Yep, it's here, folks: The biggest, grandest, most spectacular Starbucks on the planet, right down the road from where we live in Shanghai, on the corner of Nanjing and Shimen Roads. It caps off the recent opening of a grand new shopping mall called Taigu Hui 太古汇 which has been in the making for a few years now. Located above the fairly new subway station on Line 13, the mall and office complex opened up earlier this year. The new Starbucks R opened earlier this month.
Today, I took my daughter Hannah over there for a look-see. The line to get in took around 15-20 minutes. Once we were inside, we found ourselves surrounded by crowds of people from all over China waiting to order coffee or snacks.
There were roasters and baristas by the dozens, most of whom spoke passable English. There were several stations on two floors and coffee makers and machines, droppers, droopers, and drippers. It was a grand spectacle of coffee production.
The cheesecake looked delicious, so we ordered one, along with a marmalade croissant and a piece of mozzarella pizza. I had an espresso and Hannah got a malted milkshake. The bill came to a whopping 260 RMB. Well, we were paying for the spectacle after all.
All around you could see, hear, and smell the makings of great coffee. The swirling of the beans in the roasting and mixing vats to be then conveyed through tubes, Wonka-like, to their destinations inside bags. Crowds of people watched and took endless selfies with the magic beans, meitu-ed of course.
Chinese people have been loving coffee for a while now--there's a Starbucks on every corner in Shanghai, at least in the more gentrified neighborhoods.
This cafe is the equivalent of the flagship Apple Stores. It is designed to hook more people in China on coffee and on the Starbucks brand in particular. And no doubt it will succeed in doing so.