This Starbucks is enormous in both size and selection!

While Starbucks cafes are generally cozy and comfortable everywhere, Asia boasts some pretty amazing locations. There’s the Kyoto shop, where the veranda overlooks a beautiful river; the Bali branch, whose air of old tradition keeps it almost hidden from view; and, of course, the “most beautiful Starbucks in the world”, in Toyama.

Now China has thrown their hat into the ring of awesome Starbucks locations with their newly opened Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai, which holds the title of “biggest Starbucks in the world”. Since it opened in December last year, its boasted air of luxury has been calling to us, so our Japanese-language correspondent Meg decided to finally go and see it for herself. What she saw far exceeded her expectations.

The shop is located on Nanjing Road, a busy shopping street in Shanghai filled with luxury brands, similar to the Ginza area of Tokyo. With a convenient location like that, it’s guaranteed to be a popular oasis for thirsty shoppers; so popular, apparently, that it’s common to wait in line for two hours or more just to get in. Luckily, on the day when Meg went, they were operating on a restricted admission system based on entrance time, so when she returned at her designated time, she was able to get in without lining up.

When she pushed open the massive wooden doors of the entrance, what she saw was so impressive that her first thought was, “This is a Starbucks?!” It was like nothing she’d ever seen before: a huge roasting machine, a windowed bakery, stylish counter seating, and even a well-stocked souvenir corner. With two floors and 2,800 square meters of floor space (about 30,000 feet), it was like a Starbucks theme park!

▼ This copper cask is two stories tall and is decorated with over 1,000 engraved wooden boards, which tell the history of Starbucks.

It was so big that Meg was not quite sure where to look, though naturally the billboard menu was the first thing to draw her eye. What surprised her was that there were no Frappucinos written on it at all! Since Starbucks is famous for its specialty cold dessert drinks, that was a shock. They did, of course, have coffee, which is freshly roasted for every cup, thanks to the in-store roasting machine. That’s something you don’t get from your ordinary Starbucks, and might make up for the lack of Frappucinos.

▼ The roaster

▼ They also sell tea, juice, and, yes, even alcohol, so even though they don’t sell Frappucinos, there were still over 100 drinks to choose from!

The selection of food at this Starbucks is incredible too. There’s an in-house bakery that supplies everything from sliced bread to pastries, including muffins and cakes too. They also sell a tantalizing selection of chocolates and nuts, which makes for a pretty big variety of food that you wouldn’t find at an ordinary Starbucks.

The bakery and food make up most of the first floor, but there are tables to sit at as well. However, while it’s a great place to wait and snatch up fresh-baked goods as they come out, it can get pretty crowded. You can enjoy your food and drink upstairs as well, so Meg ventured up to find a quieter place to sit before placing her order. To her surprise, the second floor was much less busy and there were plenty of free seats.

▼ Check out Meg’s video to get a real idea of the scope of the building.

After she saved herself a table, she went to place her order. The menu was so large that she spent a long time thinking about what to order, so a young barista came to help her find what she wanted. Starting with, “Do you prefer hot or cold drinks?” the barista guided her through a series of questions, eventually learning that she wanted a cold, caffeine-free, unsweetened drink.

To her surprise, he was able to make a recommendation from their 100-item menu based solely on those three things! Meg liked the idea of his suggested rose-hip based herb tea, so he brought her to the counter to place her order. Everything he said and did was with a smile, which Meg found very pleasant.

Later on, the same barista, who was passing by her table, asked her, “Did you like your rose hip tea?” She was really surprised that he remembered her when there were so many customers, so without thinking she said, “Even though it’s so busy here, you are all so attentive! How many employees do you have here?”

▼ Meg’s drink and lunch.

The answer? 300 regular employees! Meg wouldn’t have doubted that they were all nice. In fact, she was really impressed that, for such a luxurious and expensive atmosphere, and for such a large shop, the staff weren’t stuffy or rude at all. For example, before she ordered, she was looking at the bread when another barista courteously explained, “If you see anything you want, let us know! We’ll bring it for you even if it’s at another counter.”

Normally Meg would feel uncomfortable about being called out to so often, but there was no sense of being followed around by a persistent sales clerk, like at a clothing shop. Meg found it mysterious but pleasant that a store on such a huge scale would have such a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere.

With good food, luxurious decor, friendly and attentive staff, and a wide selection of souvenirs, Meg couldn’t help thinking over and over that it was like visiting a Starbucks theme park, even down to leaving the cafe. Apparently, since the Roastery is usually on restricted admission, leaving means you will have to wait in line to get back in again. But if you’re going to dip out quickly and come back in again, you can get a special wristband that will let you in easily! Even to the very last, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai was an interesting experience.

▼ Though the staff were really down-to-earth, the price tag for Meg’s meal matched with the luxurious feel of the Roastery. Her drink was about US$7.80 and her sandwich $6.05.

Supposedly there are plans to build a Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Tokyo after the fall, but who knows if it will be on as grand a scale as this. If you can’t wait, or if what you really want is to experience the world’s biggest Starbucks, Meg really recommends visiting the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai. Why not make it a stopover spot when you go to see the 81-foot Evangelion statue?

Cafe Information
Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai
Address: 789 West Nanjin Road, Unite 110+201, Jing’An District, Shanghai
Open: Mon-Sun 11a.m. – 9 p.m.

Images ©SoraNews24
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