Starbucks Baristas Celebrate Coffee Artistry in China and Japan

Coffee is at the core of everything Starbucks does.

From sourcing and roasting to crafting and innovating, Starbucks partners (employees) are passionate about brewing and handcrafting the world’s best coffee beverages. Starbucks baristas in China and Japan recently celebrated coffee artistry through competitions in pour-over brewing and latte art.

The Starbucks coffee journey began in Asia nearly 20 years ago, with the company’s first store outside of North America opening in Tokyo in 1996, followed later in 1999 with the first store at the Beijing World Trade Centre. It started with the introduction of a cup of fresh-brewed coffee, followed by educating customers on the joy and indulgence of enjoying a handcrafted cup of espresso beverage, such as the Café Latte and Café Mocha.

Today, customers in Japan and China have even more ways to enjoy their favorite cup of Starbucks coffee – through pour-over brewing or latte art – at more than 1,000 stores and more than 1,600 stores in Japan and China, respectively.

Craftsmanship and Artistry in Each Cup of Starbucks Coffee

“Every cup of Starbucks coffee, whether it’s our fresh brew or an espresso beverage, starts with sourcing the finest coffees from around the world. By extending our offerings to include the pour-over and latte art, we are showcasing these quality ingredients in a full-flavored coffee beverage,” said Belinda Wong, president, Starbucks China.  “More significantly, the craftsmanship and artistry that goes into each cup of Starbucks pour-over or latte art is highlighted in an exceptional way. We are excited to share this experience with our customers in China.”  

Most recently, Starbucks wrapped up the final event of its Starbuck China Third Annual Latte Art Throwdown Tour and Second Annual Pour-Over Competition, which covered six cities, including Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Xian, Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. A total of 79 Starbucks China baristas competed in the competitions.

The idea of the tour and competitions began about three years ago as a way to build excitement and momentum around the launch of latte art as a standard offering in China.  Today, the tour and the competition leading up to these events has become a celebration of partners’ coffee artistry and genuine passion for coffee. 

“It was especially symbolic that while a group of our China partners were in Sumatra experiencing the ‘first 10 feet’ of the coffee bean journey, this competition was celebrating the work that our partners do every day to deliver the ‘last 10 feet’,” said Jeff Miller, vice president, retail and operations, Starbucks China. “I am certain that if the farmers could see how our baristas honor their work through the care they put into brewing these coffees, whether in a latte or a cup of pour-over, they would be as proud as we are.”

The top four winners from each Starbucks China region will travel later this year to Chengdu to attend the Starbucks China National Latte Art and Pour-Over competitions.  These events will coincide with the China Coffee Ambassador Cup, where the winner will be crowned Starbucks China Coffee Ambassador, representing the pinnacle of coffee expertise.

“As the leading coffee company in China, I am so excited to represent my North China region partners at this national competition. This is a dream come true for me and a firm demonstration of our dedication to only deliver the perfect Starbucks coffee beverage to our customers every time they visit our stores,” added Kevin Zhang from the Starbucks Beijing Kerry Center flagship store.

Coffee Has Become an Important Part of ‘the Japanese way of life’

In Japan, Starbucks partners also challenged each other and showcased their coffee passion and talent with the best baristas at the Starbucks Coffee Japan Annual Leadership Conference. As part of this gathering, Starbucks hosted the second "We Connect Cup” – a competition to demonstrate and highlight how Starbucks partners exercise the best services, operation, and connections with customers.

“Since the opening of our first store in Ginza, coffee has become such an important part of the Japanese way of life,” said Jun Sekine, ceo, Starbucks Coffee Japan. “Over the past 19 years, our baristas have been pulling perfect espresso beverages for our customers, sharing our passion for the world’s most premium Starbucks Reserve coffee, and building individual moments of connections with customers. We want to continue to elevate their coffee experience whenever they come to a Starbucks store.”

At the second We Connect Cup competition, Starbucks Coffee Japan partners from 13 regions pit their coffee skills and expertise in three categories – operational excellence, beverage routine and service basics.

“It’s by perfecting these three combinations that will make Starbucks world class customer service vision a reality in Japan,” added Masayo Mameta, partner at the Starbucks Fukuoka University Hospital store.

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Coffee and Connections at the Starbucks Origin Experience 2024 in Sumatra