World's Coolest Starbucks Stores

Stores that break out of the 'Bucks cookie-cutter moldStores that break out of the 'Bucks cookie-cutter moldIt's no doubt a rare occasion when a Starbucks store gets associated with words like "unique" and "one-of-a-kind." Rare, but not outside of the realm of possibility.

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In the last couple of months, there has been a string of unique Starbucks stores making headlines. First there was an eco-friendly structure in Tukila, Wash., made entirely from reclaimed shipping containers, followed by the world's first ski-in/ski-out location in California's Squaw Valley.

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Most recently, there was the news of the opening of an Amsterdam location called "The Bank." The concept store - complete with locally inspired design elements and a "Slow" Coffee Theatre for testing new brewing methods - has been promoted by the company as a "glimpse into Starbucks' vision for the future."

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But it's not just these new concept stores that stand out in the crowd (and when it comes to Starbucks stores, there is definitely a crowd). Some locations distinguish themselves by innovative exterior design, others by their unexpected surroundings - and in one case, at least, by simply being atypical for the brand.

Yelp/Nicole W.Yelp/Nicole W.Breckenridge Starbucks (Breckenridge, Colo.)

There's no high-concept architectural design or special eco-friendly elements incorporated - it's just a cute little yellow cottage of a coffee shop, and if there wasn't a sign, you might not even realize it was a Starbucks from the outside.

Wikimedia Commons/Joi ItoWikimedia Commons/Joi ItoStarbucks at the Ibn Battuta Mall (Dubai, UAE)

Talk about a mall Starbucks outlet unlike any other. Located inside Dubai's extravagantly decorated Ibn Battuta Mall - allegedly the world's largest themed shopping mall - this Starbucks location benefits from some pretty stunning surrounding design. Namely, a gorgeous blue-and-yellow, mosaic-tiled domed ceiling and a showpiece of a chandelier.

 Mikel Ward Mikel WardXi'an Starbucks (Xi'an, China)

Looking like some sort of futuristic battleship, this Starbucks in Xi'an, China (apparently the city's first when it opened in 2007), has quite a unique exterior. The sharp angles and symmetric wood paneling make for quite the stand-out-in-the-crowd design.

Jouni Saaristo, StarbucksJouni Saaristo, StarbucksAllure of the Seas Starbucks (Royal Caribbean cruise)

It may more or less look like the kind of garden variety Starbucks outlet you'd find at your local mall, but this shop has the benefit of a slightly more unique location: on board Royal Caribbean Cruises' Allure of the Seas. The 5,400-passenger ship debuted in October of 2010, and featured everything from a zip line and surfing simulators to an open-air, tree-lined "Central Park." Not exactly what you'd consider typical digs for a Starbucks store. KumaFukuoka Starbucks (Fukuoka, Japan)

Designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates, the store is located on the street leading to the Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine, which apparently influenced the firm's approach to the project. The designers wanted to have the store fit in seamlessly with the setting, and so the interior features some 2,000 light wood blocks interwoven throughout the length of the store. According to reports, the stunning effect is meant to evoke the look of branches in a forest, giving the impression that the store is "nestled in a tree." Design-wise, it might just be the coolest Starbucks ever.

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- Maryse Chevriere, The Daily Meal

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