Starbucks Reserve in NYC

Talk about your favorite cafes, local barista events, or plan your own get-together.

Postby michael » Jan 11, 2019, 10:53 am

theres a new starbucks reserve in the meatpacking district in nyc. its the biggest coffee shop ive ever seen, so many stations, too many to count, so many brewing methods and so much equipment. sandwiches, pizza, etc and alcohol at an upper level bar, in store roasting, a small fireplace by the door and so much seating.

definitely worth a trip just for the visuals and no, I didn't try the coffee, too late at night for me 8)

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Postby bluesman » Jan 13, 2019, 8:17 pm

michael wrote:theres a new starbucks reserve in the meatpacking district in nyc...definitely worth a trip just for the visuals

That it is! We visited the Seattle flagship several weeks ago and were blown away by the decor, the scope, and the crowd. Sadly, we were not blown away by the coffee.



Postby Carver » Jan 14, 2019, 8:08 am

Looks neat! Thanks for sharing, gonna visit NYC soon and will check this spot.

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Postby Peppersass » Jan 14, 2019, 1:49 pm

This is one of the new Roastery stores, which combine onsite roasting with a Reserve store.

My experience with Reserve store coffee has been similar. I visited the one off the Highline, not far from the meatpacking district. They had a complete vac pot setup, but no one knew how to use it. They had to resort to the Clover to brew the single-origin Ethiopian I ordered, and the barista they assigned set it wrong and the supervisor had to redo it for her. The taste was between "meh" and "yuk". I'm sure the beans were old and likely not roasted well. I couldn't finish it.

It's not clear that either the Roastery or Reserve concepts will survive. Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that Kevin Johnson, who recently replaced founder Howard Schultz as CEO, is "curbing" the deployment of 1,000 Reserve stores and up to 30 Roastery stores. The concepts were initiated by Schultz, along with acquisition of the Teavana tea store chain and wordwide rights to open Princi bakery stores outside Italy, in order to ignite new growth at Starbucks. They've since closed all 379 of the Teavana mall-based stores and have deployed only 3 Princi stores in the US. Johnson called Schultz's plan "aspirational", and that they would test a small number of Reserve and Roastery stores to determine if they can make money before deploying more. He characterized his approach as "more disciplined" and said, "I'm not Howard."

While there have been several high-profile acquisitions of small specialty chains by private equity investors who believe they can grow substantially, the jury is still out on whether the market is large enough to support one or more large specialty chains, and whether they can maintain specialty coffee quality standards on a large scale.

The marketing disconnect could be that most coffee drinkers aren't looking for anything better than what they can get at Starbucks, and almost certainly won't spend more to get it. If they don't spend more, I don't think these initiatives will succeed because Starbucks-like margins aren't going to support higher quality standards -- i.e., buying better greens, hiring/training roasters who know how to produce great roasts, hiring/training baristas who know how to extract a great cup, and doing all this with a distribution system that ensures the beans will be no more than 14 days past roast.

From what I've seen of Reserve stores and the photos in this thread of a Roastery store, it strikes me that there aren't enough highly-skilled baristas and roasters to fill the payrolls of 1,030 stores, not to mention the payrolls of the competing firms funded with private equity. Even if they establish first-rate and comprehensive training programs, I'm quite skeptical that high-quality specialty coffee, as we know it, can be marketed on a national or global scale.

That said, many believed that Howard Schultz couldn't elevate the coffee experience beyond office, diner and McDonalds brew, and he proved them wrong (albeit with coffee most of us won't drink.) But his success was based on guessing that coffee drinkers were ready to spend more for a better cup. I suspect the ceiling has been hit on that, at least for most of the coffee-drinking population.


Postby michael » Jan 14, 2019, 5:27 pm

I think that's the same store we visited, right by Chelsea market, so many clover machines 8)