Seattle, WA

Seattle- I Admit I Was Kind of Wrong About Starbucks

Ash Jurberg

Original Starbucks Store in Seattle Source: Author

I have a public confession to make to the people of Seattle. I was wrong about Seattle's coffee giant Starbucks.

I'm originally from Australia and am a coffee snob. Coffee is a religion where I live, and we all rush for our precious coffees every morning. We obsess over coffee and question baristas over the beans they use and how they roast them.

Starbucks came to Australia and failed. It was the only country in the world where the Seattle company couldn't make a profit. They came, they opened stores on every corner, and a few years later, they were all closed. We didn't like the thought of cream or syrups or pumpkin spice in our coffees. This was a serious drink, not a milkshake.

So when I was lucky enough to visit Seattle recently, I was kind of worried. Would it just be wall-to-wall Starbucks? How would I survive?

First, I was glad to see a wide range of small coffee houses in addition to the big chains. But I thought, seeing as Seattle is the home of Starbucks, I should give it a go.

We decided to head to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle's vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood. The description on the website certainly sounded enticing, " It is an immersive and dramatic expression of our passion for coffee, located just nine blocks from our original Starbucks Pike Place store. "

As a homage, we decided first to visit the original Pike Place store, pictured above, and grab a coffee before walking the nine blocks. The Seattle Roastery certainly looks grand from the outside and not like any Starbucks store. Walking inside, it is evident the multi-million dollars spent on design and construction were worth it.

The smell of coffee wafts throughout the store, and there is coffee in various stages of production, from roasting to brewing. It almost feels like walking into a very well-designed, expensive science lab.

Source: Author

We sat down, and after quizzing our server we decided to order a coffee flight. I have been to many breweries and wineries and have had the pleasure to taste many beer and wine flights- however, this was my first time trying a coffee flight.

Upon receiving our flight, our passionate server went into great detail about the different coffee styles we would be tasting, the origin of the beans. And there was no cream or caramel syrup in sight!

Most of the coffee was different from what would be found at a regular Seattle Starbucks store, and there was a slight premium in the price, but it was definitely worth it. I overheard a person at the next table ask for a pink coffee drink (I have no idea what that even is), and the server politely informed her, "that we aren't the usual Starbucks store; our menu is very different."

As soon as our first flight was finished, we ordered another- fully prepared for a caffeine overload.

Another coffee flight! Source: Author

The overall experience and the great tasting coffee certainly made me think about my anti-Starbucks bias. While I would never walk into a regular Starbucks store, I would definitely recommend visiting the Seattle Starbucks Reserve Roastery.

In fact, we also paid a visit to the Sodo Reserve Store located on the street level of Starbucks corporate headquarters in Seattle. It didn't have the luxurious feel of the Roastery but still had a great ambiance, and the bakery inside the store served up a range of delicious goods which complimented our coffee.

So the fine people of Seattle, I apologize for my hatred of Starbucks. I just have a hatred for the regular Starbucks store- but the Reserve stores are a different experience altogether. And now will be the first place I stop when I visit Seattle next.

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