Starbucks Picks New York as Site for Next High-End Roastery

SEATTLE (The Seattle Times/TNS) —

Starbucks has picked New York City’s Meatpacking District as the site of its second high-end coffee temple and roastery, a concept the retail giant pioneered in its hometown of Seattle as a way to reforge its credibility as purveyor of coffee that appeals to the most discerning customer.

The new Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room is expected to open in 2018. The move ends speculation that the second roastery would be built in Asia, Starbucks’ fastest-growing market and where, in places like Japan, there are plenty of connoisseurs willing to pay for a very expensive, very good cup of joe.

A Starbucks spokeswoman says Asia is still being looked at for a new roastery, as is another U.S. location.

Like its Seattle predecessor, which Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz once called the “Willy Wonka of coffee,” the New York facility will roast small-batch, ultra-high-quality coffee. Then the rare roasted beans will be sold on site, brewed by top-notch baristas, or shipped to other coffee shops around the world.

But at 20,000 square feet, about 5,000 square feet larger than the Seattle facility, the New York store will be “even bigger and bolder, celebrating coffee and craft in a unique and differentiated way. We want this experience to tell our customers that we’re coming to Broadway,” Schultz said in a statement.

Starbucks launched the original roastery as a way to up its game in the higher end of the coffee market against the encroachment of so-called “Third Wave” specialty coffee roasters like Stumptown and Blue Bottle. It also helped prove that brick-and-mortar retail still could be a destination at a time when shoppers increasingly flock online.

The roastery’s opening also coincided with Starbucks’ unveiling of ambitions to nearly double its revenue to $30 billion by 2019 — a goal the Seattle facility and others like it could help accomplish if their luster rubs across Starbucks’ global empire.

“I think the roastery is a metaphor for the whole company,” Schultz told investors at a Seattle gathering for a shareholder meeting in December 2014.

The New York version will be housed at 61 Ninth Ave., a nine-story office building designed by South American architect Rafael Vinoly, still under development.

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