What Is Starbucks Reserve? (Differences Compared To Starbucks)

Coffee Levels is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Starbucks, a name synonymous with coffee, has journeyed far beyond its humble Seattle origins, permeating global culture with its distinctive green mermaid logo. But what is Starbucks Reserve within this coffee empire? And what is the difference between Starbucks and Starbucks Reserve?

Designed to cater to true coffee connoisseurs, Starbucks Reserve represents the pinnacle of Starbucks’ coffee artistry and expertise. The mission? To deliver rare, exotic coffee experiences that transcend the boundaries of the traditional coffee cup.

So, next time you’re looking for a truly memorable and immersive coffee adventure, head to a Starbucks Reserve and prepare to be amazed by the extensive tasting menus and unforgettable, high-quality coffees that await you.

What Is Starbucks Reserve?

Reserve Coffee

Starbucks Reserve is a selection of the rarest and most extraordinary coffees that Starbucks has to offer.

These beans are sourced from small, unique coffee-growing regions, providing you with incredible flavors and aromas.

Single-Origin Coffee

At the core of Starbucks Reserve, you’ll find single-origin coffees. These beans come from a specific region or country, allowing you to experience the unique taste and characteristics of that specific location.

You can savor the unique flavors of each single-origin coffee and expand your coffee palate.

Worldwide Expansion

Starbucks has been expanding its Reserve program to locations around the world. With more than 6,200 stores in over 240 cities, you can find Starbucks Reserve offerings in many major cities.

The list of locations includes their flagship Reserve Roastery in Seattle and other locations such as Milan, Chicago, and New York.

Reserve Roasteries

Reserve Roasteries are high-end Starbucks locations that specialize in small-batch, individually sourced Starbucks Reserve coffees.

These stores have working roasteries, coffee bars attended by skilled baristas, and some even have alcohol bars tended by mixologists.

You can also find Italian bakeries, gift shops, and libraries, creating a unique and immersive coffee experience.

Reserve Bars

At Starbucks Reserve Bars, you can enjoy an elevated coffee experience. Baristas at these bars showcase their craft by brewing, aging, infusing, and blending Starbucks Reserve coffees into imaginative and often surprising creations.

These bars, which can be found within select Starbucks Reserve locations, offer a chance to truly appreciate the art and expertise that goes into crafting the perfect cup of coffee just for you.

What Is The Difference Between Starbucks And Starbucks Reserve?

A noticeable difference between Starbucks and Starbucks Reserve lies in the quality of coffee beans and coffees. Starbucks Reserve offers a collection of rare, limited-availability coffees curated from small farms worldwide.

These beans are meticulously processed and roasted, resulting in exotic, complex flavors that provide a distinct experience compared to the more widely available blends at a regular Starbucks.

The atmosphere and customer experience within Starbucks Reserve and regular Starbucks also vary significantly. A Starbucks Reserve store is a coffee-lovers theatre, providing an immersive experience where customers can witness the bean-to-cup journey.

The interiors are designed with high-end finishes, artistic installations, and large, theatrical coffee bars, often featuring beautiful copper cask coffee roasters. Regular Starbucks locations, while still cozy and inviting, focus more on speed and convenience.

Lastly, the exclusivity of Starbucks Reserve cannot be overstated. Unlike regular Starbucks products, which are widely available, Starbucks Reserve coffees are offered for a limited time and in limited quantities.

These beans’ rarity and extraordinary quality add an aura of exclusivity and luxury that regular Starbucks doesn’t possess.

This exclusivity also extends to Starbucks Reserve’s drink menu, featuring unique concoctions unavailable at standard Starbucks outlets.

Crafted with precision by skilled baristas, these beverages allow coffee enthusiasts to explore new flavors and brewing methods.

The Starbucks Reserve Brand and Vision

The Birth of Starbucks Reserve

The Starbucks Reserve journey began back in 2010 when Starbucks decided to create a line of rare and extraordinary coffees. These Arabica coffees are handpicked by Master Roasters and brewed into stunning works of art.

With the innovation of the Reserve program, Starbucks wanted to present the luxurious side of coffee that brings out the artistry of blending and brewing these exceptional beans.

If you visit a Starbucks Reserve store, you’ll get a firsthand coffee theater experience, witnessing the bean-to-cup journey unfold.

You’ll see unique coffee drinks like Nitro Cascara Cloud and crafted espresso drinks, embodying the pinnacle of Starbucks’ expertise in the coffee industry.

Growing the Reserve Program

Starbucks had big plans for the Reserve program. They went on a hunt for the best and most unique coffee beans worldwide for their Reserve coffee. Each Starbucks Reserve shop is like a coffee theatre, where people can watch how coffee goes from a bean to a cup.

Unlike your typical neighborhood Starbucks café, Reserve stores offer an immersive and elevated coffee experience. Featuring large and theatrical coffee bars, these refinement hubs invite you to taste complex flavors and exotic selections of ethically sourced coffee beans.

To imbue their establishments with a classy allure, Starbucks has designed the interiors with high-end finishes and artistic installations.

Among the six operating Starbucks Reserve facilities worldwide, the Capitol Hill location in Seattle is quite well-known and pivotal to the program’s expansion.

The Reserve program extensively expanded to other locations, such as New York City. Often, these stores are set in higher-end districts within selected cities, allowing customers a chance to indulge in luxurious coffee creations.

Future of Starbucks Reserve

The future of Starbucks Reserve is looking bright as the program aims to further enhance and grow its presence within the coffee culture.

Innovations in production methods and commitment to ethically sourcing coffee from cooperatives enable Starbucks to develop and refine their offerings continuously.

In addition to traditional retail locations, Starbucks Reserve coffee can be ordered online, allowing more customers to enjoy the carefully crafted and exquisite coffee offerings.

The blending of artistic expression with luxury and mastery in crafting outstanding coffee experiences makes Starbucks Reserve a unique and delightful experience for coffee lovers like you. So, go ahead and join the Starbucks Reserve journey for a taste of the best they have to offer!

Starbucks Reserve Beans and Roasting

Bean Sourcing and Quality

At Starbucks Reserve, you’ll experience some of the rarest and most exceptional coffee beans in the world. These beans are carefully sourced from small family-run farms and ancient estate plantations, ensuring the highest quality Arabica beans.

With Starbucks Reserve, you’ll explore new flavors and stories from people and places that go into making these exquisite coffees.

Roasting Process

When it comes to the Roasting Process, you’ll appreciate the exceptional care given to Starbucks Reserve beans. At Starbucks Reserve Roasteries, they develop a unique roast for each lot of beans to bring out the best flavors and aromas.

You’ll love knowing that these beans are roasted in small batches, using state-of-the-art Roasters present at the Reserve Roastery locations, including the iconic location near the Empire State Building.

Seasonal and Limited Edition Coffees

Starbucks Reserve doesn’t hold back in providing you an exciting coffee experience. They offer seasonal and limited-edition single-origin coffees to keep your taste buds intrigued.

The passion of Starbucks Reserve originates from Howard Schultz’s vision of bringing the most extraordinary and rarest beans to coffee enthusiasts like you. You’ll truly enjoy being a part of this exclusive coffee journey that keeps evolving with its innovative offerings.

Starbucks Reserve Locations

Starbucks Reserve locations are more than coffee shops; they are elaborate, immersive coffee experiences that reflect the brand’s commitment to coffee artistry. These locations are divided into two main categories: Roasteries and Reserve Bars or Stores.

Roasteries serve as the shining jewels in the Starbucks Reserve crown. These are awe-inspiring spaces where Starbucks Reserve coffee beans are roasted, packaged, and brewed all under one roof.

The grandeur and sophistication of Roasteries make them must-visit destinations for coffee lovers.

Each Roastery is uniquely tailored to its host city, encapsulating the local culture alongside Starbucks’ coffee heritage.

  • Seattle: As the birthplace of Starbucks, the Seattle Roastery is a tribute to the brand’s history and passion for coffee craftsmanship.
  • Shanghai: The Shanghai Roastery is a fusion of Starbucks’ coffee artistry and China’s rich tea culture, featuring the world’s largest Starbucks retail space.
  • Milan: Paying homage to Italy’s espresso tradition, the Milan Roastery showcases intricate Tuscan-style architecture and is home to the brand’s first-ever cocktail bar, the Arriviamo Bar.
  • New York: The New York Roastery is a tribute to the city’s vibrant coffee culture and is home to the first permanent Starbucks Reserve Princi Bakery.
  • Tokyo: This Roastery integrates traditional Japanese aesthetics with futuristic design elements while offering some of the most innovative coffee brewing methods.
  • Chicago: The world’s largest Starbucks, the Chicago Roastery, extends over five floors and integrates coffee, food, and cocktail experiences inspired by the city’s rich culinary tradition.

Starbucks Reserve Bars and Reserve Stores

Reserve Bars and Reserve Stores are smaller-scale versions of Roasteries. Reserve Bars offer a wider selection of Reserve coffees compared to regular Starbucks stores and feature the manual brewing methods seen in Roasteries.

Reserve Stores take this a step further, offering not only a wider selection of coffees and brewing methods but also a broader food menu, featuring items from the Princi bakery.

They serve as test platforms for Starbucks to experiment with new ideas before launching them in their regular stores.

Starbucks Reserve Empire State Building Store

Starbucks Reserve continues to expand its presence, and its newest addition is the Empire State Building Store. This location is a symbol of Starbucks’ commitment to bringing exceptional coffee experiences to coffee lovers around the world.

The Empire State Building is one of the most iconic landmarks in New York City and the world. It represents ambition, innovation, and the spirit of the city. By opening a Starbucks Reserve store here, Starbucks is signifying its own aspirations to push the boundaries of coffee culture and maintain its position as a global coffee powerhouse.

True to the ethos of Starbucks Reserve, the Empire State Building Store features an immersive coffee bar where guests can enjoy small-lot Starbucks Reserve coffees. Apart from the signature Reserve drinks, this store also has exclusive offerings inspired by New York City’s diverse and vibrant food culture.

The interior is designed to reflect both the art deco grandeur of the Empire State Building and the Starbucks Reserve’s commitment to transparency and craftsmanship.

Elements of coffee production are integrated into the store’s design, from the beautifully displayed coffee beans to the state-of-the-art brewing methods in action.

This Starbucks Reserve store also embraces digital innovation with mobile ordering, touchless payment, and interactive displays that educate customers about the journey of their coffee from bean to cup.

This unique blend of tradition and technology offers visitors a coffee experience that’s one-of-a-kind.

Frequently Asked Starbucks Reserve Questions

What makes Starbucks Reserve unique?

Starbucks Reserve offers a selection of the rarest and most extraordinary coffees, pushing the boundaries of craft by developing unique roasts for each individual lot.

The small-batch roasting process ensures that each batch is consistent and of the highest quality. Starbucks Reserve showcases these exclusive creations, providing a truly unique experience for coffee enthusiasts.

How many Starbucks Reserve locations are there?

There are more than 700 Starbucks Reserve locations around the world, each offering limited-edition specialty drinks and an elevated ambiance compared to traditional Starbucks stores.

What special menu items can be found at Starbucks Reserve?

Starbucks Reserve locations offer an exclusive menu that goes beyond their regular offerings. You’ll find limited-time specialty drinks, as well as unique brewing, aging, infusing, and blending techniques that result in innovative and often surprising creations. Each Starbucks Reserve location strives to provide a one-of-a-kind experience for its guests.

What are the key differences between Starbucks and Starbucks Reserve?

While Starbucks is known for its signature coffee beverages and delicious pastries, Starbucks Reserve elevates the experience by focusing on rare and extraordinary coffees.

The Reserve locations feature a more upscale ambiance and offer exclusive, limited-edition menu items. Additionally, Starbucks Reserve often uses different brewing techniques and equipment, further distinguishing it from traditional Starbucks stores.

How many Starbucks Reserve Roasteries exist globally?

Starbucks Reserve Roasteries are flagship locations that showcase the full range of Starbucks Reserve experiences, including coffee roasting, brewing, and unique menu offerings.

These Roasteries are larger and more elaborate than typical Reserve locations. As of now, there are several Starbucks Reserve Roasteries globally, with each bringing a unique and immersive coffee experience to its visitors.

Bottom Line On What Is Starbucks Reserve?

Starbucks Reserve has reshaped the landscape of the coffee industry. Through its Roasteries, Reserve Stores, and Reserve Bars, Starbucks has showcased the vast range of coffee tastes and aromas, thus elevating the global coffee culture to new heights.

If you haven’t yet indulged in the Starbucks Reserve experience, it’s high time you did. So step into a Starbucks Reserve location, and let your senses be swept away in a symphony of coffee craftsmanship and innovation. You won’t look at coffee the same way again.


  1. https://www.starbucksreserve.com/en-us/about
  2. https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2023/starbucks-ceo-laxman-narasimhan-visits-partners-in-china/
  3. https://www.starbucksreserve.com/en-us/locations/reserve-bars

You might also like:

Featured image credit: Starbucks

Click here to view the Visual Story Version of this Article.