Courtesy of Starbucks Reserve
Courtesy of Starbucks Reserve

There's a Massive New Starbucks Reserve® Store Inside the Empire State Building® — So We Explored It

A new Starbucks location is opening up in Midtown. That may not seem like news, but this one is very different from your usual coffee shop. Starbucks Reserve® stores represent the company’s passion for coffee, craft and innovation. New York has been lucky enough to host several of these sites, including the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in the Meatpacking District, where you can see the roasting process firsthand, and the Starbucks Reserve store in Greenwich Village. However, their new location just opened in one of New York's most iconic spots: within the Empire State Building itself. Because it’s such a legendary building, we had to check it out and report back. Here’s what we learned:

The Empire State Building® inspired its design

Spanning three stories and 23,000 square feet, the brand-new Starbucks Reserve store houses a ground floor to-go counter, downstairs lounge and coffee bar, and upstairs restaurant and cocktail bar. In each space, inspiration was taken from the Empire State Building while making the venue feel uniquely Starbucks, too. Local artists lent their touch to the design, creating several murals that play up Starbucks' history in the coffee world. An art deco aesthetic permeates the space, and even small details like curtains and room dividers evoke the architectural history of the Empire State Building. The ground floor is low-key but sophisticated, feeling like a high-end take on your typical neighborhood Starbucks cafe, and offers the brand's packed lineup of Italian fare from Princi, coffee drinks to go, plus Starbucks Reserve beans to take home.

Heading upstairs (past a three-story mural showcasing the coffee growing and brewing process) brings you to the restaurant, arranged to allow for large groups and intimate tables alike, where they’re serving up dinner, cocktails, and more. Again, the art deco influences are everywhere, from the exposed steel beam columns to the gorgeous full bar.

The final floor, the below-ground lounge area, features reservable private rooms and coffee bars set up for tastings and classes. If you’re friends with a whiskey-coffee aficionado, maybe they’d like to try Whiskey Barrel-Aged 101. Martini lovers can try the Espresso Martini Flight Fundamentals workshop, while those of all ages can sign up for the Spirit-Free Spritzes class.

Courtesy of Starbucks Reserve

There’s way more than coffee on the menu

Right now at the upstairs restaurant, you can stop in to try the shareable bites like labneh yogurt with blistered tomatoes and polenta fries, as well as more extensive main courses, like chicken cacciatore and lasagna bolognese. We were also able to get a first-look at brunch service, set to open soon, which will include mushroom frittatas and sourdough waffles, topped with a homemade coffee syrup, of course. For dessert, the whiskey barrel-aged baba and a flight of affogatos add a smoky-sweet combo to the menu.

We also got a taste of the restaurant’s shareable cocktails, including an Empire Negroni, infused with Starbucks' custom Empire State Building blend coffee, and the Siren Tea Punch with chamomile-infused tequila. Each was served up in vintage absinthe decanters for an Insta-friendly presentation.

The downstairs is really where Starbucks Reserve team's love of coffee shines: the entire space is dedicated to sampling, learning, and appreciating every possible style of java. Here, we had the chance to try our hand at pour-over coffee experimentation, a demo of the larger Brewtender For A Day workshop offered there. We learned all about the science of brewing a perfect cup, and explored the aromatics of the roast while soaking our beans to perfection. Afterwards, we sipped on cold-extracted espresso, made with a technique that extracts less oil from the beans during brewing, giving it a lighter texture and smoother taste. This cold-extracted espresso is incorporated in two unique drinks we got to try: an Iced Americano topped with an Apple Foam, and their Malted Milkshake made with vanilla gelato and black lemon.

Courtesy of Starbucks Reserve

How to see it for yourself

If you just want to pop in for a drink or snack, the location is open from 7 am to 10 pm most days. Not only that, but the site is now taking reservations for their workshops, which are highly recommended. Our suggestion: check out the Innovation Bar experience and try the new Cold Pressed Espresso — the Malted Milkshake with black lemon is worth the price of admission on its own. For a full list of workshops and experiences, plus menus and other information, check out the website.