Starbucks' new megastore in Shanghai is so big, it needs a 'tour guide'
Starbucks is making a big impression in Shanghai: a 30,000-square-foot impression.
Opening Tuesday in the Chinese city is Starbucks' second Reserve Roastery, a "megastore" that is more of a mecca for coffee lovers than a traditional cafe.
The locations, which feature small-batch roastings of rare and exotic coffees, are under the careful watch of former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Schultz stepped down from his post in April to focus on those coffee bars and remained on as the company's executive chairman.
It is Starbucks' hope that the Roastery locations will become destinations for coffee drinkers rather than just a place to stop while you're at the mall. That's especially the goal as more customers swap their spending to online stores and visit brick-and-mortar shops less often.
The company has even enlisted the help of e-commerce giant Alibaba to create an augmented reality experience within the Roastery.
The company's flagship Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room opened in its home market of Seattle in 2014. Starbucks has said it could open as many as 20 to 30 Roastery stores around the world.
The Shanghai location is just one of five Roasteries expected to open before 2020. Roasteries are currently slated to open in Milan and New York in 2018 and in Tokyo and Chicago in 2019.
A LOOK INSIDE STARBUCKS SHANGHAI ROASTERY
China has become Starbucks' second-largest and fastest growing market.There are more than 3,000 Starbucks stores in China, with 600 in Shanghai alone, and Starbucks plans to increase that number to 5,000 by 2021. At this rate, the coffee giant estimates that a new store opens ever 15 hours in China.
The design for the new Roastery was inspired by coffee and created exclusively for Starbucks' Chinese customers and will not be repeated in other locations. One of the key designs is the ceiling, which is comprised of 10,000 handmade wooden hexagon-shaped tiles. Starbucks said that the shape was inspired by an espresso machine.
COFFEE EXPERIENCE BARS
Starbucks' Shanghai Roastery has three coffee experience bars, one of which is a whopping 88 feet long, the longest Starbucks coffee bar in the world.
The bars allow customers to be up close and watch as their coffee is brewed.
This Roastery has more than 100 beverages available for purchase, including Teavana tea infused with nitrogen and a new steam tea brewing technique.
Like the location in Seattle, the Shanghai Roaster will feature menu items that cannot be found at any other Starbucks location.
The Roastery in Shanghai also includes China's first Teavana Bar. The bar is made entirely out of 3-D printed recycled materials, the company said.
In addition, the light jade colouring of the bar was inspired by ancient green clay teapots, Starbucks said.
Princi, which made its debut in Seattle's Roastery last month, is also featured in Shanghai's Roastery.
This location will be manned by more than 30 skilled Chinese bakers and chefs and feature more than 80 items baked fresh on-site daily.
For those that visit Shanghai's Roastery, Starbucks has included an augmented reality experience. Customers can use their smartphones to learn more about key features within the Roastery.
Diners need only point their phones at items within the Roastery to get more information about them and Starbucks' history. The "tour guide" is powered by Alibaba.
This article was first published in CNBC.