NEW YORK – In the chilly minutes before sunrise Friday, customers bundled in coats and scarves smiled through the massive, glowing windows of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery New York. In a few moments, the doors would open for the first time, and they’d be enveloped by the warmth inside – freshly roasted coffee and baked goods, yes, but also hundreds of beaming employees who have spent months preparing for this moment.
Kevin Johnson, Starbucks chief executive officer, walked up and down the line greeting customers before doors opened. Once the Roastery was open, Johnson moved behind the coffee bar to make beverages. He recalled hearing the vision for Roasteries five years ago from Howard Schultz, chairman emeritus, and Liz Muller, chief design officer, as a place where customers could see firsthand how the world’s highest quality Arabica coffee is roasted and prepared, to learn more about its origins and how it’s roasted, “and to have an experience that’s second-to-none.”
“Here we are in New York City, and the aroma of coffee fills the air, and it is a magical place,” Johnson said. “It’s the ultimate experience for our customers.”
Here are some scenes and stories from the opening festivities at the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery New York.
Exterior of Reserve Roastery
The Starbucks Reserve Roastery New York opened its doors at 61 9th Ave. in the meatpacking district Friday morning. The 23,000-square-foot immersive coffee experience features freshly roasted coffee from around the world prepared in a wide variety of ways artisanal food from Milanese bakery Princi and the Arriviamo bar with a menu of coffee- and tea-infused craft cocktails.
Raul Adorno opening door
Raul Adorno, general manager, is joined by some of the Roastery’s 300 employees as he opens the door to greet customers Friday morning. Employees, called partners at Starbucks, have been training and preparing for months to welcome customers to the full-scale coffee, tea, artisanal food and cocktail extravaganza.
Basilia De La Cruz stands in the pre-dawn line of customers waiting to get into the new Roastery and waves at her daughter, Arlene De La Cruz, through the window. Inside the store her daughter, assistant general manager of the new Roastery, burst into tears when she saw her mother. “There’s been a lot of sacrifice to get to this moment. It’s been a year in the making,” said the younger De La Cruz, who was promoted to assistant general manager a year ago and relocated to Seattle for five months to train.
“My mother took care of my 16-year-old daughter while I was away. It was a tremendous gift that allowed me to succeed.” When De La Cruz learned Thursday she’d have the honor of helping to open the Roastery doors Friday morning, she called to tell her mother the good news. In the moments before the Roastery opened Friday morming, De La Cruz looked out the window and spotted her mother, who had gotten up before dawn to be there for the opening. She was the fifth person in line.
“Ay ay ay, I am so happy and so proud,” Basilia De La Cruz said, with her daughter translating. “It’s beautiful. It’s overwhelming to know my daughter has this kind of responsibility, but I know she can do it.”
KJ serves coffee
After mingling with the line of people waiting for the doors of the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery New York to open, ceo Kevin Johnson jumps behind the main bar to help serve some of the Roastery’s first customers. “The Roastery was imagined as the pinnacle of all Starbucks experiences,” Johnson said earlier in the week.
Roastery employees excitedly remove the window coverings late Thursday night to prepare for Friday morning’s grand opening. There’s a lot to see through the windows from the street outside, including the mercantile-style coffee scoop bar featuring freshly roasted beans from around the world customers can buy to take home and a view of the Princi bakery, where partners create artisanal bakery items, salads and desserts all day long.
A partner prepares coffee using the Roastery’s siphon method. There are two coffee bars at the Roastery offering a whopping seven coffee brewing methods, including siphon, pour over, Chemex®, coffee press, espresso, cold brewing and the Clover machine.
Sagi Evron and Siran Harari, visitors to New York City from Tel Aviv, Israel, check out the Roastery’s scoop bar offering 14 rotating, freshly roasted coffees from farms around the world. The two own a café and love coffee. They were excited to find out the Roastery opening was happening during their trip. “We said, ‘Oh, we have to go’ and planned this day. We woke up at 5:30. I’ve never waited in line for anything before,” Harari said. “It was so great to see how excited the people inside were. They’re working so hard. It was very uplifting. I had an espresso and we’ve been looking around at all the small details and taking pictures.”
Roaster empties green beans
Partner Lindsay Turberville empties green coffee beans from a burlap sack to begin their roasting journey. The Roastery offers a unique and transparent opportunity for coffee lovers to see each step of the journey green coffee beans make after they arrive from farms around the world to be roasted and served. The Roastery features the largest fully-operational coffee roasting plant on the island of Manhattan, which will roast more than 1.5 million pounds of coffee per year.
Tony Bennett and St. Vincent
Singer Tony Bennett, who made an appearance at a celebration on the eve of the Roastery’s grand opening, shares a special moment with Grammy-winning musician St. Vincent, the party’s surprise guest DJ. The event was the first time the two singers had met, and St. Vincent shared this photo on her Instagram account with the caption, “Legend.”
Execs and partners greet first customers
Starbucks executives and partners greet the first customers inside the Roastery doors Friday morning. “You will be amazed,” said Raul Adorno, general manager of the Roastery.
Roaster with cooling tray
A roaster supervises freshly roasted coffee beans as they cool. The roasting process at the New York Roastery includes a few nods to its home in the city’s historic meatpacking district. The bags of green coffee beans will make their way up from the cellar via hooks on a conveyer, where they will be cut open and the green beans will fall into a copper vessel and begin their journey to roasting. After being roasted, they spin in a cooling tray before making their way to be ground and prepared in any number of ways.
Opening day line
Customers wait for the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery New York to open. The New York Reserve Roastery is located in the heart of the meatpacking district, a vibrant neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan that was historically a hub of industry and manufacturing, including meatpacking. The district is now home to the Whitney Museum of American Art, a hopping restaurant scene, a number of high-end retailers and the popular High Line, a section of obsolete railroad tracks that were redeveloped as a park and walking trail in 2009.