Starbucks opens in China its largest coffee in the world

Andrew Cummings
December 7, 2017

Starbucks' scene-recognition software and AR experience is powered through a partnership with Alibaba Holding Group Ltd.

At 30,000 square feet, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai is the company's largest location in the world.

Quartz reports the 30,000 square feet outlet is called the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai.

Customers standing in front of the roasting cask at the first Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Asia will see a two-story copper vessel adorned with almost 3,000 hand-carved traditional Chinese chops or stamps. Once they hold their phone up to it, however, they can see inside the cask as newly roasted beans drop down inside - thanks to augmented reality.

The store has a Willy Wonka feel, with a giant two-story cask holding tons of freshly roasted beans that are sent out to the café's various bars through tubing that snakes along the ceiling while packaged beans wander around on conveyor belts. It is the second Starbucks Roastery with Seattle opening the first in 2014.

The new Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai features an augmented reality (AR) activity for customers that will blend the experiences of shopping online and in-store, according to a press release. Although Shanghai already has over 600 Starbuck stores, Shanghai's Roastery is twice the size of Seattle's.

The AR experience-which can be accessed through the roastery's digital web app platform or on Alibaba's Taobao app-acts as sort of a virtual tour guide for customers, explaining the different steps of the coffee-making process. "We didn't want people to have to queue".

Chinese elements are found in the design of the new coffee store.

"It's coffee as theater", said Echo Jiang, director of customer experience at the Roastery.

Roaming baristas on the floor can help customers create and place an order; they can pay on the spot and be digitally notified when their order is ready, along with the location where they can pick it up.

"That time is nearer than you think", said Schultz at the opening of the Roastery in Shanghai, adding that technology will not replace the brand's "humanity" in dealing with customers. "With AR, we are able to go beyond educating, enabling and engaging, to empowering our customers to experience the space on their own terms", said Chang. "This interactive, retail environment will allow customers in China to better understand the craft of roasting and brewing a range of Starbucks coffees including the rare, limited availability of Starbucks Reserve coffees from around the world". After earning them all, they can receive a custom Roastery social media filter to share online.

The ceiling is covered in 10,000 handmade tiles made from American walnut, that are hexagonal in shape and apparently inspired by the locking of an espresso shot on an espresso machine.

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