Finding myself at the only (for now) Starbucks Roastery in Seattle wasn’t quite on my itinerary but my local friends said “I had to see it”. I was curious to experience the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room in Seattle plus we were all in need of a snack after our Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. It was also a good excuse to finally use all the Starbucks gift cards I had (apparently my friends/family had read my gift list for travelers but forgot I don’t drink coffee or tea) because one can only buy so many bottles of water and slices of lemon cake at the airport.
Welcome to the first Starbucks Roastery & Tasting Room
We drove from downtown since we were on our way to my friend’s house but it’s not a far walk (about nine blocks) from Pike Place Market, where the original Starbucks is located. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room is located at 1124 Pike Street and parking is tough so I’d suggest walking, public transit or uber/taxi. As the five of us entered the building, we were instantly greeted by a staff member who talked to us about the various sections of the property. He offered us a guide book and directed us to the counter for drinks & food. He was surrounded by racks of coffee, tea and expresso accessories as well as Starbucks Reserve branded merchandise (no green/white Starbucks merchandise here).
Starbucks Reserve Roastery Design Layout
The property spans two levels with the top floor showcasing the food, drink and gifts while the lower level showcased the roasting process along with a tasting bar and factory line that reminded me of a winery with bags of coffee passing by instead of wine bottles.
The bar décor is a center point of cool design in the Starbucks Roastery. The copper and glass was unique and nowhere in the Roastery would you see the traditional Starbucks white and green. This was definitely something different – contemporary with a nod to the past with the historic building and its architecture. There are many tables of different sizes and heights (all full so we stalked and then joined a communal table) as this is meant to be a destination experience.
There is a separate counter and menu for coffee beans from around the world. You can scoop up the beans for a great souvenir to enjoy at home and remember your Seattle visit. Some of the coffees are only available at this Starbucks Reserve Roastery location.
The Experience bar is on the lower level with siphon brewed coffees and drinks you can’t order at the main counter upstairs. Think tasting flights of coffee and drink guinea pig as you become part of their test kitchen for new drinks that may (or may not) be rolled out nationwide. Here’s a list of 6 drinks you can only get at the Seattle Starbucks Roastery (for now). After your tasting experience, you might want a new expresso machine or drip coffee accessories to replicate at home.
Starbucks Roastery Food & Drink Bar
The pastries (hello lovelies) were showcased behind the glass along with the various sandwiches and food options. The girls ordered grilled cheese sandwiches, cold coffee drinks and a pastry while I went with a standard order of orange juice and a chocolate croissant. When our name was called a staff member met us and carried the trays with food and drink to our table (nice touch) that we were sharing with others because it’s a popular place and seats are scarce.
The Starbucks Roastery Show
It’s hard to miss the roasting machines and production line as it seems they designed the consumer spaces around the experience of watching the beans fly out and spin every few minutes. With videos on record we were all in awe of the process. A bit silly but still fun even for big kids like me who don’t drink coffee.
Future Locations of Starbucks Reserve Roastery
New York is scheduled for 2018. Shanghai and Tokyo are the first Asian cities to see a Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is set for a four story Starbucks Roastery experience in 2019. Can’t wait for those locations to open? You can go online to order a Starbucks Roastery experience at home. They offer coffee subscriptions from $19-$44 per month (1-3 bags).
Final Thoughts – Starbucks Roastery in Seattle
I may not drink coffee but like the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room in Seattle is part attraction, part store and part food & beverage location. It can serve everyone. For now, it is novel to be the first of its kind and experience it before the rest of the world does.