Starbucks Unveils Bold Vision for China Coffee Innovation Park

Construction begins on ‘next generation’ facility that raises the bar for manufacturing and supply chain sustainability, use of smart technologies and immersive visitor experience

Company increases project investment to US$150 million, reinforcing long term commitment to the market

Starbucks today marked the groundbreaking of its China Coffee Innovation Park (CIP), with the unveiling of a bold vision to set a premier model for China’s specialty coffee industry. When operational in summer 2022, the 80,000m2 CIP will feature one of the first sustainable roasting plants in Starbucks global network, smart supply chain operations enabled by state-of-the-art technologies, and an immersive Experience Center that will showcase sustainable practices across the ‘Bean to Cup’ coffee journey to all visitors. In addition, Starbucks also raised its total investment in the project to US$150 million.

“In designing the Coffee Innovation Park, we challenged ourselves to create a ‘next-generation’ facility that transcends notions of a manufacturing site for Starbucks. Our ambition is for the CIP to serve as a premier model that sets new standards in environmental sustainability, technological innovation, as well as partner (employee) and visitor experience,” said Belinda Wong, chairman and chief executive officer, Starbucks China. “We hope our efforts will also serve to inspire the industry, and members of the public, to each do our part towards realizing a greener future.”

First announced in March, the CIP is Starbucks largest manufacturing investment outside of the U.S. and its first in Asia.  Located in the city of Kunshan, an hour from Shanghai, it will source coffees from China and around the world directly from origin for processing, roasting, packaging and distribution, for the first time in China. The facility will serve as a key node in Starbucks global roasting network, further deepening Starbucks commitment to elevate specialty coffee in the Chinese market.  Currently, Starbucks operates six other roasting plants—one in Amsterdam to support European markets, and five in the U.S.

Starbucks Most Sustainable Manufacturing Facility

When completed, the CIP will be one of the most sustainable manufacturing facilities for Starbucks globally, designed based on guidelines from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards as well as China’s Three Star Green Building standards for carbon emissions, energy use and waste.

The energy-efficient roasting technology at the CIP will reduce carbon emissions by over 30 per cent compared to Starbucks conventional roasting technology. In addition, up to 30 per cent of expected energy consumption will be generated through renewable sources, including from over 20,000 square meters of solar panels (equivalent to the size of 16 Olympic-sized swimming pools) that will be installed onsite. The facility will also strive to achieve zero waste to landfill through a combination of on-site and off-site recycling.

Sustainability will be incorporated holistically into every aspect of the CIP’s design and construction, from the use of energy efficient lighting and heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems, to landscaping that requires minimal irrigation.

Smart Supply Chain Operations

The CIP will also feature cutting edge technologies that maximize manufacturing productivity. Smart manufacturing technologies will enable advanced data collection and analysis including predictive maintenance. Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will be embedded in devices throughout the CIP, to manage onsite vehicle traffic among other purposes. Meanwhile, the CIP’s Integrated Distribution Center will incorporate a fully-automated storage and retrieval system that is designed to take up four times less space compared to conventional storage systems.

Immersive ‘Bean-to-Cup’ Coffee Journey

The CIP will also stand out from conventional manufacturing facilities by featuring an Experience Journey that provides a seamless showcase of sustainable practices at every chapter of the ‘Bean-to-Cup’ coffee story. Site visitors will learn about sustainable manufacturing and supply chain up close, while other stages of coffee production such as sustainable farming practices will be brought to life vividly via virtual reality technologies. The Experience Journey will be open to the public, so that more people can learn about sustainability, and be inspired to do their part to support plant-positive industries and lead eco-friendlier lifestyles.

The CIP marks another step forward in Starbucks long term progress towards its bold aspiration to become a planet positive company that gives more than it takes from the planet. Last year, Starbucks eliminated plastic straws from all of its stores in the Chinese mainland, saving about 200 tons of plastic waste annually. In April, the company launched a new plant-based food and beverage menu, as part of its efforts to inspire Chinese customers to explore new lifestyles with the planet in mind.

The facility is also the latest of Starbucks investments in building the different pillars of the specialty coffee industry since entering the Chinese mainland market in 1999. Over the past two decades, Starbucks has created tens of thousands of job opportunities and trained qualified baristas and coffee professionals, while investing in cultivating the consumer market. The company has also been operating the Starbucks Yunnan Farmer Support Center since 2012, to provide open‐source agronomy resources to local coffee farmers. Starbucks now operate over 4,700 stores across more than 190 cities in the market, where a new Starbucks store opens every 15 hours.

Doing good together: How Starbucks is making communities stronger in Asia