Starbucks has its sights clearly set on China as its biggest future market, and is aggressively opening stores in the PRC.

On Wednesday this week Starbucks will be opening its largest cafe in the world, a sprawling 30,000 sq. ft. roastery in Shanghai, China.

Customers can watch coffee beans being roasted, try some of the high-end products and even interact with the store through an augmented reality mobile app on their phones and tablets.

Starbucks currently has about 3,000 stores in China, but it wants to put in at least another 2,000 by 2021 to take the grand total up to 5,000.

In less than a decade, their revenue contribution from China is expected to exceed their numbers in the United States, and there’s good reason for that.

Nearly 15% of overall revenue already comes from Asia-Pacific. Of that, China contributes the largest chunk of income.

Moreover, China grew 8% in terms of same store sales against a global average of only 2% for the most recent quarter.

In separate news, Starbucks founder and Chairman Howard Schultz has spoken about potential synergies with China’s biggest e-commerce and technology player, Alibaba.

Referring to conversations with Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma, Schultz said:

“Jack and I have spoken about a lot of different things. The friendship and the shared values we have and their reach, our brand — there are things that we could do together.”

It wouldn’t come as a surprise if this “friendship” and “shared values” resulted in key partnerships that would tremendously benefit the Starbucks brand in China, which helping Ma leverage Starbucks’ considerable presence in the United States and other key markets.

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