Shanghai Opens World's Largest Starbucks (For Now)

Starbucks

Starbucks

With more than 600 Starbucks stores already in Shanghai, there's hardly a shortage of options to get your grande latte fix in China's biggest city.

CNN calls it a "caffeine-fueled Disneyland" and dubbed it the "first fully immersive coffee wonderland in China".

The experience also extends to Alibaba's online marketplace, Tmall, allowing customers to purchase Shanghai Roastery and Reserve branded merchandise and whole bean coffee for delivery directly to their homes, or to register for specially-curated coffee tasting experiences that can be enjoyed at the Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai. Customers can roast these beans on the premise.

The store has a "Willy Wonka" feel, with a giant two-story cask holding tons of freshly roasted beans that are sent out to the cafe's various bars via tubing that snakes along the ceiling, while packaged beans wander around on conveyor belts.

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. Called the Starbucks Roastery Shanghai, the outlet measures an astounding 30,000 sq ft - that is nearly half of a football field.

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If you've ever wondered what "symphony pipes" are, then wonder no more. We wanted to take that customer experience even further. There will also be three bars where baristas would prepare coffee in a variety of ways. The handcrafted long bar, one of three on site, is aptly-named, as at 88 foot it's the world's longest coffee bar.

China has been crucial for Starbucks since SSSG (same-store sales growth) in China was 8% in fiscal 4Q17 compared to 2% in the rest of the world. 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 includes a digital menu and provides details of brewing techniques and various company offerings. Along the way, customers collect virtual badges and once they've earned all of them, they'll receive a custom Roastery social media filter to share.

Good news, the Seattle-based coffee company opened a 30,000-square-foot store to public in my hometown Shanghai today.

Chairman Howard Schultz told Bloomberg News on Tuesday ahead of the store's opening that China was on course to become the company's largest market in less than a decade.

With a new Starbucks store opening in China every 15 hours - setting the country well on the path to surpass the United States total number of stores within a decade - it's clear that those dreams are going to keep growing at an extraordinary rate.

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