Calling all coffee addicts! If Starbucks is your preferred method of caffeine ingestion, hop on a plane and head over to #Shanghai, where the world's biggest Starbucks just opened. Although I am not a coffee drinker, I knew I had to see the 29,000 square foot, two-story ode to java for myself. Living as an expat in this rapidly changing, vibrant city has been an adventure and visiting the Starbucks Reserve Roastery is just the latest chapter.
Since this bean palace only opened a few weeks ago, you can still count on waiting in a line to get inside. But once you enter those understated, wooden doors, get ready for a coffee-drinkers' paradise.
Upon entering, you receive a map (yes, a map) of the roastery, complete with "ten must visit experiences".
The roasting area dominates the first floor; inviting coffee-aficionados the chance to glimpse the roasting process. Pipes transport beans overhead, with explanations provided (in both Chinese and English).
Unlike traditional Starbucks locations, specialty drinks and experiences predominate. There are no takeaway cups here. Instead, you can sit at the pairing bar and "elevate your coffee experience and knowledge with guided conversation, tasting flights and chocolate pairings, as well as the exclusive craft beer." Grab a seat at the main bar and taste some bread and pastries from the on-site bakery.
After thoroughly exploring the first floor, we traveled up to level two of this slow roasted wonderland. If you have time, take a minute to peruse the coffee library, where you can learn about the history of Starbucks and about their small-lot reserve coffees.
While a cup o' joe isn't my cup of tea, tea is! And upstairs is where you will find Teavana---where they have mixed Teavana teas into tea-inspired cocktails. Andrew tried the Starbucks exclusive craft beer with an espresso shot and I thoroughly enjoyed a Teavana sangria.
Of course, anything that holds the title "the largest in the world" can't pass up the opportunity for exclusive merchandise---and Starbucks doesn't disappoint! It was very difficult to avoid making multiple purchases (despite the fact that I don't like coffee), but the thought of dragging more stuff back to America with us when we move home kept us in check.
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