Starbucks promises “Willy Wonka coffee experience” with launch of Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room

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Starbucks has announced the opening of its first Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood of Seattle, nine blocks away from its original store in Pike Place Market.

This interactive Roastery and Tasting Room is claimed to be dedicated to roasting, coffee education and increasing availability of the company’s small-lot Reserve coffees; literally every Reserve coffee bean sold to customers will be roasted in this facility.

Starbucks said the consolidation of small-batch roasting will allow the company to expand its Reserve coffee line to 1,500 locations globally, as well as open at least 100 stores designed to highlight these rare coffees exclusively starting in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. An additional Roastery is planned for Asia in 2016.

“This Roastery is the fulfilment of a decade-long dream – an homage to our relentless pursuit of coffee innovation that will create for our customers the most immersive, sensory demonstration of how we source, roast and craft the finest coffee from around the world,” said Howard Schultz, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks. “Everything we’ve ever done has led us to this point. This is the moment of the next generation of Starbucks.”

More than two years in development, Starbucks said this experience will allow customers to engage with its passion for coffee through moments of education and discovery devoted to beverage innovation and excellence. Every detail of the space was chosen with intention and reflects the handcrafted nature of coffee from bean to cup, Starbucks adds.

Some of the characteristics of this experience include:

  • The Roastery is 15,000sq ft with 6,654sq ft devoted to the Starbucks Café and Tasting Room designed to have 360 degree views from any vantage point within the space
  • The new facility will allow Starbucks to double the number of its Reserve offerings over the coming year. A projected 1.4m pounds of small lot coffee will be roasted in the first year at the Roastery, which will supply all of the Reserve coffee store needs around the world
  • The building dates back to 1920, which was originally part of the historic “Auto Row” of Seattle. Starbucks restored it back to its original façade working to reclaim many of the original building’s materials, including wood in the decorative ceiling and original Terrazzo and concrete flooring – 95% of the materials and finished pieces used for the Roastery are made in America
  • Coffees will be roasted on one of two roasters—the Probat G-120 Roaster and the Probat P25 Roaster. Freshly roasted beans will be delivered to a whole bean scooping table or a custom made bar where baristas will brew handcrafted beverages on one of six brewing methods including: Pour Over, Chemex, French Press, Siphon, Espresso and Clover-brewed coffee
  • Starbucks teamed up with acclaimed Seattle chef, Tom Douglas, to create unique food offerings inspired by Starbucks Reserve coffees which honour the pair’s collective roots in Pike Place Market. The food menu was created to complement the complex flavours of the coffees offered. Tom’s local approach to food will be showcased at the Roastery, whether it’s fresh out of the oven, seasonal pizzas from the Serious Pie restaurant inside the building, or the pastries, sandwiches, salads and sweets offered in the Roastery café
  • The Roastery integrates digital innovation into the experience including a “Clacker” board with mechanical flaps displaying what’s roasting and by whom; a Coffee Passion Projection Wall made of smart glass displaying images of coffee at origin on the company’s own farm in Costa Rica; and in the coming year, will debut iBeacon technology that allows customers to access information about freshly brewed coffee via their smart phone

“We have designed a space that will heighten all the senses. This is a real-life Willy Wonka experience with coffee as the heart and soul, where customers will see coffee being moved through the roasting process right before their eyes,” said Liz Muller, vice president, creative and global design for Starbucks.

“We have opened up the world of sourcing, roasting and brewing so that our customers at any one point are only feet away from the theatre and artistry in a sophisticated yet relaxed environment. Each visit will bring new discoveries while setting the standard for what customers can expect for the future of retail.”

Ten years ago, Starbucks first brought these premium coffees to customers with their line of Black Apron Exclusives.  Formally launched in 2010 as Starbucks Reserve, this collection of small-batch Arabica coffees became available in select stores and online – some of which have sold out in less than 24 hours. In 2011, Starbucks opened its first international Reserve store in Tokyo, Japan and has since expanded to 22 countries, including China. Recently, Starbucks opened its first ever Reserve location in Latin America as part of a three-level store serving 100% Colombian coffee.

In addition to expanding this in-store offering, the company said it will create a specialised store experience devoted to highlighting these rare, limited availability coffees in at least 100 locations in the next five years. The first stores will open in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.