Shanghai’s very own Starbucks Reserve finally opened this past week, and lines are out the door to get into this coffee wonderland. I do find myself intrigued by Starbucks’ unique locations around the world but this time especially, I was enamored by Shanghai’s Starbucks Reserve experience.
“The complete and total commitment to the immersive experience of coffee craft”
It was indeed an experience to visit, especially since Starbucks Reserve in Shanghai paired up with Alibaba to create an integrative augmented reality (AR) experience through the Taobao APP. Each step of the coffee roasting process can be seen through AR. Even better, it was amazing to listen & watch the overhead ‘Symphony’ pipes transfer roasted coffee beans to the silos. Every time the beans passed through, it sent a satisfying jingle (and a wave of applause) throughout the floor.
So what was my first impression? Jam packed, beautifully designed, and full of holiday cheer.
A new eye-catching landmark at the corner of West Nanjing Road (akin to the 5th Avenue of Shanghai)
Handpicked at the Roast(ery) is the marketplace with carefully curated Reserve Coffees and other coffee brewing homeware
30,000ft+ of Starbucks means two floors of caffeinated goodness, everything from a Cold Brew Tower to a Teavana experience bar
If you want to indulge in a tasting experience, you can buy different packages that take you to the different bars within Shanghai’s Starbuck Reserve for signature drinks
Enamored with the coffee, or enamored with the beautiful cards? (We asked already, the ‘tasting cards’ only come with a purchase of coffee and is not available for individual retail)
I loved the beautiful bronze tones everywhere, especially these beautiful Starbucks coffee tins
The 2017 Christmas blend was a favorite among visitors–possibly because it includes a blend of rare aged Sumatra!
So many pretty sets of coffee-wares to ogle at! Handpicked at the Roastery has a great selection of cards, stationary, and mugs made especially for Shanghai Starbucks Reserve so it’s a lovely place to pick up a gift if you’re in town
‘SHANGHAI’ spelled out through a brilliant jigsaw puzzle, using tasting cards from all of Starbucks’ various blends throughout the years
The service was genuinely one of my favorite things–everybody was smiling and extremely responsive to (what is I’m sure) their millionth time answering the same questions
Princi in all its glory, supplying Starbucks Reserve with all the baked goods & Italian bread
Compared to the typical Starbucks pastries, these Princi ones definitely look much more buttery & fresh
Straight from the Cold Brew Tower (not my cold brew, but too amazing to not take a picture of)
We did manage to sample a cup of Reserve coffee amidst all the eager caffeine drinkers
We decided to grab a quick bite at Princi to try out their food; other than pasties, these baked flatbreads were wildly popular so I picked up a potato & bacon flatbread with rosemary
Between the two, I actually enjoyed this eggplant flatbread more which was a little more savoury & cheesy, definitely an upgrade from the typical Starbucks cafe options
My first time having Teavana outside of the US and I was told each blend follows the same recipe, but they try to source leaves and ingredients from all over China
Two floors of Starbucks Reserve glory, the Roasting Area on the first floor is definitely the center of attention as visitors on the second floor periodically peered down to observe the magic of coffee being roasted on-site
While you’re there, definitely recommend selecting some Princi bread to go
And lastly, the Starbucks Reserve commitment that I felt was definitely realized through their Shanghai opening
I will admit I don’t drink Starbucks often in Shanghai, as I normally opt for local coffee shops. However, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Shanghai because the entire in-store experience is Starbucks branding at its finest. What stood out the most from my visit was the attention to detail and service. Each experience area was carefully crafted and the service staff were transferred from various Starbucks locations all over the world, so world-class service is not an overstatement.
Other highlights include browsing the Handpicked at the Roastery marketplace and chatting with the roasters at the Pairing Bar. Because I was quite keen on finding the rare Aged Sumatra blend for my friend Lucy (she tells me it’s Howard Schultz’s favorite blend), I chatted up a couple of the baristas at the Pairing Bar and they explained that every week, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle help determine the blends to roast and send to Shanghai. Good news, Aged Sumatra could be something they decide on. Bad news, it is… rare.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the Teavana experience bar as the team there was also extremely professional and friendly. I’m not an avid tea drinker so listening to their careful brewing process, which included a detailed explanation of what temperature of hot water I should ask for when inquiring about a refill, was fascinating.
All in all, I think it’s incredible the experience Starbucks was able to build in this Shanghai location. I’ve never visited the Seattle one and was told it’s quite different–would love to know about people’s experience there as well. It’s now on my list for 2018!