The Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo has opened its doors to four floors of sensory coffee immersion today. The first of its kind in Japan and the fifth internationally, the upscale roastery cafe and store encompasses a whopping 32,000 square feet (2,966 sq. meters), taking over from the Shanghai store as the biggest Starbucks in the world. Up until yesterday’s media preview the details of the new roastery were cloaked in PR secrecy — even the windows of the building were covered in tape — but from now we’ll all be able to appreciate the ubiquitous coffee chain’s version of an ultimate glow-up.
Built from the ground up, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo was designed by renowned Japanese starchitect Kengo Kuma – the man behind the main host stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Huge glass windows and terraced floors are meant to blend seamlessly with its riverside location in the hipster hub of Nakameguro, known for being home to a number of coiffed celebs and their hairdressers.
From the outside, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo looks like a futuristic cathedral where the caffeinated congregation can come together in worship of the sacred bean. Inside, too, is no less reverent. A Willy Wonka-esque system of pipes crisscrosses around the gigantic 17-meter-tall copper coffee cask that dominates the center of the roastery, while 2,100 hand-crafted copper cherry blossoms dangle from the ceiling in homage to the sakura trees that line the Meguro river just outside.
The Starbucks Reserve Roastery is supposed to be an immersive coffee journey, starting at the Main Bar on the first floor where customers can witness the art of roasting for themselves and sample original Reserve beverages like the Barrel-Aged Cold Brew. On this floor, you can also dive into buttery-good Italian offerings from Princi, Starbucks’ partner baker. Black clacker boards, like the ones you see in train stations, display the details of that day’s blend. There are also silos where the beans are stored next to the retail areas which stock exclusive merch including mugs, coffee cups, coffee grinders, stationery, and accessories.
Upstairs is the Teavana Bar which pays homage to the culture of Japanese tea, serving exclusive tea beverages and desserts. The airy open-plan layout at each level, with behind-the-scenes areas visible through glass, make the roastery feel simultaneously like a factory and a cozy home (of somebody very rich and into coffee).
This third floor is where things get exciting thanks to Starbucks Japan’s first cocktail bar, Arriviamo. Aside from wine, beer, and spirits, it’s the coffee and tea-inspired cocktails like the Nakameguro Espresso Martini that might mean you’ll end up accidentally getting drunk before work here. Plus, the wide terrace attached will no doubt be a fantastic place from which to admire the cherry blossoms from above instead of below — but still just as inebriated. The top floor, dubbed the AMU Inspiration Lounge, is the community space for locals to hold events that’s also slated to host barista training and other seminars for coffee professionals in the future.
Brewing, baking, and barista-ing are all done on the premises by a huge crew of impeccably dressed staff, well-versed in the language and culture of Starbucks and its coffee. Words like “coffee masters,” “bean craft” and “brew expression” were tossed about like dried cascara at the media preview, lending believable gravitas to the whole concept. Credit must go to Starbucks’ chief design officer Liz Muller who has pulled off something impressive by making the planet’s largest coffee chain — with more than 28,000 stores worldwide — look deliciously artisanal.
If it sounds cult-like, that’s because it most likely will be. The new roastery is perfect #coffeelover fodder for social media and the beautiful Tokyoites who will no doubt flock there with their AirPods and leather satchels. But there’s no denying that the Starbucks Reserve Roastery is probably a faultlessly lovely place to get a bit of work done, have a coffee with a friend, or even get drunk. Starbucks excels at delivering what their customer wants, and at this jumbo roastery, they’ve certainly delivered big.