Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Willy Wonka’s Coffee Factory

12/17/14 Platinum Carbon ink, Pitt Artist pens,
Van Gogh watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum
pencils, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook
As you might guess, with a blog called “Fueled by Clouds and Coffee” and living in Seattle, I spend a fair amount of time and money at Starbucks. I have to admit, though, that I spent more money there today than I ever have on a single visit, and it’s no coincidence. The Starbucks I visited is no ordinary Starbucks; it’s the brand new Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. (Here's a link to a great video.)

Front entrance.
You can’t get an ordinary tall latte there. I couldn’t even get my usual holiday favorite, the cranberry bliss bar. This place is all special: all the coffees are limited-quantity, doubly priced Reserve coffees. The ceramic cups are nicer, the coffee bags are nicer (and even come with a fancy little clip on top), the tables are nicer (“custom designed for the space and manufactured by hand,” says the brochure). The food is made by local chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas. The guy who helped me was no ordinary barista; he was like a concierge of Starbucks coffee, helping me through the whole ordering process. (When he saw me leaving 45 minutes later, he said, “Have a great day, Tina! Thanks for coming in!”) Even the baristas were better dressed and had better haircuts than most. (Greg said, “I feel like we’re in New York.”)

In front of the main bar.
The huge space is filled with copper piping and transparent pneumatic transfer tubes filled with coffee beans being transported along “the journey of the bean,” as the brochure says. When you’re washing your hands in the unisex restroom area, you can look out over the inner workings of the small roasting equipment. Its right out of Willy Wonka! As for sipping your cup o’ Starbucks Reserve (I chose Pantheon blend brewed on the Clover), you can sit at small tables, large tables, low tasting tables, a rentable “library” space, a fireplace or several bars.

Tina sucked in by two marketing machines!

Hook, line and sinker. I was dazzled.

And as long as I was sucked in by all the hype, I decided to go all the way. Although I sometimes use Field Notes Brand notebooks for memos, I’m not crazy about the paper for sketching or even writing because it’s not great with a fountain pen. But I had heard that Field Notes had come out with a limited-edition run of Starbucks Roastery-branded notebooks that would be available only at this one store. Guess who bought a few?

Ah, retail marketing – you gotta love it!

(Although I didn’t sketch there today, technically, there is a sketching tie-in: The Friday ad hoc sketchers are planning to visit in a month or two, and I decided to scout it out. I have no doubt – it’s an excellent sketching venue!)
Lower level seating and bar.


  1. You're soooooo lucky. Seattle is soooooo lucky. Great post about this amazing place.

    Cheers --- Larry

  2. Sounds like an awesome place to visit and sip and sketch!!! How fun!

  3. Whoa! I think you've found coffee Mecca! Great post about a truly unique place. Looking forward to sketching there with you all.


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