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Concept to Scout: Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room

To visitors, the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room looks and feels like an upscale java lovers’ theme park. Starbucks execs see the interactive coffee shop and restaurant, just blocks from the company’s original store at Seattle’s Pike Place Market, as “the next generation” of Starbucks.

At 15,000 square feet, the multilevel operation (opened in December) roasts premium beans, educates coffee fanatics and feeds enthusiasts with an expanded menu. The objective: selling the company’s small-lot Reserve coffees, both for in-store sipping (in $3 to $15 drinks) and retail (at $25 to $50 per pound, sold in 8-ounce bags). The Reserve line and Roastery  concept frame the brand’s goal to change consumer perceptions of its core product line, currently associated with mass production and consumption.

The Roastery is designed to be a social experience. There are multiple lounge and bar areas, a gift shop, a coffee library and a pizza restaurant created with acclaimed Seattle chef Tom Douglas. There’s also a shot of theatrics: The coffee-roasting equivalent of an open kitchen, it offers a view of the roasters in action and an everchanging mechanical “clacker” board displaying what’s currently being made. Guests can smell the coffee, hear machines in action and see beans traveling in pipes overhead. 

The operation aims to be as practical as it is alluring. The in-store roasting increases Starbucks’ ability to process limited-edition beans, expanding availability of the Reserve coffee line from 800 to 1,500 stores globally. And part of Starbucks’ five-year growth plan is store-format diversification, including “Reserve-only” stores. At least 100 of these stores, designed to highlight rare coffees, are planned, starting this year in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

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