Watch CBS News

Starbucks opens the "Willy Wonka" of coffee roasteries

Starbucks started with one store in Seattle, and spread around the world. Now its CEO, Howard Schultz, is ready to expand the way you think of his stores and gave "CBS This Morning" a first look.

The 15,000-square-foot shop is a showplace as much as a café -- a theater where the star of the show comes in a cup, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.

Customers at their new location will watch as green coffee beans spill out of burlap bags until that moment of perfection when they pour from the roaster.

The man behind one of the world's most popular coffee brands wants to amaze those who enter.

"When we started thinking about this facility and what we were gonna build, somehow, I found myself writing about 'Willy Wonka' and what I wanted to do was create magic and fun," Schultz said.

That "Willy Wonka" inspiration is seen in pipes carrying coffee beans around the shop, until they pour into urns at the serving bar. This coffee is brewed in no less than seven different ways. Alongside the familiar filters, presses and espresso makers, customers can choose coffee from a machine called a clover to a device known as a siphon.

"You put hot water in here, it heats up under this halogen lamp," Starbucks' barista Ryan McDonnell said.

Schultz said the company brought its most knowledgeable baristas from around the world to work in the new store. McDonnell, from Boston, explained how to brew the perfect cup alongside Schultz.

"You're just gonna gently prod and push. And not super-aggressive. You don't wanna boss it around but just kinda introduce this coffee to the water a little," McDonell said.

"It's very delicate," Schultz added. "You want to honor the coffee."

McDonnell attributed this delicate process to the complexity of coffee.

"Compared to wine, wine is about 150 to 200 different aromatic compounds that contribute to flavor," he said. "Coffee has about 800 to 1,000. So if we're measuring, you know, it's four to five times as complex as wine, which is crazy."

The new store will roast and serve only the highest quality beans from selected farms sold under the brand name "Starbucks Reserve".

"The sign on the building is not Starbucks," Schultz said. "It's a star and an 'R,' which represents the rarest of coffees that we're roasting in this facility."

This emphasis on quality and a variety of brewing methods comes as artisan roasters like Oakland's Blue Bottle and Portland's Stumptown have been promising coffee lovers a more individual experience than they'd get at Starbucks. These are the types of competitors Schultz takes seriously.

"Well, let's talk about that. I think it's very good for the industry to see these independents succeed, but I'm here to tell you that when we open this facility, Starbucks will have no peer in terms of the quality of coffee that we're sourcing and roasting," Schultz said.

And he's not discouraged by criticism calling out their loss of quality after entering the mass market.

"Well, I think that goes with the territory," he said. "We are pushing harder than ever for reinvention and self-renewal and this facility speaks for itself."

Part of that self-renewal includes a higher price for better-brewed coffee at the Seattle location.

"It will cost you a little bit more," he said. "But I think customers will expect that, given the experience and the fact that the coffee in this environment is like no other in the world."

A cup of Starbucks Reserve coffee here can cost up to $6.50.

For now, the new location is a one-of-a-kind shop, but Schultz said another could open in Asia in 2016, and more could follow if this concept is successful in Seattle.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.