It's coffee o'clock! Starbucks opens their largest cafe in Shanghai


As of now, China is the company's second-largest market in the world with 3,000 stores.

As if all this wasn't enough already, the store also has China's first Starbucks Teavana bar, which is made from 3D-printed recycled materials and serves nitrogen-infused tea. It's the first Starbucks Reserve Roastery - the company's new retail offering - outside the U.S. It's also the largest Starbucks in the world, almost twice as large as the Roastery in Seattle that opened three years ago.

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

Twice the size of the original Seattle Roastery, opening the Shanghai Roastery marks "a turning point for the corporation" Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz, who oversees the brand's global growth including the vital market of China for the company where he was formerly CEO, told CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin on a tour this week. 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 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.

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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.

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. The Roastery's digital experience is designed by Starbucks and powered by Alibaba Group's scene-recognition technology. "It's coffee as theater", Jiang said. "Our commitment, together with our Roastery opening, epitomizes how Starbucks is doubling-down on the unprecedented opportunities we see in the future for Starbucks and China".

Roaming baristas on the floor can help customers create and place an order; they can pay on the spot and be digitally notified when their order is ready, along with the location where they can pick it up. And on a pure design level, Shanghai Roastery is a wow. "With AR, we are able to go beyond educating, enabling and engaging, to empowering our customers to experience the space on their own terms", said Chang. After earning them all, they can receive a custom Roastery social media filter to share online.

Located in Shanghai's Nanjing Road, the new outlet has been aptly named Shanghai Reserve Roastery Shanghai and is twice as big as the only other Reserve Roastery in Seattle and has been described as the "first fully-immersive coffee wonderland in China".