What I Did On My Summer Vacation
Guys, I’ve been wanting to take this trip for a while now (you may remember I mentioned it waaay back in 2015 when the Roastery first opened), but this summer I finally did it! I got in my car and I took a road trip to Seattle, Washington and visited the very 1st Starbucks and the Reserve Roastery. I live about two states away and it was an 18-hour drive, but I made it! (I did other things along the way and visited other places, I didn’t just drive all that way to go to Starbucks, I’m not that extra). I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it.
The Original Starbucks
Right off the bat, the first thing I noticed and adored about the original Starbucks is the location. It’s directly across from and facing Pike Place Market, a great place full of small vendors selling everything from fresh produce to fish to handmade jams and jewelry, and both are very near to the water. The surrounding stores are pretty quaint and the street is still cobblestone, the area isn’t built up and fancy or anything; there’s still a very authentic feel to the area. Inside is another story, the Starbucks store itself has been completely modernized and remodeled and looks just like any other Starbucks, albeit a little cramped. And packed.
The line goes down the block a bit. I got there around 10 am on a Thursday and waited for about 30 minutes, but the employees are very efficient and things ran pretty smoothly. They have about 15 items that can only be purchased exclusively in that location and a laminated card with pictures of the available items is passed around the line so you can get an idea of any souvenirs you want to purchase before you get inside – I had my eye on an apron before I saw the $99 price tag and instead a got a cute tote bag with a drawing of the storefront on it for $20.
Once inside, the store is very small. I tried to take pictures, but they all came out a bit blurry or with flares from the overhead lights. Not a lot of room to maneuver and I didn’t want to hold up the line, so I apologize for the quality of the pictures. The serving counter takes up pretty much the entire right side of the store when you walk in and there are boxes stacked everywhere. The boxes are because the entire left wall of the small space is lined with shelves displaying stuff for purchase, but that stuff is only that – for display. The dozens of boxes are where the actual items available for purchase are kept. I felt a little bad for the employees constantly having to tell customers not to take things from the shelves as they were display only, I’m guessing they must have to do that dozens of times a day.
The far wall of the store is where the baristas make your drink. They were pretty quick and efficient, and very calm and collected in the face of so many orders, so big kudos to them – they’re the real MVP. My venti Java Chip Frappuccino, add 3 shots, with almond milk (no whip) was made very quickly and tasted perfect 👍.
On the way out I noticed a pig statue above the door but didn’t think to ask about it at the time, and now I’m terribly curious. Anybody know what that’s about?
The Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room
The first thing I noticed about the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting room was the location as well – in that it was much farther away from the original Starbucks than I expected it to be. For some reason, in my mind, I figured that since both the original Starbucks and the Roastery are on Pike, they must be pretty close – like if not touching, maybe down the street from each other. I was wrong. The original Starbucks is on Pike PLACE and the Roastery is on Pike STREET. They are about a mile apart, roughly 9 blocks, and about 20-30 min walking distance. Since I already paid to park, I figured I’d just hoof it. It’s not a bad walk, it takes you through downtown and past some pretty nice stores, but the last part is very uphill. Just FYI.
The roastery is very aesthetically pleasing from the inside out. Big glass windows, a large stone facade, and grand wooden doors greet the visitor on approach. Even the sidewalk leading up to the front is pretty:
Inside is pretty as well, exposed wood beams and shiny copper fixtures as far as the eye can see, but also… a little intimidating? There’s a lot going on in the there. The building is not actually all that big considering it’s part large gift shop, part roastery/packaging plant, and part tasting room.
The gift shop has a bunch of unique items, including a Starbucks bike! For a price, you can also get a custom coffee reading to determine which blend of Starbucks’ small-lot Reserve® coffees is the one for you.
The roastery is pretty cool as well. You can watch them roast the Starbucks Reserve Coffee from beginning to end and even see the packaging on a little assembly line.
For tasting, there are two counters to order from: a large one in the center of the action, or a small, more intimate one down a set of stairs tucked against the far wall. Around these counters, sitting in small groups or at the bars, are people from all walks of life – from groups of men in business suits to tourists to families to single patrons enjoying their coffee and reading the paper. But, be warned, were are a lot of people. Finding a seat or even navigating around was a bit difficult, but keep in mind I was there around noon in the middle of the week during July (tourist season).
I ended up ordering an Iced Sparkling Espresso With Mint (“espresso, mint and demerara syrup served over ice and finished with sparkling water”) and a “Cold Bew Flight” of D.R. Congo Kawa Kabuya (“try the same single-origin coffee as straight cold brew & infused with nitrogen). I very much enjoyed both, but that sparkling espresso mint drink rocked my world, I highly recommend it – especially since it was only $6.50, I was worried that the beverages would be a lot more expensive, so yay 👍!
I’m so glad I made this trip – as a Starbucks fangirl it was totally worth it and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. What about you guys? Have any of you made the journey? What was your take on the original Starbucks and/or the Starbucks Reserve Roastery And Tasting Room? If you haven’t been, do you want to?