Starbucks has opened its latest store in Covent Garden with an eye on connecting with a wide range of customers and impressing them with an open kitchen design.
“The store is a platform of connection,” said Ad de Hond, vice president of design at the chain. “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.”
One of the first things customers may notice at the new outlet 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 street. Inspired by the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, the London store aims to immerse customers in the world of coffee.
All baristas are certified coffee masters, who handcraft espresso beverages from a manual Black Eagle espresso machine.
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. “It 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.
By contrast, high tech interior features include wireless charging and communication through digital menu boards and wall projection.
The Upper St. Martin’s Lane store is the UK’s second Starbucks Evening location, serving a curated menu of wine and craft beer after 4pm.