Starbucks’ plushest coffee shop yet serves up AR with its drinks

In keeping with its reputation as a place that likes to serve up cutting-edge tech with its coffee, Starbucks will offer its first-ever in-store augmented reality (AR) experience at its newest Roastery store when it opens on Wednesday, December 6.

You will, however, have to be in Shanghai to try it, though perhaps the coffee company will take it stateside before long.

Starbucks debuted its Roastery concept in its home city of Seattle three years ago to offer customers rare coffees from around the world in a lavish setting that’s strikingly different to its regular outlets. Tastings and talks are also available in a bid to further enthuse coffee fans.

The AR fun can be enjoyed by smartphone-owning coffee drinkers visiting Starbucks’ new Shanghai Roastery. It’s the company’s largest site to date, covering an astonishing 30,000 square feet (2,700 square meters) of space. That’s twice the size of the flagship Roastery in Seattle and the equivalent of 40 average NYC apartments, according to Starbucks.

Visitors can whip out their smartphone and point it at various spots throughout the store for “an insider’s digital look” at the brewing process, which includes the enormous copper roasting cask that takes center stage. Just aim your phone’s camera toward a point of interest, and the relevant text and graphics will show up as an overlay on your display, “bringing to life Starbucks’ bean-to-cup story.”

“Guided through the space by a custom-designed AR ‘tour-guide,’ customers can unlock virtual badges and a unique Roastery filter to commemorate their visit,” Starbucks said. Yes, it’s essentially all part of a clever marketing ploy to get visitors to explore the enormous location, spend more time there, and perhaps stumble upon the bakery, the  3D-printed tea bar, or “the longest coffee bar in the world,” each of which provides an excellent opportunity to spend a bit more money.

The coffee giant is clearly splashing plenty of cash on its new Roastery in China, which happens to be the company’s fastest growing market.

Back in the U.S., more Roastery stores are planned for New York and Chicago, where Starbucks will no doubt continue to showcase tech in an effort to make customer visits that little bit more convenient and engaging.

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