The World's Largest, Most Extravagant Starbucks Will Open Tomorrow

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China, a traditionally tea-drinking nation, is embracing coffee in the metropolis of Shanghai as the country stands to become the largest market for Starbucks.

It's also Starbucks' first store to utilize augmented reality technology: Customers can point their mobile phones at various items inside the store to access more information about their coffee and to unlock "virtual badges" to share on social media. Customers can book coffee tasting experiences on Alibaba's e-commerce site and also buy special Starbucks Reserve coffee and related products tied to the store's launch.

The location is actually only the second Starbucks Reserve Roastery in the world: the first opened three years ago in Seattle.

"Chinese consumers, especially the younger generation, are looking for things more quality-driven, more unique, that speaks to who they are", said Mr Jack Chuang, a Shanghai-based partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants who has studied the Chinese coffee market.

Starbucks chains are viewed as upmarket destinations in China, enabling the company to extract more profits from them.

In China, Starbucks' young baristas and shift supervisors receive a housing allowance subsidy, Wong said.

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The Shanghai location is just one of five Roasteries expected to open before 2020.

Starbucks is exploring "a range of options" for delivery, said Mr Johnson, who declined to specify when the service might begin.

Starbucks' Shanghai Roastery has three coffee experience bars, one of which is a whopping 88 feet long, the longest Starbucks coffee bar in the world. At more than twice the size of the original Reserve facility, the Shanghai roastery will be followed by additional Starbucks Reserve roasteries in New York, Chicago, Tokyo and Milan.

The bars allow customers to be up close and watch as their coffee is brewed. Starbucks, which says it is opening a store every 15 hours in China, plans to have 5,000 cafes on the mainland by 2021.

Inspired by the traditional clay teapots in China, the tea experience bar is a light jade color with dark shadows to represent tea stains formed in a teapot over time. The bar is made entirely out of 3-D printed recycled materials, the company said.

People gather in the new Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai, China.

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