Starbucks’ Wan Chai cafe is the company’s first three-storey outlet in Hong Kong. Trading since last August, the new brand showcase store takes up the bottom three levels of East Asia Mansion on Hennessy Road, delivering what the company describes as a unique Starbucks experience that engages the public on their daily commute through the busy suburb. The external facade of the Starbucks Wan Chai cafe is boldly styled using black polycarbonate. “The black colour cuts through the no
noise and simplifies the outlook of the store, with polycarbonate adding a modern, transparent appearance,” explained a Starbucks spokesperson. “Using polycarbonate on the facade is a first for Starbucks in Hong Kong. It helps maintain the unique design language of the store, the window openings and form, while allowing commuters outside the store – on buses or from across the street – to look into the heart of the cafe.” A vertical timber element breaks up the polycarbonate and houses a large siren logo. The timber helps demarcate the ground floor entrance to the staircase leading up to the first floor core store. The ground floor facade is juxtaposed with the black polycarbonate above by introducing a colorful collage-style, street-art inspired original artwork, created by Hong Kong-resident, South African-artist Dustin Holmes. The loose interpretation of the art is a mystical siren bringing the gift of coffee to the fragrant harbour through visuals of far off coffee-growing regions, depicted by topography and patterns. “The idea behind this artwork is to engage with people walking by and leave its interpretation up to their opinion. Art is a powerful engager and by introducing something that isn’t directly Starbucks branding, it helps the store appear more personable and position itself in the local community,” explained the spokesperson. “The design team worked closely with the artist to develop the composition and layering while using his unique style to depict the scene.” The Starbucks experience The Starbucks Wan Chai cafe’s interior focal point is the ground floor, which is dedicated to “allow customers to personally experience the Starbucks world of coffee excellence”. “A cup of Starbucks coffee is the result of a long and passionate journey: from growing coffee beans, to ethically sourcing the best from our farmers, right through to our roasting, blending and brewing by our coffee masters and baristas.” So the ground floor illustrates a six-stage journey of discovery – sourcing, growing, de-pulping, sorting, drying and quality control. In-store art across the three floors is based on community. A pair of open hands holding coffee beans, created by Alex Aranovich, greets visitors as they walk up the stairs to the first-floor. There, customers can see a version of Shogo Ota’s ‘Coffee People’ which depicts communities and their engagement with the journey of the bean from farm to cup. On the second level there is a public seating area on a semi-outdoor terrace. This space was carved into the interior with windows opening outside to create an al fresco feeling. There is a lattice screen on the ceiling, a plant wall and planter boxes on the window which add to the outdoor feel. Starbucks coffee workshop Part of the second level is dedicated to a Starbucks coffee workshop, where customers can enjoy the experience of creating latte art or hand-drip coffee brewing training including pour over, Chemex and siphon by a Starbuck coffee master. Registrations are taken for the workshops online, and a course costs HK$450, including a set of limited edition merchandise: a denim design Starbucks apron, tote bag, scooper and vouchers for redeeming Starbucks coffee beans. The Starbucks Wan Chai store is open from 7am to 9pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 9pm on Sundays and public holidays. This story was first published in the Inside Retail Hong Kong quarterly magazine edition. Click here to subscribe to the magazine in digital or print format and be among the first to read features like this before they appear online.