Seattleites know coffee. In fact, we've been called coffee snobs.

What does Starbucks, a major coffee icon in a coffee town, do when a green mermaid logo has become synonymous to the McDonald's golden arches where you can expect convenience and consistency? In a town of coffee snobs – me included – you need more. To stay relevant, Starbucks has created a very high-end, state of the art prototype store. A prototype store is nothing new for Starbucks, but this store,  rumored to cost $20 million dollars, took it to a whole new level.

Main entrance queuing area.

Main entrance queuing area.

Welcome to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. In this store you will not find the mermaid logo, the same color palette or the same brand guidelines as you'll find in the other stores. Most people walking on the street would not assume it was a Starbucks unless they looked very closely.

So why do something like this?

Starbucks needs to remain innovative to stay competitive and relevant in a crowded marketplace. And they haven't forgotten to cater to consumers that demand more of an experience, rather than just a standard cup of joe.

Starbucks delivers an experience in this new store by literally roasting beans within feet of where the beans are then handcrafted with care and brewed. It's an experience where a cup of coffee means more than “a cup of coffee” -- it has become an event.

Many of the articles about the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room claim it is catering to high-end consumers. While I agree that the store itself is high-end, I believe it caters to those who demand more of an experience and are willing to pay for it. The cheapest cup of coffee is $3 and they sell beans which can cost up to $43 per pound. Still, the store is always busy.

Starbucks hopes to roll out 100 of these new stores around the world.  Will this store work in markets other than Seattle? Yes, I don’t think Seattleites are the only coffee snobs.

1 Comment