By Craig Patterson
Seattle-based coffee concept Starbucks has expanded its Starbucks Reserve concept further into Canada this year with its first location in southern Ontario, and its third in Canada. The interactive, premium coffee concept is proving popular, and currently operates only a handful of locations globally.
Starbucks Reserve officially opened its first Toronto location over the weekend at CF Shops at Don Mills, spanning about 3,750 square feet on one level. As with other locations, if features rare, small-lot Starbucks Reserve® coffees roasted at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle. The new Toronto bar gives baristas a platform to engage in a dialogue with customers over a variety of brewing methods — all of its baristas are Coffee Masters or currently working on their designation, with their black aprons signifying the highest level of coffee education at Starbucks (a level reached when baristas have perfected their craft through coursework and the ‘exploration of coffee’).
Starbucks refers to its Reserve concept as being “a veritable theatre for some of the most exclusive coffees”. That “theatre” is on display even from the outside, where large windows draw customers into the new CF Shops at Don Mills space, which is about 2.5 times the size of a typical Starbucks location. The in-store bar features the Modbar (a first for Starbucks in Canada), a manual Black Eagle espresso machine, Clover® brewing system, Chemex® brewer, and Nitro Cold Brew taps.
(Below is an instagram post via finnspirit, showing the CF Shops at Don Mills facade)
“We know our customers are more curious about coffee than ever before and this new experience places coffee craft at the center of the conversation,” said Rossann Williams, president, Starbucks Canada. “We are thrilled to offer our customers an elevated and immersive experience where they can share in our partners’ (employees) passion and expertise,” she said.
The new CF Shops at Don Mills space features a rich walnut wood interior that creates a sense of warmth, punctuated by a large copper light installation that is cantilevered above the bar. Senior designer Erich Mele took inspiration for the design from the flagship Starbucks Reserve® Roastery in Seattle. “When you enter the space, the first thing you see is the Starbucks Reserve coffee bar. It’s a stage for the baristas to interact with coffee-loving customers,” he said, referencing the theatre aspect of the concept.
Design inspiration includes Don Mills itself, which began as a master-planned community designed in the 1950’s. Ms. Williams said, “we envision this store as the center of town, or the center of the community which is really what Starbucks is all about. It’s a place for people to collect ideas, share time and, of course, enjoy a delicious cup of small-lot coffee.”
The selection of coffees will change regularly throughout the year, according to Starbucks, based on harvest schedules around the world.
Canada’s first Starbucks Reserve opened in Ottawa’s ByWard Market (at 62 York Street) in late 2016, and a Vancouver location at 2980 Main Street followed in the spring of 2017.
CF Shops at Don Mills is a unique outdoor lifestyle centre that is owned and operated by Cadillac Fairview. Nick Iozzo, Director of Leasing at Cadillac Fairview/CF Shops at Don Mills said: "CF Shops at Don Mills has prided itself as a centre of first to market concepts: first Starbucks Reserve Bar and McEwan Grocery Market in Toronto, the first JOEY Restaurant and Lorna Jane Athletics store in Ontario, the first Anthropologie, Cineplex VIP Cinema and Salomon stores in Canada, to name a few.
All three Canadian locations are smaller than some of the larger international Starbucks Reserve locations. The Seattle location, which was also the first Starbucks reserve when it opened in December of 2014, spans about 15,000 square feet. In December of 2017, Starbucks opened its largest Reserve location to date in Shanghai, spanning an impressive 30,000 square feet. Next year, an even larger location will open in the former four-level Crate & Barrel space on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago — that location will be a whopping 43,000 square feet, or approximately an acre in size. Brokers are quietly saying that we could eventually see larger locations in Canada, though nothing has been formally confirmed to date.