Starbucks opens its biggest, most ambitious store yet

"The affinity we have built with our partners and customers over the past 18 years in China is special and we knew we must bring the Reserve Roastery, our boldest, most premium store ever, to Shanghai", said its founder and chairman, Howard Schultz. The ceiling, according to a news release, is made of "10,000 handmade wooden hexagon-shaped tiles, inspired by the locking of an espresso shot on an espresso machine".

Starbucks is going venti in China. At twice the size of the flagship roastery in Seattle, it's more a museum dedicated to java versus a stop to grab a morning pick-me-up.

Executive chairman Howard Schultz, speaking at the launch of Starbucks' first overseas "Reserve Roastery" - an opulent flagship store with gourmet coffees and a bakery - said China was on track to be "bigger, more powerful and more significant" than the firm's U.S. business.

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Starbucks debuted its upscale Roastery format three years ago, in its Seattle hometown. "We have over 600 stores in Shanghai", Schultz said. The ambitious storefront is being called the Shanghai Reserve Roastery and looks more like a resort than a cafe.

One of its three coffee bars is 88-feet long, the longest Starbucks bar in the world - because waiting in line is so 2016.

China is Starbucks' fastest growing market, with a store opening every 15 hours.

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The Seattle-based company is homing in on its fastest-growing market as it searches for ways to kick-start sluggish global sales after saturating the US with lattes and cappuccinos. Available on the custom-designed Roastery digital web app platform and Alibaba's Taobao app, the AR platform will incorporate a digital menu and share details of the coffee bars and brewing methods, in addition to other online and offline experiences.

Despite a long, proud history of tea drinking and the fact that a tall latte costs as much as $4.69 in China, people have taken to coffee and culture of Starbucks with its specialty drinks and free Wi-Fi and bathrooms. Same-store sales gained 8 percent in the country during the most recent quarter, compared with 2 percent globally.

The new Shanghai outpost is the chain's largest store yet with an on-site bakery, a 40-ton copper cask and an augmented-reality feature.

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