I need my coffee fix every morning, and Starbucks has always been my go-to cafe. So when I heard that the company opened the biggest Starbucks in the world in Shanghai last December (2017); I made it a point to visit during my recent trip to the city. I thought it’d be fun to experience its theme park-like atmosphere — and I’ve also never been to a roastery before.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Shanghai’s Starbucks Reserve Roastery is big. Really really big — 30,000 square feet of big. I didn’t expect it to look quite so stunning, especially with the eye-catching gigantic bronze cast in the center of the roastery. It has 3 coffee bars (the main bar, a bar with coffee and food, and a bar for their cold brew), a Teavana tea bar (because it’s China and tea is king), tasting rooms, a coffee library, an area for specialized Starbucks souvenirs and coffee-making items, as well as the Princi Bakery.
As for the roastery, it is set right in the middle of the building, centered by that gorgeous bronze cast with Chinese writing. Visitors could sit by the bar top facing the roastery (or get an aerial view on the second floor), and watch the entire process — from the beans going through tubes that run all over the walls and ceiling, being churned in the silos, roasted in the roasting cask; and when done, deposited into the coffee bar cannisters, or packaged into bags and brought along the conveyor belts.
I read that there is an augmented reality experience designed by the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba — where you can get on-the-go information on the whole coffee roasting process, menus and coffee information by just a click of a button on the app. Didn’t get to download it, so I don’t know exactly how that works.
My Starbucks Experience
My friends and I arrived at the roastery in the late afternoon, and it wasn’t as packed as I expected — but then again, it has been 4 months since it opened (during our visit). Still, the crowd was relatively big enough that we had to wait around for a table. I really didn’t know where to start exploring (the place is just so huge), so I decided to head to the nearest coffee bar. The bar had a whole selection of delicious food laid out in front of it, and I couldn’t help myself and ordered a slice of parma ham pizza; as well as some alcoholic coffee — the Bund Mist and Espresso Cloud (with beer)! Food and drinks at this Starbucks ain’t cheap, a cuppa coffee costs about CNY60-80 (US$10-12).
We ended up chilling for about 2 hours in the roastery, enjoying our coffee while watching the coffee roasting process again and again… and then spending a fortune at the retail shop. I bought a couple of trinkets; as well as some freshly roasted beans — I went with the beans bagged on the spot instead of the prepackaged ones.
Overall, I enjoyed my visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Though everything was a little too pricey, I still had a pretty educational experience with lots of things to see and do. Would I come back?… well, probably not. There are (cheaper) Starbucks around almost every corner in Shanghai! But it was still crowded when we left the roastery come night, so I guess no matter what the price, we’ll always need our coffee.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai
Address: 789 West Nanjing Rd, Unit 110+201
Jing’an District, Shanghai.
Opening Times: Monday – Sunday (7:00am-11:00pm)