On a hot sunny September day during a business trip with my Dad, we snuck out from the convention we were attending to visit the Shanghai Starbucks Reserve Roastery. To be fair, it was my Dad’s idea. He’s never been a coffee drinker, ever, but he seems to have gained this new obsession with Starbucks Roasteries ever since his visit to the Milan one. And so off to ‘Xing Ba Khe’ we went.
We took the metro to Nanjing West Road. The line with the nearest exit is Line 13 (Exit 3), but taking Line 2 or Line 12 is fine as well, depending on where you’re coming from. We actually took Line 2 and exited from Exit 2. Following the map, we walked the perimeter of the building with the GAP Store and the ICBC (Industrial & Commercial Bank of China), then crossed a plaza onto an intersection. You will immediately see the domed building of the Shanghai Starbucks Reserve Roastery.
While the distinction of the Shanghai Starbucks Reserve Roastery as the world’s biggest has been snatched by the one in Tokyo (at least for now), one cannot deny the massiveness of this place in any case. A two-story 30,000 square feet of space dedicated to coffee might seem a bit excessive to some, but as a coffee lover, I love how it’s a way of putting a spotlight on the glorious thing that is coffee. A commercial brand like Starbucks have the means, after all.
And as you can probably see, it doesn’t matter that this place is HUGE. It’s still pretty packed! The second floor isn’t as crowded as this, but on ground level is an impressive mix of locals and tourists. Also, I’ve never been to a more heavily guarded Starbucks in my entire life. There are security men in suits roaming around and reprimanding people for stuff like leaning on things while taking pictures (like in a museum!), apart from the two stationed by the main doors. I get it though. The place is BOUGIE AF.
And by that I mean the inside is as impressive as the outside. They even have unique coffee experiences you can try in here, like tastings and such.
I have a healthy skepticism for the overpricing of Starbucks products, but the prices of the items here at the Shanghai Starbucks Reserve Roastery were on another level of expensive! A simple notebook that costs as much as a bag of coffee beans?! I could only stomach looking haha! My Dad suddenly started collecting Starbucks Roastery paraphernalia when he visited the Milan store, so I was on guard to prevent him from going overboard this time. He ended up buying a nice, matte mug with a sketch of the Shanghai Roastery architecture.
I was initially considering buying some Yunnan coffee beans to try the local coffee, but it was WAAAAY too expensive. I ended up deciding to try my luck in the supermarket (FAIL), or other local coffee shops (had no time to visit), or just not try it at all if it came down to it lol. Not like the Philippines is short on our own local coffee after all.
We decided to head up to the second floor where Starbucks’ Teavana Collection was displayed in full force. There’s a lot less people here, and the bar area was practically empty, so that’s where my Dad and I sat after ordering our coffees. The staff are pretty all out in assisting you, which I really appreciate. BUT I’m not going to sugarcoat my feelings about the price of the drinks in here: IT’S EXPENSIVE.
There’s been some debate about the coffee quality of Starbucks versus their pricing for years now, but I’m going to put my faith in the pronouncements that their Reserve/Roastery stores use better quality beans.
To be clear, I’m not trying to be negative here. I enjoy Starbucks Coffee every once in a while, but my head can’t wrap around the idea of them alongside the more artisanal third wave coffee purveyors. Not even with this whole Reserve/Roastery concept. They’re still a commercial chain, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a choice to come in here, and today we made that choice.
One of my favorite things about this visit to the Shanghai Starbucks Roastery Reserve is getting to watch the baristas in action from the bar seats— Front row, up close. To me, having the ability to make coffee drinks expertly is pretty cool. These people definitely know what they’re doing.
Anyway, let’s talk about what we ordered while we were here. I don’t regret the choice of coffee I got, but now that I’m writing this, I wish I ordered a coffee cocktail instead for something unique.
My Dad got the Smoked Butterscotch Latte (52 RMB). I’m guessing the smoked butterscotch is a little less sweet than normal butterscotch? Meanwhile, I got the Rose Honey Latte (52 RMB), which is made with a special Reserve espresso and flavored with caramelized honey, rose water, and cinnamon. A layer of frothy steamed milk sits on top, with a sprinkling of cinnamon for good measure.
I loved this drink. The honey gave the drink just the slightest touch of sweetness, allowing me to enjoy the cinnamon and rose undertones that became more and more apparent the more I drank. This Rose Honey Latte is a bit like drinking something warm and familiar, but with a little something different underneath you can’t quite put your finger on. Is it worth almost 400 pesos though? Perhaps if it was just the drink, I would say no, but you are partly paying for the ambiance and the experience of drinking this coffee in this massive and beautiful location too. I suppose it adds up.
My Dad is often quite excited in the face of pastries, so we ended up with a hella expensive slice of Tiramisu (88 RMB) as per the recommendation of one of the staff members. The tiramisu was actually good, though I wouldn’t say it was anything to write poems about. Certainly a slice was not worth the price of a tub of mascarpone, but I admit it had a very good-tasting coffee liquor squishing out of the ladyfinger layers.
The Shanghai Starbucks Reserve Roastery is a must-visit for any Starbucks fan, but I think it’s a fun experience for any coffee fan as well. There are plenty of fascinating things to see, and the vibe is pretty awesome. Just expect that it’s the sort of place where you really have to be in a “TREAT YO SELF” mood.
I’m not really a big Starbucks fangirl but I quite enjoyed walking around this place and sitting by the bar with a more-than-decent cup of coffee in hand. I can see why lots of people are just here hanging out. I’m glad to get to experience being in the Shanghai Starbucks Reserve Roastery at least once, even if I had to close my eyes before handing them my money, if you know what I mean lol. If I were to come back, for sure, it’s for one of those coffee martini drinks.
Shanghai Starbucks Reserve Roastery 星巴克臻选上海烘焙工坊
789 West Nanjing Road, Unit 110 & 201 ,
Jingan District, Shanghai
Hours: 9AM to 11PM
Full disclosure: This post is NOT sponsored in any way. All opinions stated above are my own.