Perking up amid the coffee crowd

Central Station | 7 Dec 2017

Starbucks opened its largest cafe in the world in Shanghai yesterday, betting big on a burgeoning coffee culture in a nation of tea drinkers.

The 2,700-square-meter, two-story outlet in a shopping district attracted a mass of customers, some waiting outside for more than an hour.

It is the second Starbucks Reserve Roastery - a large type of store featuring coffee, tea and coffee-infused beer with personalized barista service. The first opened in Starbucks' hometown of Seattle in 2014.

It already has more than 3,000 standard cafes in 136 cities in China, including over 600 in Shanghai - the largest number in any city in the world.

The store has a Willy Wonka feel, with a two-story cask holding tonnes of freshly roasted beans that are sent to the cafe's various bars via tubing along the ceiling while packaged beans wander on conveyor belts.

Zhao Fei, a paper trader, said prices running up to 78 yuan (HK$92) for a coffee would scare off many people. But sipping on a nitrogen-infused fruit tea, he added: "It looks so wonderful. Many people will come just to look."

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