In Shanghai, we usually include a visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery for our guests. Nestled in this expansive 30,000-square-foot space lies more than just the Starbucks story; it’s a testament to the creation of an entire coffee category within a nation historically known for its tea culture. Despite being overtaken by Tokyo’s roastery in size, the Shanghai Starbucks Roastary’s significance remains unparalleled as it showcases how Starbucks has fueled the coffee consumption trend in China’s bustling urban centers where now over 25% of the population enjoys weekly doses of caffeine. Today, Shanghai stands proudly as the coffee capital of the world, boasting nearly 8,000 coffee shops—a staggering 3.16 coffee shops per 10,000 population, surpassing the likes of New York, London, and Tokyo.

China from the Field: Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai 02
Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai. (Photo credit: Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai)

With the growth of competition comes intense rivalry, and our guests get a firsthand taste of it. Exploring beyond the Starbucks realm, they immerse themselves in Shanghai’s diverse coffee landscape, where cozy indie cafes and bustling chains abound. Among these contenders stands Luckin Coffee, a homegrown brand that’s shaken the industry with its rapid expansion, surpassing Starbucks in both revenue and store count. Notably, Luckin’s call to fame is its innovative Moutai alcohol-infused latte, a bold fusion of Chinese liquor and coffee that has captured the imagination of coffee enthusiasts across the country. This exemplifies the ingenuity driving this category forward.

China from the Field: Luckin Coffee at Shudian Street
Luckin Coffee at Shudian Street (Photo credit: Windmemories)

China has surged ahead, surpassing the United States to become the world’s largest branded coffee shop market in terms of outlets. With high forecasted growth, fueled by increasing coffee consumption in this historically tea-drinking nation, the momentum shows no signs of slowing down. These immersive experiences offer our guests a snapshot of the dynamic evolution of China’s coffee culture and the captivating journeys of its key players.