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Starbucks’ new Roastery is an Instagram-ready spectacle

Designed by architect Kengo Kuma and featuring wild new cocktails, Starbucks’s new Tokyo location is ready for its caffeinated close-up.

Last month, Starbucks opened its fifth Roastery–the company’s name for its supersized stores that roast their own beans–and it’s quite possibly its most beautiful location yet.

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This is Starbucks’s first Roastery built from the ground up. Its exterior was designed in collaboration with Japanese architect Kengo Kuma–renowned for his innovative use of materials like wood, and awe-inspiring spaces like a cathedral built from little more than glass and birch trees. He’s worked with Starbucks before, but the Tokyo Roastery is a much larger project.

[Photo: Kentaro Matsumoto]

The Roastery looks something like an inverted pagoda, organized by a strata of wood and glass. Set alongside the Meguro River, the views are optimized to frame the cherry trees that blossom over the water. The blossom theme continues indoors, as handcrafted flowers float around a 55-foot blush-tinted copper cask.

The interior design was led by Starbucks alum and chief design officer Liz Muller–who is herself responsible for Starbucks’s grand Roasteries, along with some of Starbucks’s more experimental stores including one built on a train.

[Photo: Matthew Glac]

The rest of the space follows the now-established Roastery aesthetic, as copper tubes funnel coffee beans in swirls across the ceiling like a Willy Wonka coffee factory. Visitors can watch two roasters–also copper-clad!–bake up beans right in front of their eyes. The idea of Roasteries is to create an experience unlike that of a standard location, with coffee that you can’t get anywhere else. As expensive as these mega buildings are to produce, Starbucks has confirmed in the past that Roasteries are not loss leaders–every location, including these larger stores, has to make a profit.

[Photo: Akiyoshi Yamamoto]

Of course, you don’t just come to a Roastery to see the coffee. Chances are you want something to drink, too. This location offers 60 unique beverages not found at any other Starbucks, including plenty of boozy concoctions–though you don’t need to imbibe to enjoy the mixology–featuring lots of fun, gimmicky experiences. The Pop’n Tea Sakura Jasmine tops Silver Needle Tea with a pink hibiscus and cherry flavored popsicle. You can eat the popsicle, or let it melt into your drink. The Golden Sky Black Tea Latte swaps out the popsicle for a hunk of turmeric cotton candy, which you can taste with chopsticks before plunking it into your drink.

And just in case you had any doubt about why Starbucks invests in these larger, more expensive locations, the company is already promoting the “9 beverages sure to be Instagrammed” at the Tokyo location on its social media platforms. So by all means, come to enjoy the architecture and the drinks. But Starbucks expects you to share.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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