World's Biggest Starbucks: A New Place For Coffee

by Paul Schlossberg
Posted On: 2/20/2018

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Have you been to a Starbucks lately? Here’s one you might want to visit: Starbucks opened its newest Reserve Roastery in Shanghai, China. It’s just a bit bigger than that nearby Starbucks. The new store is 29,000 sq. ft. in size with a staff of 400 employees. This is the biggest Starbucks in the world. It’s the second Roastery. The first one is in Seattle.

Starbucks describes the new store(s) on its website this way: “The Starbucks Reserve Roasteries are immersive, theatrical shrines to coffee passion, where Master Roasters ply their craft to coax perfectly flavorful expression from each of our small-lot coffees. Simply put, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery offers an experience found nowhere else in the world.”

They are deploying Roastery stores and (smaller) bars. We visited a Roastery bar in Austin, TX, last week. It was a small store versus the huge Shanghai site. On the menu they say:

 “We invite you to explore a world of unique flavors.
Our selection of rare small-lot coffees will change throughout the year,
based on harvest schedules around the world.”

Following are descriptions of the coffee bean flavor characteristics and the different brewing methods. If you enjoy wine or craft beers, you might recognize similar words typically used to enhance and romance the tasting and drinking experience.

There were four unique coffee bean selections on the menu, including:  
1.    Guatemala Santa Isabel, with flavors of citrus, chocolate and honey.    
2.    Ethiopia Kayon Mountain Farm, sun-dried beans with flavors of lavender and meyer lemon.  
3.    Panama Carmen Estate, with flavors of floral, lemon and praline.    
4.    Tanzania Mount Meru, sun-dried beans with flavors of cherry, raspberry and chocolate.


There were seven different ways to brew an individual cup of hot or iced coffee, specifically (with the comments from the Starbucks menu for each method):  
1.    Clover Brewed: "A full-immersion brewing process paired with vacuum extraction to bring out the coffee’s flavor.”
2.    Pour-Over: “Allows subtle flavor notes to shine.”  
3.    Cold Brew: “A nuanced, smooth cup of coffee, perfect over ice.”
4.    Nitro Cold Brew: “Cold brew infused with nitrogen, brings out the coffee’s creamy, natural sweetness.”
5.    Coffee Press: "Retains the flavorful oils of the coffee, resulting in a rich and full-bodied cup."
6.    Chemex: “An elegant brewing method yielding a reliably balanced clean cup."
7.    Siphon: “This highly visual experience pairs full-immersion and vacuum filtration to create a nuanced cup.”   

It was, in my opinion, an engaging place. Even more than a typical Starbucks, the ambiance and mood said “good coffee can be had here.” People were seated at the coffee bar. You can see the menu board and other signage in the photos accompanying this post. There was a fire pit (maybe it was a fireplace) outside.

It will be difficult for operators in our industry to beat what Starbucks is doing with their Roastery strategy. We cannot easily match their sourcing capabilities to find rare small-lot beans. We depend on our suppliers to source the coffee we serve. Our locations are usually not suited to accommodate the seven different single-cup brewing methods.    

If there is a Roastery store or bar near you, make it a priority to get there. Taste-test the Reserve Coffees. Try a few of the single cup brewing options. On the menu you’ll find an Origin Flight option. You can order three different 8-fl. oz.  Reserve coffees made on the Clover Brewer. Think about that – flights of coffee. You can get wine flights at many restaurants. Brew pubs offer flights to allow you sample a few of their beers and ales.   

The competition is on the move. They are not sitting still. You cannot afford to be on the sidelines when it comes to your coffee sales. Our industry has experienced positive sales and profit trends with coffee and tea. The emerging trend to find rare small-lot coffee beans might be a threat to our beverage volume.

How can you improve your coffee program? What coffee service do you offer? Single cup; fresh ground; or other. You might not be aware of it, but there are coffee fanatics at your sites. Capture their attention by upgrading what you sell.

How can you source new and unique coffee? Put pressure on your coffee sources. Go out and find new and unique coffee suppliers. Deliver on the experience of coffee service. Explain where the beans are from and what the taster should expect in flavors and aromas.   

If you can grab their attention in the morning with that first cup of coffee, you might get them to come back during the day. Maybe they will buy snacks, food or other beverages. There is nothing like a satisfied customer to make repeat purchases. If they make repeat purchases, you will sell more stuff. That means increased sales and profits.

See if you can find ways to take your coffee business to a new place.


Paul Schlossberg is the president of D/FW Consulting, working with clients to merchandise and market products in impulse-intense selling environments, such as vending, onsite foodservice and convenience stores. Based in the Austin, TX area, he can be reached at or (972) 877-2972 or