Roastery, Reserve Bar, Regular Starbucks: What's the Difference?
Four distinct coffee experiences that all carry the Starbucks name
Starbucks may have made a name for itself with a variety of espresso and coffee beverages available behind its counters with nearly limitless customizations. But recently, your morning pick-me-up order isn’t the only choice the Seattle-based chain is giving you. The brand has been busy opening Reserve Roasteries across the country and around the world, launching a Reserve Store concept, dropping Reserve Bars into select locations, and, of course, opening up traditional Starbucks outlets (seemingly) just about everywhere.
Open Google Maps and search “Starbucks” and you could be directed to any of four distinct coffee experiences all bearing the Starbucks name. So below I combined my own experiences with definitions directly from the company for a little clarification on what each kind of Starbucks has to offer.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Large and in charge, the Reserve Roastery is at once a coffee shop and theme-park-like experience for tasting and observing the coffee roasting and brewing process where “customers can immerse themselves in the world of coffee on display,” according to Starbucks. Located in a few major cities around the globe already (and more to come), these tens-of-thousands-of-square-feet cathedrals offer bespoke beverages (caffeinated cocktails included, some “regular” Starbucks drinks not included), a plethora of preparation methods with personalized service, stylish swag, unique eats (including freshly made sweet and savory baked goods from Princi), locally-sourced artwork, and, as the name suggests, the aroma of green beans being roasted into rich, dark espresso.
But the Reserve Roasteries aren’t just eye candy—they serve the practical purpose of supplying regional Starbucks stores with fresh product. “Starbucks Reserve Roastery locations roast, package, and serve Starbucks Reserve Coffee on-site,” a Starbucks representative explained (Starbucks Reserve Coffee being the brand’s premium roast variety). “They also offer specialty espresso beverages and customers can learn about the science and theater behind the coffee.” Those theatrics include the Experience Bar where you can try half a dozen preparations from pour-over, to Clover-brewed, to siphon-brewed coffee, or a few different roasts at once with a tasting flight, all served up by chatty, knowledgeable baristas.
Basically, with their massive size and experiential form and function, you’ll know a Reserve Roastery the moment you step into one.
Starbucks Reserve Store
Scale down the extravagance and spectacle of coffee beans whizzing through tubes overhead at a Reserve Roastery and you’ll have some idea of what a Starbucks Reserve Store is all about. While only one standalone location exists (in Seattle below Starbucks headquarters), it’s both swankier and better built for nightlife than a regular Starbucks with a bar and marketplace-style layout. Expect the same kind of higher-end Starbucks beverages available at a Roastery or Reserve Bar (more on the latter below), as well as cocktails, beer, wine, and a menu of Princi offerings. As more Roasteries (and Princi locations) open and begin producing the coffee and bakery items, Starbucks hints that Reserve Stores will soon follow.
Starbucks Reserve Bar
You may already be visiting a Reserve Bar store and not even know it. Look for the star and “R” logo at your local Starbucks, along with some pour-over brewing equipment, premium Reserve Coffee beverages in skinnier black and clear cups, and baristas donning more casual hats and aprons than the traditional green wardrobe. Reserve Bars are supplied by Reserve Roasteries, meaning their menus consist of a few higher-end offerings and exclusive flavors. (For example, the Juniper Latte debuted at Reserve Bars a year before it hit regular Starbucks Stores this winter.)
Reserve Bar locations also offer the ability to sit down at the bar and have a version of the personalized Experience Bar, uh, experience described above. However, if your preferred Starbucks order consists of whatever brightly-colored Frappuccino is in season, you’re in luck: the entire regular Starbucks menu is available at these stores, too.
If I really need to explain a regular Starbucks to you, then… OK, sorry. No judgment, this is a safe space.
Starbucks stores offer handcrafted coffee and espresso beverages from hot lattes to cold blended Frappuccinos, all customizable to the customer’s heart’s content. Most offer a limited selection of pastries and other food, like chips, sandwiches, and snack boxes. Some have patios, some don’t. Some have seating, some don’t. Some have bathrooms, some don’t. Some serve everything Starbucks has to offer, some (like those operating inside a Target) are exemptions from that “participating locations” clause. Pay with cash, a card, or the Starbucks app. Order your drink in advance, or even have it delivered from some stores. It’s Starbucks. What more can I say?