Ceiling canopy features 10,000 handmade wooden hexagon-shaped tiles inspired by the locking of an espresso shot on an espresso machine
Starbucks opened its most ambitious project to date – the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai, the first fully immersive coffee experience in Asia – in early December last year. When the doors opened to the world’s second Starbucks Roastery, created three years after the inaugural Seattle Roastery, customers were greeted by a multisensory coffee experience in an interactive coffee and retail destination like no other.
The Roastery is the epitome of coffee and retail innovation for Starbucks in China, the company’s fastest-growing market with more than 3,000 stores across 136 cities, unprecedented for any global consumer brand and with immense growth opportunity. Currently, Starbucks already has more than 600 stores in Shanghai – the largest number of stores in any city where Starbucks has a presence.
As customers enter the Roastery and step through the front doors of the 2,700 square meter (30,000 square foot) building, they are greeted by the stunning sight of a two-storey copper cask, adorned with more than 1,000 traditional Chinese chops, or stamps, handengraved to narrate the storey of Starbucks and coffee.
As part of their experience, customers can visit many attractions including one of three coffee bars offering multiple brewing methods, explore specially-crafted teas at the 3D printed tea bar, enjoy freshly baked Italian artisanal food by Princi, and marvel at the ceiling made of 10,000 handmade wooden hexagon-shaped tiles, inspired by the locking of an espresso shot on an espresso machine.And, all along the way, customers can point their mobile devices around the Roastery for of coffee leadership and retail innovation with China’s rich, diverse culture.”
A theater of coffee with a Chinese focus
For the first time ever, unique, small-lot Reserve coffee which Starbucks sources from more than 30 countries around the world, including coffee from China’s Yunnan Province, will be roasted in China by eight highly trained Chinese coffee roasters – passing on 46 years of Starbucks roasting expertise to the first batch of Chinese roasters.
Customers can watch the green beans as they are roasted, then sent through copper “symphony” pipes (named because of the musical sound the beans make as they travel through them) directly to silos at the coffee bars, where customers can enjoy a fresh cup of Reserve coffee, or to the in-house pack line to be packaged for distribution across Starbucks Reserve stores in China.
The three wooden coffee bars, including one that is 27 meters (88 feet) long – the longest at any Starbucks – are handcrafted by premiere Chinese artisans and reference the unique roasting curve of individual coffee beans, executing the Roastery’s design vision of Liz Muller, Senior Vice President of Creative Global Design for Starbucks. The bars serve as the stage where hundreds of baristas will handcraft some of the rarest, small-lot coffees in the world using one of six brewing methods: ModBar® Pour Over, Chemex, Coffee Press, Siphon, Espresso and the proprietary Clover-brewed coffee.
According to Muller, the design always goes back to the product. Taking inspiration from the Starbucks palette, the store design goes from the green of the fresh beans to the deep dark brown of roasted coffee. The woods are warm and walnut, and lighting is the white of the milk froth. The copper has a beautiful, authentic glow like the flame of the roaster.
All the furniture is uniquely designed, and Muller likes to call it their New Eames line. People really stroke the wood, which was created in a collaboration with Danish design studio OEO and Chinese craftsmen. The carved wooden stools invite customers making them feel comfortable. There are also long chaise lounges, benches, and coffee tables – all branded Star R as well as the coffee club’s ergonomic walnut lounge chairs, which have copper arms wrapped in hand-stitched leather.
Arguably the most impressive feature of the store is the ceiling canopy, which comprises 10,500 hexagonal tiles made from aluminum sheeting veneered with wood by hand. According to Muller, the wave shape was inspired by the company’s “roasting curves,” which is the name for the recipes it uses for roasting small-batch coffee.
A groundbreaking digital experience
The Shanghai Roastery will become the first Starbucks location, and the first-of-its kind in China, to seamlessly integrate a real-time, in-store and online customer experience. Roastery customers are invited to immerse themselves in the first Starbucks augmented reality (AR) experience – accessible through the customdesigned Roastery digital web-app platform or on Alibaba’s Taobao app – by simply pointing their mobile devices at key features around the Roastery to bring to life information about the Starbucks bean-to-cup story.
To help customers create their personal Roastery discovery journeys, the Roastery digital webapp platform also incorporates a digital menu and will, intuitively through AR technology, share details of the coffee bars, brewing methods, as well as other notto-be-missed unique online and offline experiences. Each step of the way, customers unlock a virtual badge and once all badges are earned, they receive a custom Roastery filter to commemorate the moment and share on social media. The Shanghai Roastery digital experience is designed by Starbucks and powered by Alibaba Group’s scene-recognition technology.
Princi, Italian artisan bakery comes to Asia
At the Shanghai Roastery, acclaimed baker Rocco Princi combines the craft of bread baking, exceptional ingredients and the “Spirito di Milano” to bring his artisanal offerings to Asia for the first time. Princi, famed for bakeries in Milan and London, joins the premium Starbucks Reserve brand as the exclusive food pairing to its rare, small-lot coffees. Princi is the exclusive food offering in all Starbucks Roastery locations, including Seattle, Shanghai and upcoming locations.
“Rocco and his team’s passion for handcrafted food and artisanal baked goods at Princi mirrors how I feel about our coffee,” said Schultz. “His attention to detail, meticulous care in selecting the freshest, high-quality ingredients and the artistry of preparation creates an Italian food experience that perfectly pairs with our most premium coffees. I look forward to seeing Princi’s success in Seattle further extend to our Roastery in Shanghai.”
A tribute to China’s tea culture
The new Shanghai Roastery features China’s first Starbucks Teavana Bar, an entirely modern tea experience specifically designed for Chinese customers. While demonstrating deep respect for the thousands of years of Chinese tea tradition, the Starbucks Teavana Bar reimagines a modern tea experience for customers who increasingly seek new and different tastes and experiences. Customers to the tea experience bar can select a Teavana signature pure tea or blend, served either hot or iced.
Using only the finest tea ingredients in the world, tea curators handcraft unexpected creations with tea mixology as well as nitrogen and tea. For those interested in experiencing a whole new brewing method, the Steampunk brings together science and theater. Watch tea leaves dance in the water, while steam extracts every nuanced flavor in one of tea’s most dynamic moments.
Inspired by the lima green of the traditional clay teapots in China, the tea experience bar is a light jade color with dark shadows to represent tea stains formed in a teapot over time. It is also the only tea bar created from recycled materials using a 3D printer, the only one of its kind, measuring 7.5 meters (25 feet) in length. According to Muller, coffee can be bold and loud, but the bar’s shape is beautiful and feminine like tea.
The Shanghai location is the first of five Roasteries that are expected to open before 2020. The remaining Roasteries are slated to open in Milan and New York in 2018, as well as in Tokyo and Chicago come 2019. It is Starbucks’ hope that the Roastery locations will become destinations for coffee drinkers rather than just a place to stop whilst at the mall. If the Shanghai location is an indication of things to come, the future for Starbucks looks extremely promising.