Virtual Coffee Talk

By Michelle M. Havich

Photos courtesy of Starbucks

At Starbucks’ newest Reserve Roastery, located in Shanghai, coffee lovers can get a full-on brand experience that hits all the senses, and a few that are out of the real world.
At 30,000 sq. ft., the Shanghai Reserve Roastery is the largest Starbucks location in the world, twice the size of its hometown flagship Roastery in Seattle. It features three coffee experience bars, including one that is 88 ft. long, making it the longest Starbucks coffee bar in the world. The bar was handcrafted by Chinese artisans and references the roasting curve of a coffee bean.

Another first for Starbucks: the Shanghai Roastery’s in-store augmented reality (AR) experience. Designed by Starbucks, and powered by Chinese giant Alibaba, it allows for a seamless integration of real-time, in-store and online customer experience. Customers can immerse themselves into the world of Starbucks by pointing their smartphones at key features around the Roastery to bring to life the brand’s “bean-to-cup” story.

A focal point of the Roastery is a two-story, 40-ton copper cask adorned with more than 1,000 Chinese “chops”—hand-engraved stamps that tell the story of Starbucks and its Reserve coffee. Shoppers can now aim their phone at the copper cask, and learn how the beans get transported there, complete with a video of what’s going on inside the cask. Guided through the space by a custom-designed AR “tour guide,” customers can unlock virtual badges. Once all of the badges are unlocked, they earn a custom Roastery photo filter to commemorate their visit—perfect for sharing that coffee selfie on social media.

We’ll drink a Venti Sumatra to that.


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