, occupying an entire city block in the Capital Hill neighborhood, and more are expected to open in New York and Milan next year. The concepts are intended to be both a manufacturing and a cafe space; beans are roasted, packaged, and brewed on-site.
The Shanghai location—which, to be clear, is more than half the size of a football field—looks a little overwhelming in photos. Its most prominent feature is a two-story-high, 40-ton copper cask adorned with 1,000 Chinese stamps which, Starbucks says, are hand-engraved, telling the company’s story. The cask connects to the three coffee bars with pneumatic copper piping, replenishing all of the coffee silos.
At those three coffee bars, some of the rarest small-batch coffees in the world will be poured, the company says, using any of six brewing methods (Chemex, Clover, etc). These coffees include some grown in the Pu’er region of China’s Yunnan Province (an area much better known for its aged and fermented teas), which will only be available at the Roastery in Shanghai. We’re curious to see how the first Teavana in China is received; it brings to mind the old phrase “bringing coals to Newcastle.”
The Roastery will offer food freshly baked onsite by Italian company Rocco Princi—the Italian bakery’s first setup in Asia—and there’ll be a “culinary concierge” on hand, according to a press release, to guide consumers through the food offerings.
And for a truly over-the-top touch, if customers want to learn even more, they can point their cellphones around the Roastery for an augmented reality experience that offers facts about roasting, brewing methods, and more. It’s the first such tech experience from the company.
China is Starbucks’ fastest-growing market, with a store opening there every 15 hours, says the brand, and the Roastery joins more than 3000 Starbucks stores across 136 cities in China. Shanghai alone already has more than 600 branches of the chain. It doesn’t hurt that the chain has a certain prestige in China, acting as a social signifier for the nation’s rapidly expanding middle class. For those fans, this new Roastery will be their coffee mecca.