Want to feel excited about coffee again? That’s how you’ll feel walking into the caffeinated theme park that is the Starbucks Reserve Roastery NYC, opening Dec. 14 at 61 Ninth Ave. in the Meatpacking District.
Described as “both workshop and stage,” the Roastery is Starbucks’ most decisive step yet from what coffee has become — a to-go commodity loaded with sugary syrups — back to experiencing its natural flavors through careful brewing methods, while sitting on something nicer than a subway bench.
How the Starbucks Reserve Roastery NYC reconnects you with your cup of coffee
Grand, gorgeous and interactive at every step, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery NYC spans 23,000 square feet, with three bars offering distinct coffee experiences: the traditional Main Bar, cocktails upstairs at the Arriviamo Bar, and the downstairs Experience Bar.
Because it’s still a Starbucks, the Main Bar can get you a drink fast, with the important addition of a case full of lush Italian pastries and sandwiches courtesy of bakery partner Princi. But that’s not what the Starbucks Reserve Roastery NYC is designed for.
You’d be better served taking a seat in front of barista Steph Vashall and her line of Siphon coffee makers invented in the 1830s — just one of seven ways she can brew your cup, cheerfully chatting through the process. “We make coffee, but what we really want is to connect with people,” she explains. You can “start a tab” with her, or any barista in the roastery.
Watching the coffee magic happen
While you’re sipping, walk around and admire all the steampunk-looking silos storing 10 varieties of Starbucks Reserve blends at any time, and don’t miss the 3-D copper wall art of the brand’s siren logo. The vibe is more like a wine bar than a cafe, designed in a way that feels both opulent like a grand European coffee house and also Brooklyn industrial: Baristas wear heavy duty aprons as if they were soldering the coffee rather than brewing it, and flat caps out of the 1920s.
At the heart of the shop is a giant gleaming Cask, part of the factory machinery on view so visitors can see how green beans arrive in burlap bags, get sorted and roasted. Five minutes later, they’re available for purchase at the Scooping Bar. You can even speak to the roasters while they work — and maybe help convince even just one to go a little lighter on the beans?
There are already three other Starbucks Reserve Roastery locations in the world (Seattle, Shanghai and Milan), but New York does have something new. Take a seat at a cozy table under one of the light fixtures designed to look like an inverted coffee filter at the Experience Bar, where you can choose a specialty tarte or chocolate flight to be paired with the coffee of your choice.
Where every cocktail is made with coffee or tea
When happy hour comes around — or starting at 10 a.m., no judgement — head upstairs to the Arriviamo Bar, serving a selection of cocktails all containing coffee or tea created by mixologist Julia Momose. “Coffee is not the afterthought, but it’s not the only thought,” explains bartender Toby Medlyn. “Coffee is such a bold flavor, to incorporate it well is not an easy thing to do.”
And then he does it with a Brandy Corretto made with espresso, Black Dirt apple brandy, barrel-aged vanilla and an amaretto-infused whipped cream shaken fresh for every drink.
How the swag reflects the Starbucks Roastery NYC mission
Even the merchandise goes beyond what’s commonly on Starbucks shelves. You can buy one of those industrial aprons made by Hardmill in Seattle, and the shop has its own special mug, but there are also objets d’art like that tie into “the Starbucks ethos,” as marketing director Levke Haas puts it.
For example, Dutch design firm Marcel Wanders offers a collection focusing on time, which includes a Mad Hatter-inspired espresso tamper. “The tamping of coffee is what dictates the amount of time that it takes for water to pass through the coffee,” Haas explains. “A perfectly tamped espresso shot makes sure that it’s sweet and not bitter, that the flavors and the nuances of the coffee come through. I love the idea that this sort of helps control time and manage time within coffee.”
Back at the cocktail bar, Medlyn sieves matcha for another drink, then brulees tomatoes for a daiquiri. “You can’t rush this,” he observes, then turns philosophical.
“And that’s why people are asking, ‘Will the Starbucks Roastery concept work in New York, where everyone is rushing?’ I think it will. People want that personalized, hands-on experience and to really slow down and enjoy the moment.”