Starbucks (SBUX) is upping its ambitions in China in a big way. The coffee company is opening its biggest location yet on Wednesday in Shanghai.
Opening three years after Starbucks’ flagship Roastery in Seattle, the 30,000 sq. ft. Shanghai Reserve Roastery is more coffee temple than cafe. Located on the popular West Nanjing Road, the Roastery will be “the first fully immersive coffee experience in Asia” according to a press release, combining coffee appreciation with a state-of-the-art augmented reality (AR) system.
The Roastery features three wood-carved bars, one of which is 88 feet long and the longest Starbucks coffee bar in the world. Customers can watch beans being roasted as baristas brew cups using six different methods and beans from 30 countries, Starbucks said. An integrated AR system, with a web-app built by Alibaba (BABA), will let customers explore the space with their smartphones. There’s also a 3D-printed Teavana tea bar serving nitrogen-infused drinks, as well as goods by Italian baker Rocco Princi.
Starbucks already has 3,000 outlets in China, including 600 in Shanghai alone, and the company believes its Chinese business could surpass its U.S. operations, where sales are slipping. In July, Starbucks paid $1.3 billion to have sole ownership over its Chinese assets, which include 1,300 restaurants in East China.