Starbucks Opens Coffee Megastore in Shanghai, Complete with 3D Printed Tea Bar and Augmented Reality Experience

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There’s nothing like that first sip of coffee in the morning to give you a much-needed boost of energy…and in my opinion, there’s no better place to get that first sip than at Starbucks. Established in Seattle in 1971, Starbucks is committed to ethically sourcing and roasting the highest quality arabica coffee, and operates over 27,000 stores worldwide. China is its fastest growing market – the first Chinese location opened in 1999, and a new store in the country opens every 15 hours. The company has over 600 stores in Shanghai, and recently celebrated the grand opening of another one – the ambitious Starbucks Reserve Roastery, which offers the first fully immersive coffee experience in Asia, and I do mean experience.

Just like the first Starbucks Roastery in Seattle, customers to the Shanghai Roastery can look forward to an immersive, multi-sensory coffee break in an interactive environment.

Howard Schultz, Executive Chairman of Starbucks Coffee Company, said, “The affinity we have built with our partners (employees) and customers over the past 18 years in China is special and we knew we must bring the Reserve Roastery, our boldest, most premium store ever, to Shanghai, China’s bustling metropolitan hub and one of the world’s most dynamic retail destinations, as well as a gateway to customers from across Asia and the world. We’ve created a space that both recognizes and celebrates our 46-year history of coffee leadership and retail innovation with China’s rich, diverse culture.”

According to CNBC, Schultz actually stepped down from his position as Starbucks CEO in April to focus his attention on the Reserve Roasteries, which are meccas for coffee lovers. The company’s goal is for the Roasteries to become destinations for serious coffee drinkers, instead of just somewhere to stop while you’re out shopping.

The ceiling of the 30,000-square-foot Roastery is made up of 10,000 hexagon-shaped tiles, handmade with wood and inspired by an espresso shot locking on an espresso machine. An immense, two-story copper cask is covered with 1,000 traditional Chinese stamps that are hand-engraved and tell the story of Starbucks coffee. Small-lot Reserve coffee, sourced from China’s Yunnan Province and over 30 other countries, will be roasted in China for the first time by 80 trained roasters. Customers will get to watch the green coffee beans roast, then get sent through copper symphony pipes (named due to the musical sound the beans make on their way through) to silos at each of the three coffee bars, or to the in-house line to be packaged for distribution across China.

We’ve seen 3D printed coffee makers, coffee cups and other accessories, and even coffee makers turned into 3D printers, but the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai features the first 3D printed coffee bar I’ve ever seen.

It’s actually a tea bar – the first Starbucks Teavana Bar in China, which again brings us back to that word ‘experience.’ The Teavana Bar is a tribute to the country’s tea traditions and culture, and customers can enjoy a signature pure tea, or a blend, served iced or hot with the best tea ingredients the world has to offer. If you’re looking for a new brewing method, check out the Steampunk, which marries theatre and science by using steam to extract flavor from the tea leaves.

The 25-foot bar itself is a light jade color, with dark shadows representing tea stains that form in a teapot over time. It was inspired by China’s traditional clay teapots and 3D printed from recycled materials. The Roastery’s other coffee bars, which offer six different brewing methods, are made of wood, and call to mind the curve of individual roasting coffee beans, bringing to life the design vision of Liz Muller, senior vice president of creative global design for Starbucks.

In addition to the 3D printed tea bar, the Shanghai Roastery is the first Starbucks location to integrate what it calls a “real-time, in-store and online customer experience” with its augmented reality (AR) experience. The company enlisted the help of e-commerce giant Alibaba and its scene-recognition technology to set up a virtual tour guide, available through the Roastery’s custom-designed, digital web-app platform and Alibaba’s Taobao app. Customers can point their mobile devices at some of the key features around the Roastery to learn more about them.

[Image: CNBC]

The digital web-app platform also offers customers a digital menu, and uses intuitive AR technology to share details about the various brewing methods and different coffee bars. Customers can unlock virtual badges, and will receive a custom Roastery filter once they’ve earned all of them, which they can then share on social media. You can also purchase Shanghai Roastery and Reserve branded merchandise, and whole bean coffee for home delivery, through Alibaba’s online marketplace, Tmall.

The company has said it could open as many as 20 to 30 Roastery stores around the world, with locations in Milan and New York coming in 2018, and in Tokyo and Chicago in 2019.

Discuss this 3D printed tea bar and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below. 

[Images: Starbucks, unless otherwise noted]



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