What Is Starbucks Reserve? Discover What Makes It So Special


Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of BrewCoffeeHome.com. With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe. You can reach him at [email protected].

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Starbucks offers a premium coffee brand called Starbucks Reserve that provides coffee enthusiasts with an exclusive and memorable experience. Starbucks Reserve is only sold in specific Reserve stores, Reserve bars, and Reserve Roastery locations rather than regular Starbucks locations.

In this article, we’ll explore what Starbucks Reserve is, its brief history, and how it differs from ordinary Starbucks. We’ll also discuss some of the best Starbucks Reserve drinks sold at its exclusive locations and what makes them unique.

Key Takeaways

  • Starbucks Reserve is a premium line of coffee offered by Starbucks that features rare and exotic coffee beans from around the world. 
  • Starbucks Reserve stores offer a unique and interactive experience with knowledgeable baristas.
  • Starbucks Reserve has six roasteries around the world, located in Seattle, Shanghai, Milan, New York, Tokyo, and Chicago.

What Is Starbucks Reserve?

Starbucks Reserve is a line of high-end coffee products with exclusive coffee beans, first established in 2010. Since then, the brand has opened six Reserve Roasteries and several Reserve coffee bars worldwide; each created to give customers a premium coffee experience.

Customers can choose from various coffees at Starbucks Reserve, including Reserve coffees, rare coffees, and small-batch roasted coffees. Each coffee has a flavor profile, and professional baristas offer recommendations based on your preferences. 

Additionally, Starbucks Reserve locations also provide a bespoke and immersive coffee experience. The design and architecture of each store reflect the local culture and community. Customers can watch expert roasters and baristas make novel coffee drinks using cutting-edge methods and machinery. 


The coffee drinks and food menu continually change to reflect Starbucks Reserve’s commitment to exploration and creativity.

Comparing Starbucks Reserve and Regular Starbucks

While Starbucks Reserve and regular Starbucks offer coffee products, a few differences set them apart. 

We’ll explore these differences in the following subsections, including bean quality and brewing methods.

Bean Quality

Starbucks Reserve uses only the highest quality coffee beans available, specifically Arabica beans, which are considered superior to Robusta beans.

Arabica beans have a sweeter taste and lower acidity than Robusta beans, and they are grown at higher elevations, which provides a unique flavor profile. Starbucks Reserve sources its Arabica beans from all over the world and roasts them in small batches to preserve their flavor.

Starbucks Reserve also prioritizes the traceability of its coffee beans, which means that customers can learn about the origin and journey of each coffee they purchase. This transparency lets customers understand where their coffee comes from and how it was produced.


Small-Batch Roasting

Starbucks Reserve coffee is roasted in small batches to ensure that each batch is consistent and of the highest quality. Small-batch roasting involves roasting small quantities of coffee beans at a time, which allows for greater control over the roasting process [1]. 

Small-batch roasting is a labor-intensive process that requires more time and attention than large-batch roasting. However, the benefits of small-batch roasting are numerous, which is why Starbucks Reserve strongly emphasizes this technique.

By roasting small quantities of coffee beans, Starbucks Reserve can carefully monitor the temperature, airflow, and other variables to ensure that each batch of coffee is perfectly roasted. This level of control allows for a consistent flavor profile across all coffee products.

Small-batch roasting also helps preserve the coffee beans’ freshness and flavor. This freshness is vital for rare and exotic coffees, which can quickly lose flavor if not properly roasted and stored.

Brewing Methods

Starbucks Reserve offers a variety of brewing methods, including pour-over, Chemex, siphon, and clover brewing. These brewing methods provide a more customized coffee experience and a unique flavor profile. Regular Starbucks locations typically offer drip coffee and espresso-based drinks.


The pour-over method, for example, involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds in a filter. This method allows for greater control over the water temperature and flow rate, which can significantly impact the coffee’s flavor.

On the other hand, the Chemex brewing method uses a special glass vessel and a thick paper filter to produce a clean and smooth cup of coffee. On the other hand, the siphon brewing method, also known as vacuum brewing, uses a two-chambered glass vessel and a cloth filter to create a full-bodied and complex cup of coffee.

The Clover brewing method, exclusive to Starbucks Reserve locations, uses a proprietary machine to brew each cup of coffee to order. The machine controls the water temperature and brewing time to produce a consistent and high-quality cup of coffee.


Starbucks Reserve offers a rare and distinctive experience to all coffee lovers. The Reserve menu items include exclusive blends, single-origin coffees, and limited-edition roasts that aren’t available at regular Starbucks stores. 

The Reserve coffees are carefully selected and roasted in small batches to enhance their unique flavors and aromas, making them more expensive than regular Starbucks coffee.

The exclusivity of the Starbucks Reserve menu items and the limited availability of some blends make them more expensive than regular Starbucks coffee. Customers looking for a premium coffee experience are willing to pay higher prices for the unique and rare Reserve menu items.

Starbucks Reserve Roasteries

Starbucks Reserve Roasteries are unique, immersive coffee destinations that offer a range of specialty beverages and rare single-origin coffees worldwide. They also showcase the entire coffee-making process, from roasting to brewing.

Here are the different Starbucks Reserve Roasteries located across the globe.

Starbucks Reserve Roasteries Around The World Infographic
Starbucks Reserve Roasteries Around the World Infographic


The Seattle Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened in 2014 [2] and is the brand’s first roastery worldwide. It’s located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and has four floors of coffee experiences, including a coffee library, a 360-degree viewing platform, and a custom-built, curved Starbucks reserve bar.

The roastery features many brewing methods, including the “siphon bar,” which uses a complex vacuum process to brew coffee. It also offers a full-service bar that serves craft cocktails, local beer and wine, and a Princi bakery that features various artisanal bread and pastries. 


The Shanghai Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened in 2017 on Nanjing Road. It’s the largest Starbucks location in the world at 30,000 square feet, featuring three coffee bars and a Teavana bar. [3]

The roastery features a variety of unique design elements, like a 40-ton copper cask for storing freshly roasted coffee beans and a ceiling adorned with more than 10,000 handcrafted tiles inspired by the locking mechanism of an espresso shot on an espresso machine.

It’s also home to the world’s first Starbucks augmented reality (AR) experience, where customers can use their smartphones to explore the roastery and the coffee-making process. [4]

Tea drinks at Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai
Tea drinks at Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai

New York City

The New York City Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened in 2018 in the Meatpacking District. It spans 23,000 square feet with five floors of coffee experiences, including a 60-foot bar and an immersive coffee experience room.

The design of the roastery is inspired by the city’s industrial history, with features such as exposed pipes, steel beams, and a 10-foot copper cask used to brew coffee. It also features a rooftop terrace with views of the Hudson River and the surrounding neighborhood.


The Milan Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened in 2018 and is located in the historic Palazzo Delle Poste building. It features three floors of coffee experiences, including terrazzo flooring made of 68,000 handmade tiles and a barrel-aged coffee bar.

The roastery also houses a 22-foot bronze cask inspired by the same traditional Italian beer-making methods used to roast coffee.


The Chicago Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened in 2019 on Michigan Avenue. It has five floors of coffee experiences, including a split-flap display board and a Barrel-Aged Coffee Bar where customers can try coffee aged in whiskey barrels.

Its design is inspired by Chicago, with elements such as copper accents and a curved escalator reminiscent of the city’s iconic L trains.


The Tokyo Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened in 2019 in the Nakameguro neighborhood, featuring four floors of coffee experiences, including a Teavana bar with more than 30 different kinds of tea.

The design is inspired by Japanese craftsmanship, with wooden details and a stunning copper cask as the centerpiece. The cask is adorned with cherry blossoms in honor of the flowers in the Nakameguro neighborhood.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Tokyo

Best Starbucks Reserve Drinks

Indulge in a sensory experience with these exceptional Starbucks Reserve drinks, each crafted with premium ingredients and distinct flavors. 

Explore the following drinks to elevate your coffee experience.



This Italian dessert-inspired drink is made with a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of ice cream, offering the perfect balance of sweet and bitter flavors.

Hazelnut Bianco Latte

Crafted with rich and nutty Hazelnut syrup, this latte is topped with velvety Bianco sauce and offers a deliciously indulgent experience.

Dark Chocolate Mocha

This decadent coffee drink combines the richness of dark chocolate with espresso, topped with a frothy whipped cream.

Reserve Cold Brew

Smooth and refreshing, the Reserve Cold Brew is made with 20-hour steeped beans, served on ice, and perfect for a hot summer day.

Dirty Chai

Get a caffeine boost with this spicy blend of chai and espresso, made with your choice of milk and served hot or iced.

Espresso Macchiato

A classic Italian drink, the Espresso Macchiato features a dollop of steamed milk poured over a shot of espresso, providing a bold yet smooth taste.

How Starbucks Reserve Supports Sustainability 

Starbucks Reserve is committed to ethical sourcing and sustainability practices throughout the coffee industry. The company has implemented various initiatives and partnerships to support farmers and their communities and to ensure the long-term viability of the coffee supply chain.

One example of their commitment is the Starbucks Farmer Support Center, which provides resources and training to farmers to help them improve the quality and sustainability of their crops. 

In addition, Starbucks Reserve sources coffee beans directly from farmers, often paying premiums for high-quality beans that meet strict sustainability standards.

Starbucks Reserve also funds various social projects in coffee-growing regions worldwide, such as water and sanitation projects, healthcare initiatives, and educational programs. The company also supports reforestation efforts to combat deforestation in coffee-producing areas. 

These efforts help to ensure a sustainable supply chain and benefit the communities where coffee is grown.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about Starbucks Reserve.

Is Starbucks Reserve More Expensive Than Other Types of Starbucks?

Starbucks Reserve drinks are generally more expensive due to the high-quality, exotic coffee beans and the specialized brewing techniques used to make the drinks.

Does Starbucks Reserve Have Exclusive Food Items?

Yes, Starbucks Reserve locations often have exclusive food items that are made to complement the unique coffee drinks served. The foods typically include artisanal pastries, sandwiches, and desserts.

Are Starbucks Reserve Drinks Better Quality Than Standard Starbucks?

Starbucks Reserve’s coffee quality is generally considered higher than the standard because of the small-batch roasted, exotic coffee beans and the sustainable production techniques used.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Starbucks Reserve offers coffee enthusiasts a premium experience through its carefully curated menu, top-notch facilities, and commitment to ethical sourcing and sustainability. 

With exclusive and rare coffee blends, Starbucks Reserve Roasteries, and expertly crafted drinks, the brand continues to cater to the evolving tastes of its customers. Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or just want to try something new, Starbucks Reserve is a must-visit destination for anyone.


  • [1] Coffee Roast Guide – https://www.ncausa.org/about-coffee/coffee-roasts-guide
  • [2] Starbucks gets fancy with Reserve roastery, tasting room, coffees – https://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-dd-starbucks-reserve-roastery-tasting-room-20140904-story.html
  • [3] Starbucks Roastery Coming to Shanghai in 2017 – https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2016/first-starbucks-roastery-coming-to-shanghai/
  • [4] Through the looking glass: Starbucks’ first in-store augmented reality experience – https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2017/starbucks-first-in-store-augmented-reality-experience/

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Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of BrewCoffeeHome.com. With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe.