Hopefully you have your passport handy because you might be adding a new destination to your 2018 travel plans. The world's largest Starbucks just opened in Shanghai, China, and judging by the photos, it looks like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory — but for coffee lovers. You might have fantasized about taking a gondola ride down Wonka's chocolate river at least once in your life, and that, for the most part, will remain a fantasy. But, if you ever dreamed of a coffee theme park that included a 3D printed tea bars, you're in luck. The walls might not be tiled with coffee beans that you can drink straight from, but still, this is nothing short of a wonderland.
The Shanghai Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened for business on Dec. 5, and makes my local Starbucks store look like a cosy nook cafe. Based on the size of this coffee mansion, my local Starbucks could literally fit a few stores within it. The great news is with an abundance of square footage you don't have too long to find a good seat. Especially when you have three — three — coffee bars to play musical chairs at. Some could argue that Pumpkin Spice Latte is a religion. I mean, it does have quite the passionate following. You might want to embark on a pilgrimage because it seems as though this is where you'll find spiced, caffeinated enlightenment.
According to Starbucks' official Newsroom, this wonderland of coffee beans, teas and pastries is 30,000 square feet. That's over half an acre of seasonal lattes and in-house baked Italian bread by Princi. You could actually get lost in here, and maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing. There are lots of treasures to stumble upon.
There may not yet be an espresso tidal pool to surf in, but in the meantime, for our entertainment as well as educational purposes, there is a coffee theater. Because that is a thing now. And, honestly, I would be a regular theatre go-er if it involved the brewing, roasting, and serving of coffee beans across a bar.
There are three bars you can choose to sit at and one of them is 88 feet long, the longest in any Starbucks ever. The bars are not just typical bars, but purposely reminiscent of "the unique roasting curve of individual coffee beans," says Liz Muller, senior vice president of creative global design. What's more is that the bars are fashioned as stages where visitors and coffee lovers will get to view professional baristas handcraft coffee.
As you float around the store gawking at all the coffee performance art occurring behind the counter, you can also take yourself on a self guided tour. Like a museum. Except in a Starbucks. With access to Alibaba’s Taobao app or through the Roastery digital-web app, coffee lovers will be able to immerse themselves in a digital caffeinated experience. A spokesperson for Starbucks says about the technology, "by simply pointing their mobile devices at key features around the Roastery to bring to life information about the Starbucks bean-to-cup story." All you have to do to learn about brewing methods or the bean itself is point your phone at it.
This is everything everyone loves about Starbucks, multiplied. From an expanded and tailored menu, to theater, to technology and a grand self guided tour, this is a real life amusement park that could have been imagined by Willy Wonka himself. But thankfully we don't have to roar through Starbucks' everywhere searching cups for golden tickets. The only ticket you will need to visit the largest Starbucks in the world is a plane ticket. So hopefully you have your Google Flights tab open at the same time you're reading this and were planning on taking a trip next year, anyways.