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Starbucks' Star Turn With Reserve Roastery

Just one of the more unusual merchandise offerings at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in NYC.

The sixth Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened in the Midwest in November 2019. No, not in the Twin Cities, alas, but in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. The coffee shop of the future, a sort of shrine to coffee, joins the elite ranks of stores in Seattle, Shanghai, New York City, Milan and Tokyo.

The Chicago version spans five floors and 35,000 square feet, making it the biggest of the stores to date. While each store takes on the charm of its host city, they all have the same WOW factor. During the holidays I visited the roastery in New York, which is now a year old. Located in the Meatpacking District, its neighbors are the equally classy Chelsea Market and Whitney Art Museum.

Stepping inside is like visiting a grown-up Willy Wonka with a coffee fetish. There are giant copper and matte black roasters, which are as much decorative as functional, and the first Arriviamo Bar in the U.S., which serves cocktails and “spirit-frees” featuring coffee and tea. The drinks were curated by award-winning mixologist Julia Momose. That space is upstairs in a third-level loft in the open-floor plan, where both the top and lower levels are visible from the first floor.

The main level showcases both a large retail section, a main coffee bar, an experience bar and a scooping bar, all of which are interactive to the degree they can be with a line behind you. This isdesigned to be a sensory experience as well as educational and, let's not forget we're selling coffee here. 

The retail section was specialty store size, but since I was there around gift-giving time, I probably witnessed more people than usual eagerly scooping up mugs and branded merchandise into their shopping baskets at a fast clip.

The food counters were more curated and filled with better looking options than the average Starbucks, with baked items from the Italian boutique bakery, Princi.

If this is the future of Starbucks, I'd say Minneapolis is ready for it. 

The second-level bar in the NYC Roastery.
The magnificent roasters.
Preparing coffee for the masses.


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