London is no stranger to cool coffee shops, indeed many in the industry regard London as the most competitive market for coffee shops in the world. In places like Shoreditch it sometimes feels impossible to walk around for just half a block without encountering at least one or two independent cafes, often with their own unique blends and roasters. In this landscape Starbucks towers above the other chains with the best known brand but perhaps also a reputation for being slightly bland. This may about to be changed with the opening of the first Starbucks Reserve store in London's Upper St Martin's Lane, a stone's throw away from the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden.
The aim of the store is to showcase the super-premium, limited edition Starbucks Reserve range of coffees, which come from single estates and are known for their unique flavours. The store is designed to enhance the coffee-tasting experience for customers: the counter is replaced with an open bar, where customers can interact with the baristas as they prepare their brews, using specialist brewing methods such as Chemex and Siphon as well as a manual Black Eagle espresso machine. Gone are the cash registers and the queues to pay; instead customers are greeted by tablet-armed "hosts" who explain the brews on offer (which change on a regular basis) and take orders. The sense of openness is enhanced by the floor to ceiling glass windows which look onto the street and the use of industrial style fixtures. The overall effect is cool and sophisticated and also inviting at the same time. Do check it out before it gets too crowded!
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