London’s bustling Covent Garden district has always been a place of connection and contrasts – where past meets present, design meets culture, and fashion meets entertainment. The new Starbucks store at Upper St. Martin’s Lane brings together these worlds, promoting interaction between Starbucks partners and customers.
“The store is a platform of connection,” said Ad de Hond, vice president of Design. “Everything in the store is visible – the way we make our coffees, the way we prepare and present our food, and the way we interact with our customers.”
Walk through the large double-doors of Starbucks Upper St. Martin's Lane, and one of the first things a customer may notice is that there is no queue at a cash register. Instead, they will be greeted by a host, who can invite customers to sit down and relax or quickly get coffee for take-away.
“The special thing is that we moved our partners from behind the bar into the store,” said de Hond. “Customers can order wherever and whenever they want through handheld devices. We hope to reduce the idea of standing in line.”
An open kitchen will offer a menu of freshly prepared food for breakfast, lunch and evenings. Floor-to-ceiling walls of glass visually link the interior to the happenings on the street outside.
Inspired by the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, the London store immerses customers in the world of coffee. All baristas are certified Coffee Masters, who handcraft espresso beverages from a manual Black Eagle espresso machine. The unique taste profiles from small-lot Starbucks Reserve coffees come to life with premium brewing methods such as pour-over, Siphon and Chemex. Upper St. Martin's Lane will also serve specialty beverages such as Shakerato, Sparkling Mint Espresso, and flights of coffee to allow customers to do side-by-side tastings of coffees from around the world.
“The coffee bar you see is rounded at the front near the glass and low. It’s a theatre for Starbucks Reserve coffee,” said de Hond. “The coffee bar can be seen from the outside, like a billboard inviting customers to come in.”
The store also takes design cues from Orion House Tower above, a 16-story postmodern high-rise of glass and steel that is home to Orion Publishing. The street-level space itself is kept raw, with natural materials rich in texture in comfortable mid-tones. Midcentury brass tones are reimagined as a custom decorative screen and accent finishes on the Reserve bar. High tech features include wireless charging and communication through digital menu boards and wall projections.
“It’s about juxtaposition,” said de Hond. “Rough meets smooth, raw meets refined.”
As day settles into night, the lights will come down to create a warm and intimate ambiance. The Upper St. Martin's Lane store is the UK’s second Starbucks® Evenings location, serving a curated menu of wine and craft beer after 4 p.m. In the evenings, the café will become a place to meet after work or have a small bite before going to the theatre.
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