What's The Difference Between Starbucks' Regular Cafes And Reserve?

With more than 38,000 cafes worldwide, Starbucks is so ubiquitous that most people probably don't think twice when they spot one. Sure, some are slightly bigger than others or offer drive-thru service. However, when it comes to the food and beverage options available at the cafe, there probably aren't going to be too many differences from store to store. You pretty much know what to expect when you walk through the doors.

That being said, there may come an occasion when a quick search for the closest Starbucks leads you to a Starbucks Reserve. If this is your situation, we'll admit that we're a little jealous. That not only means you're in one of the six major cities that Starbucks Reserve Roasteries and stores call home – New York, Milan, Seattle, Chicago, Tokyo, or Shanghai – but you're also in for a pretty unique coffee experience that is far from your daily java run.

Starbucks' regular cafes need no introduction

There's no bigger coffeehouse chain than Starbucks. You encounter these locations on practically every other street corner. So, the menu at a regular Starbucks cafe is one we're all familiar with. You can go basic and sip on one of the chain's signature roasts made with 100% Arabica beans that hail predominantly from Latin America. Or you can opt for one of its handcrafted coffee or espresso drinks, Refreshers, or teas — just don't forget to use Starbies' sizing lingo when placing an order with your green apron-wearing barista.

Starbucks cafes also offer a selection of seasonal items and food like breakfast sandwiches, pastries, and cake pops. Patrons are welcome to enjoy their purchase inside of the cafe's dining area. More often than not, however, they're probably just dropping in for a few minutes to pick up their favorite source of caffeine on the go.

Getting coffee from a Starbucks Reserve is an experience

Instagramming your daily caramel macchiato might be considered cringey these days, but you'll definitely want to have your camera ready if you're at a Starbucks Reserve, Reserve Roasteries, or Reserve Store, including the one located in the Empire State Building. Few and far between, these majestic Starbies can be multiple stories tall and offer exclusive, small-batch brews made from uniquely roasted, rare coffee beans from all around the world. Starbucks gets creative with coffee at Reserve locations, testing ideas to produce something potentially unexpected, such as a whiskey barrel-aged cold brew or a thick, milkshake-like cold brew malt.

We're not just talking coffee drinks, either. Starbucks Reserves' master roasters shake up cocktails featuring exclusive brews, like espresso martinis, which you can sample in flight form and pair with a tasty Italian treat from New York's Princi Bakery & Cafe. And, as if simply enjoying a beverage at one of these high-end Starbucks locations wasn't enough of an experience, patrons can sign up for events such as a roastery tour or a mixology class.

As previously mentioned, there are only a handful of Starbucks Reserve Roasteries and stores across the globe. However, for those wanting to taste one of the chain's rarer brews without booking a plane ticket, there are also over 1,500 regular Starbucks cafes serving Reserve coffee. A search filter on the company's app can help you find out if you live near one.