Starbucks has opened a sprawling new artisan roasting and tasting room in its birthplace of Seattle, as part of a larger plan to develop a more premium coffee brand and mark a new chapter for the coffee giant.
After two years of designing and restoring a 100-year-old building in Seattle, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room opened its doors last week as the first of about 100 stores that will open throughout the US and Asia by 2016.
Starbucks describes the new concept — an interactive, immersive space dedicated to roasting and coffee education — as a Willy Wonka experience, or coffee theater.
“This Roastery is the fulfillment 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 Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in a statement.
“Everything we’ve ever done has led us to this point. This is the moment of the next generation of Starbucks.”
In addition to showing visitors how their coffee is sourced and roasted, the space will also produce the company’s brand of ‘micro-lot’ Reserve coffees.
In the first year, the company projects that 1.4 million pounds of small lot coffee will be roasted at the new Seattle Roastery to supply all the Reserve coffee for 1,500 stores around the world.
The Roastery, meanwhile, occupies 15,000 square feet (1,395 square meters) of a 100-year-old building in Seattle, and was designed to evoke artisan craftsmanship with details such as hand-stained wood finishes, leather handrails, overhead pipes for traveling coffee beans, wood beams and hammered copper.
The Starbucks Reserve line was formally launched in 2010 as a line of small-batch arabica coffee beans.
In 2011, the company opened its first international Reserve store in Tokyo, before expanding to 22 countries including China and Latin America.
Over the next five years, Starbucks plans to open 100 stores exclusively dedicated to selling its premium Reserve brand starting in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC in 2015. The first Roastery concept store is slated to open in Asia in 2016.