Starbucks has opened its 30,000-square-foot Reserve-brand roastery in Shanghai, China, featuring three brew bars, theatrical coffee delivery systems, a mobile-based augmented reality experience and intricate design work throughout that pays homage to the company and its 18-year history in China.
On Tuesday, crowds sampled fresh brews and watched beans being roasted on-site at the grand opening event for the brand's first worldwide Starbucks Reserve Roastery, focused on serving higher-end gourmet coffee. Customers can book coffee tasting experiences on Alibaba's e-commerce site and also buy special Starbucks Reserve coffee and related products tied to the store's launch.
Starbucks opened its first Chinese location in 1999; the world's most populous country is also the company's fastest-growing market, boasting more than 3,000 stores across 136 cities.
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The Shanghai Reserve roastery will be the first Starbucks store globally to offer its Yunnan Reserve coffee, a yellow-honey-process coffee from Yunnan, while Reserve-line coffees from approximately 30 other origins will be available throughout the year.
The Shanghai location is just one of five Roasteries expected to open before 2020.
"We firmly believe it is our role and responsibility to use our scale to give back to the communities as we continue to grow in China, and with the people of China", Belinda Wong, CEO of Starbucks China, said in a statement.
Additional Roasteries are slated to open in Milan and NY in 2018 and in Tokyo and Chicago in 2019. The three wooden coffee bars, including one that is 88 ft. long - the longest at any Starbucks - were handcrafted by premiere Chinese artisans and reference the unique roasting curve of individual coffee beans.
Customers can watch the beans get roasted, then sent through copper "symphony" pipes - named because of the musical sound the beans make as they travel through them - before being served a fresh cup of coffee.
In addition, the light jade colouring of the bar was inspired by ancient green clay teapots, Starbucks said. The bar is made entirely out of 3-D printed recycled materials, the company said. The Roastery's digital experience is designed by Starbucks and powered by Alibaba Group's scene-recognition technology.
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