The world's biggest Starbucks is opening its doors in Shanghai, China

Jon Howard
December 6, 2017

Starbucks has opened a stunning location in China that is 300 times bigger than the average coffee shop. Now, almost 20 years later, China is Starbucks' fastest growing market, with a new store opening every 15 hours.

Starbucks has showcased its first overseas roastery and its world's largest store in Shanghai, as it expressed strong confidence in.

Starbucks is partnering with Alibaba Group, owner of the South China Morning Post, to create what it is calling its "immersive AR experience" for customers, run on Alibaba's Taobao shopping app, which allows, for instance, digital menus and ordering, insights into its brewing methods, and merchandising.

There are plans for a fancy Starbucks roastery to open in NY next year, but the company says it won't be quite as large. It's the second Starbucks' Roastery to open and is twice the size of its flagship location in Seattle. There's also pricey merch for sale, such as a wooly gray cap with a "Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai" patch ($55.80) and a $90 coffee press.

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But Starbucks, which entered China 18 years ago, still sees remarkably strong growth in China, where many consumers view it as an aspirational brand. This includes over 600 stores in Shanghai - the largest number of stores in any city where Starbucks has a presence.

The Roastery will also feature China's first Starbucks Teavana Bar, where customers can select a Teavana signature pure tea or blend, served either hot or iced. The company has already inked a deal for an enormous 43,000-square-foot Reserve Roastery in Chicago that's set to open in 2019. The location has gourmet drinks - like nitrogen-infused teas - and an 88-foot-long, hand-crafted coffee bar. In the third quarter ending October 1, China's comparable store sales grew 8 percent, compared to a 2 percent global growth and 2 percent growth in the USA market.

In Wu Qiong's small cafe in downtown Shanghai, coffee beans nestle in glass jars on the bar while various brews bubble away behind the counter. Across the street in an office building is a much more basic Starbucks, because there seems to be a Starbucks on every major street corner in town.

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