The world's biggest Starbucks officially opened today in Shanghai and who should be in attendance but singer, dancer, and tai chi master Jack Ma. "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".
They can have similar experiences all over the roastery, Emily Chang, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Starbucks, China, said in a company press release, "It's like Alice in Wonderland meets Willy Wonka". A two-story, 40-ton copper cask towers over the store, refilling the coffee bars' various silos. It's as if they've gone through the looking glass via their phones, peering inside the cask to watch an animated version of newly roasted beans dropping into the cask.
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.
"And it looks so wonderful here, many people will come just to look".
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At the Shanghai site, two huge black cast iron ovens churn out more than 80 different freshly baked products a day from focaccia sandwiches with real deal Parma ham and Italian mozzarella, to sinful desserts.
Starbucks has been unexpectedly successful in China - a country which is traditionally known for tea drinking - and its new half a football field long (30,000 square feet, to be precise) roastery-cum-store is the proof of it. We wanted to take that customer experience even further. Well, it exists now in Shanghai, China. The handcrafted long bar, one of three on site, is aptly-named, as at 88 foot it's the world's longest coffee bar. Customers can point their mobile devices at key features around the Roastery to immerse themselves in Starbuck's first augmented reality (AR) experience, which is accessible through the custom-designed Roastery digital web-app platform or on Alibaba's Taobao app.
The app has a digital menu as well as details on the huge, borderline bewildering, range of brewing methods that include the Cold Brew Tower, Modbar Pour-Over and Siphon. During their journey, customers can earn virtual badges. According to agency reports, a Starbucks opens in China every 15 hours.
"It's obvious to us that the holding power of China for Starbucks is going to be much more significant than the holding power of the U.S.", Howard Schultz, the founder and Chairman of the company, said on Tuesday.