Lofty ambitions are brewing for Starbucks, who in early December are set to open a 30,000 square foot Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai concept on Nanjing Xi Lu that will challenge homegrown hipster coffee brands.
The enormous 'immersive retail environment' will be the second Reserve Roastery ever and the first internationally, following a 2014 debut in Starbucks' hometown of Seattle (below).
The concept combines roasting, manufacturing, and education in a tasting room environment tailored specially to mainland customers, encouraging them to experience the process that turns raw beans into steaming cups of Joe – and hopefully underscore a perception of premium quality.Coffee specialists will be on hand to expand expectations, allowing them to discover exclusive "small lot" coffees and highbrow brewing methods, said Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in a prepared statement. "The Starbucks Roastery environment honors coffee innovation as a modern day Willy Wonka experience, where customers are only feet away from the theater and artistry of our coffee craft."
Beverages aside, international Italian baker Rocco Princi's Princi Bakery is another element to the Reserve Roastery. Princi Bakery will produce premium savory and sweet baked goods and casual food offers handmade onsite.
It's no secret that Chinese consumers have embraced coffee culture with open arms. Homegrown brands like Seesaw (below), Mellower, Ocean Grounds and Buzztime have seen one-off lifestyle cafés grow into city-wide chains, converting customers with craft beverages at prices that are comparable in price to Starbucks' mass market offerings.
Convenience marts are another threat to Starbucks' 2,800 store success in China, with 7-Eleven, Family Mart and Lawsons offering cheaper brews on the go.
Keen for a share in China's burgeoning third wave coffee culture, Starbucks has reaffirmed its commitment by sinking USD1.3 billion to buy out the two Taiwan firms that it previously shared 50 percent ownership of 1,300 East China outlets with.
With its presence now wholly owned, the success – or lack thereof – of the Reserve Roastery could influence the products and structure of its nationwide stores, in a market that it predicts will eventually overtake that of the U.S.
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