Starbucks to Open Biggest Cafe in the World in Shanghai

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Twice the size of the original Seattle Roastery, opening the Shanghai Roastery marks "a turning point for the corporation" Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz, who oversees the brand's worldwide growth including the vital market of China for the company where he was formerly CEO, told CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin on a tour this week.

Customers even receive virtual badges for each step, which can be shared on social media.

Trays of temptation sit everywhere, filled with Italian-style croissant called cornetti, breads studded with olives, tomatoes and fresh herbs and even a gourmet take on cinnamon rolls.

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Guests who don't download the Roastery app, but have a QR reader on their phone, can still enjoy the virtual experience by scanning QR codes around the location that unlock information. The coffee giant even partnered with another retail powerhouse, Alibaba Group, to create Starbucks' first augmented reality experience.

All of it is created to help customers further understand the story of coffee, from bean to cup, said Roastery Director of Customer Experience Echo Jiang, in the release.

Zhao Fei, a paper trader, said drink prices running up to 78 yuan ($11.80) for some coffees would scare off many Chinese customers. They can watch baristas hand craft beverages through brewing devices never seen and discover an animated hummingbird flying across a wall made of multi-paneled doors - each embedded with thousands of LED lights. The roaster also boasts of an 88-foot long coffee bar, which is the longest at any Starbucks site.

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"That time is nearer than you think", said Schultz at the opening of the Roastery in Shanghai, adding that technology will not replace the brand's "humanity" in dealing with customers. Instead, they can order from anywhere in the 30,000-square-foot building. "We didn't want people to have to queue". Some have had to wait an hour before being able to place an order.

When visiting the roastery, a menu will be available to customers through the app, or it will pop up if they point their phone at certain icons hanging above the bar, the release said. The customer can pay on the spot and be digitally notified when their order is ready, along with the location where they can pick it up. Customers can book coffee tasting experiences on Alibaba's e-commerce site as well as buy special Starbucks Reserve coffee and related products tied to the store's launch.

With a new Starbucks store opening in China every 15 hours - setting the country well on the path to surpass the U.S. total number of stores within a decade - it's clear that those dreams are going to keep growing at an extraordinary rate.

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