Why Starbucks Is Doubling Down on Fancy Coffee

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No doubt Starbucks will keep wringing Pumpkin Spice Lattes for all they’re worth, but expect the coffee giant’s future to be a lot more single-origin-y: CEO Howard Schultz says today that they’ve decided to double the number of fancier Reserve cafés planned for 2017 basically in an effort to be taken more seriously. Instead of 500, there will now be 1,000 of the chain’s over-the-top Reserve “bars” that serve the “rarest coffees” by the end of next year. Schultz has been fixated on these upscale cafés since at least 2014, but apparently he’s really seen the line in the sand as the chain continues to lose customers to Blue Bottle, Stumptown, and the raft of even-better third-wave indie shops out there.

Starbucks tells Reuters a few of these stores are already open in New York. The idea is for them to serve the pricier Reserve-brand coffees, wow customers with siphons and other “cool” brewing methods, and serve artisanal pastries made by Princi, an Italian bakery the company bought this summer. They’ll essentially be smaller versions of the Reserve Roasteries the company is also rolling out in “hip urban areas.” The first one of these opened in Seattle in 2014, and is a 15,000-square-foot behemoth that Reuters says Schultz sometimes calls a “magical coffee ride.” You can pay $50 for 8 ounces of beans here, order from baristas in custom aprons, and think for a minute that you maybe walked into a trendy third-wave café by mistake. The second of these roasteries is expected to open in Shanghai next year, and then New York’s and Tokyo’s will follow in 2018.

Why Starbucks Is Doubling Down on Fancy Coffee