We had a look around Starbucks’ new high-tech London store

It has no queues and serves alcohol. What is happening?

After rolling out its mobile ordering service, Starbucks is making another move to distinguish itself from other coffee shops in Central London with its new store opening today. A move that makes it, well, not really just a coffee shop anymore. Starbucks is calling the new store a ‘coffee theatre.’ We know.

The new store, known as the Star Reserve bar, on Upper St Martin’s Lane near Covent Garden is the first of the chain’s European stores to be offering no less than five special brewing methods, and foods such as morning pastries, lunchtime salads, and evening sharing platters of cheese and meats, all prepared fresh in the store’s own micro kitchen.

I know it sounds like they’re leaving all sense of order and decency at the door, here, but there won’t be a standard queuing system in this new store. Instead, customers will be able to take a seat and order and pay from anywhere in the store on a handheld device held by a waiter.

Starbucks is clearly trying to appeal to customers who feel like they know their coffee a bit better than the average consumer, thank you very much, with five different brewing systems, including machines such as the Clover which appears to reverse the traditional French press technique by using a vacuum. There will also be Reserve coffees available in limited and small batches from farms across the world. This does mean that if you decide to opt for a slightly fancier coffee than usual, maybe brewed in something that looks alarmingly like a Bunsen burner, it could cost you up to £6, so you’d better savour every sip.

It’s not all about the coffee, though, as Starbucks’ new evening menu will be offering a selection of wines and craft beers, as well as sharing platters of foods such as meat and cheese from 4pm until 9pm. I can’t really imagine asking my friends if they want to meet me for a glass of wine in Starbucks, but who knows?

The new Starbucks store is also notably more technologically inclined. Not only will it be supporting the new mobile and pay system, the more open-plan decor features arty images projected onto the walls, rather than standard pictures; the unchanging wall-mounted menus have been swapped out for digital screens that will change from morning, to lunch, to evening as different fresh foods become available; powermat wireless charging is available across the store with support for all charging requirements from Apple to USB, as well as faster 100MB per second Wi-Fi.

The new store on Upper St Martin’s Lane opens today, and will be open seven days a week from 8am until 9pm.


Main Image via Starbucks