Ten things you need to know about Starbucks

At 7:30 on 21 April, Starbucks finally opened the doors of its first South African store in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

The coffee house is designed with community in mind, drawing inspiration from the brand’s first store, which opened in Seattle in 1971, and the Rosebank neighbourhood.

Here are 10 other things you should know about this iconic chain:

1. No two Starbucks stores are the same. The Rosebank store design is the work of local artists, artisans and craftsmen. This includes woven leather ceiling panels, which reflect the Ubuntu theme of interconnectedness, said Carlo Gonzaga, CEO of Taste Holdings, at the launch on 20 April. Taste owns the licence for Starbucks in SA.

2. Each Starbucks is localised – one of the local products you can expect to see on the menu is rooibos.

3. A copper mural at the back of the store pays homage to the first store located in Pike Place, Seattle.

4. The furniture is moveable to encourage patrons to socialise and enhance the sense of community. Customers can decide how they want to engage with the brand, said Gonzaga. The store also has plug points for customers who’d like to work on their notebooks.

5. Several coffees sourced from farms in nine countries across Africa are available at the store. These are Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi, Zambia, Cameroon and the DRC. Other offerings include reserve coffees from Kenya and Burundi.

6. There’s a Reserve Bar that serves as a “coffee theatre”, where you can be part of a tasting experience and a barista will teach you more about coffee culture.

7. Besides coffee, Starbucks also offers merchandise and fresh food.

8. Store employees are known as partners. Eight of the partners went for training in the UK through the Taste Holdings’ Changing Lanes programme, and returned to recruit and train unemployed youth to become partners. Each partner learns the different roles – including how to be a barista or waiter – and every employee’s role can change daily.

9. There are plans to open three Starbucks stores in the country by the end of the year and 12 to 15 in the next two years, said Gonzaga. Expansion depends on the success of training partners to deliver the Starbucks experience. The second Starbucks store will be opened at the Mall of Africa at Waterfall City in Midrand next week.

10. Apart from the “unique” offering Starbucks brings, Gonzaga said that the partners in their green aprons are the true differentiating factor for Starbucks as they are the heart and soul of the experience. “Interaction with the partners is where the Starbucks brand comes to life,” he added.

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