With freshly roasted beans whizzing overhead and carefully choreographed baristas delivering nitrogen-infused tea and coffee-infused beer day and night, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai isn’t your average coffee shop. It’s retail as theater, a multifaceted space that can flex from morning coffee to evening dinner to late-night cocktails. And with queues wrapping around the block, they seem to be onto something.
For retailers like Starbucks, success is no longer about being a single-use business just for purchasing coffee or tea; customers want to visit a space with multiple experiences that can adapt to accommodate their shifting needs throughout the day. The purpose of the store today is less about solely selling product, and increasingly to humanize the brand and engage people emotionally. More and more, retailers are including convertible spaces to host different events in-store — from fashion shows to cooking classes — and expanding their service offerings so people can shop, work, relax, socialize, or be entertained at different points throughout the day.
From the moment visitors walk in the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai — before their first sip — their senses are engaged with the distinct aroma and sound of freshly ground beans roasted in the open. The 30,000-square-foot store — the first of its kind in Asia and the largest in the world — provides an immersive destination for visitors to experience the roasting process. Open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, the part-shop, part-showroom is the first Starbucks in China to also serve beer, wine, and spirits.
By turning everyday coffee and tea consumption into a dynamic, ritualistic experience where visitors can choose their own “journey,” the Roastery is a model for other locations around the globe. Guests can sample freshly baked pastries and handcrafted beverages; observe coffee beans being roasted in a two-story, four-ton copper cask; or learn about brewing methods by scanning their mobile phones at selected features in the store for an augmented reality experience co-created with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. The Roastery cements the brand’s foray into the company’s fastest-growing market, while providing an archetype for future locations.