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Will Starbucks' Fancy New Concept Lure In Coffee Connoisseurs?

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Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room opens in Seattle today.

The first of Starbucks' ritzy new coffee concepts, Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, has officially opened in Seattle. First announced in September, the shop is billed as a "one-of-a-kind" interactive store dedicated to "coffee education." The whole concept sounds incredibly over-the-top: It's 15,000 square feet, gives coffee drinkers the choice between six different brewing methods, and features a menu designed by a prominent chef. But is this all just an elaborate marketing ploy to convince the world that Starbucks knows the difference between good coffee (arguably, its origins) and sugared up, caffeinated drinks (clearly its bread and butter)?

USA Today notes that the massive space is best described "as a gathering spot for the well-to-do, where industrial age aesthetic meets information age reality." According to a press release, baristas will serve customers "small-batch Reserve coffees" — roasted in-house, of course — that have been brewed one of six ways: pour over, Chemex, espresso, siphon, Clover, and French press.

While the cheapest cup of coffee is $3, the most expensive cup — which features none of Starbucks' typical accoutrements like whipped cream and syrup drizzles — will set customers back $8. For three 12-ounce coffee samples at the "Coffee Experience Bar," expect to shell out $15.

The Seattle Roastery will also roast the range of upscale coffees for Starbucks stores around the globe. Starbucks projects that over the next year alone, 1.4 million pounds of Reserve small lot coffee will be roasted in the new space.

As for the food, don't expect the usual barrage of plastic-wrapped La Boulange pastries. Starbucks has teamed up with chef Tom Douglas to create the menu. This makes sense considering that the Roastery shares a space with a location of Douglas' Serious Pie. All dishes on the menu have apparently been "inspired by Starbucks Reserve coffees." This means customers can expect everything from sandwiches, pastries, salads, and sweets served inside the Roastery, to seasonal pizzas from Serious Pie. Perhaps chef-driven menus are how Starbucks plans to double food sales in the next year.

Starbucks has ambitious plans for its Reserve coffee-only concept: In 2015 alone, the chain plans to open 100 Reserve-only stores in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. There are also plans for a Roastery somewhere in Asia in 2016. So brace third-wave coffee drinkers, Starbucks is coming for you. Check out a video about the new Roastery below:

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