Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle
Perched mid-slope in the Capitol Hill section of Seattle at the intersection of Pike and Minor, the flagship Starbucks Roastery in all its beige and bronze and panes of glass glory takes over the entire northwest corner. Large windows allow a gaping glimpse into the industrial yet inviting roastery and gift shop and pastry and coffee and seating areas. It took a minute, however, to determine where the actual entrance was, for as visible was the interior, the way leading into the building itself were reminiscent of medieval times, with large wrought-iron handles set into thick, heavy wooden windowless doors. Once opened, however, one is warmly greeted by an employee before venturing into the iconic Seattle establishment.
Alex was assisting a mother-daughter pair when I entered. Once they made their way to the cafe interior, after a brief introduction and now commonplace vaccination card check, I received my own introduction to the roastery, replete with recommendations of pastries and coffees to sample (you'll find below what I decided upon once within the Starbucks). After a taking quick portrait of my host, I made my way into one of the more interesting Starbucks I have been to.
If you have ever been inside any Starbucks, you'll find they are all laid out in similar fashion, regardless of town or city or country. As this is my first foray into their roastery branding - and I will assume it similar to their other roasteries - there was a lot new for me when compared with the more omnipresent Starbucks stores.
The gift shop was my first stop. There is a lot here, and as my visit was predominately with the intention of gifts for others, it served well with a varied and large offering of "Seattle" and "Reserve" products, as well as the annual Chinese New Year limited edition collection. Coffees and cups, mugs and ornaments, stickers and totes and various apparel. Bags of beans, of course. Jewelry scattered about as well. Oh, and some cute wooden vehicles with the Princi signature on it. (Some more info on him and his influence here.)
After settling on a select few items - it's very easy to purchase enough to empty a wallet and run up a credit card - I made my way around to view the actual roastery section. Nothing brewing (ahem) at the moment, but a clear view of a large coffee bean roaster, with a conveyer belt behind that was actively shuffling freshly packaged bags of beans. There was a downstairs area with bar and seating offering a bit more open and quieter atmosphere for patrons, with a more exposed view of the roastery itself. Even with the bar and roasting area, it had a living-room feel to it. Probably due to a couple of large lamps and some plush seating in the corner.
Making one's way back upstairs you're presented with a group of baristas encircled by espresso machines and tastefully presented pastries, ready to take and make your order. Alex had recommended the Guatemala espresso, and to try one of the "exceptional" baked offerings. Chocolate and hazelnut filling in a croissant? Yes please. They even included a cookie bite alongside the espresso (this should be a staple with every coffee order). Only thing missing would have been a small glass of seltzer to go with it (La Colombe really knows how to do this).
Took a window seat to rest and enjoy the alimentation and atmosphere before a final tour of the baking area beyond the gift shop. And quite the legitimate baking area they had. A large stainless-steel prep table fronts an enormous iron hearth with multiple sections. Bakers roll out dough for large rectangular savory pizzas and prepare panini sandwiches for patrons. Seems this roastery is a great place for lunch as well.
Overall it was an impressive and comfortable and inviting experience. Yes, the Reserve Roastery preserves the heart of Starbucks in its products, but the experience goes beyond the traditional Starbucks expectation. As opposed to the typical Starbucks where everything is pre-packaged, pre-made, and pretty much pre-everything, being in the Reserve Roastery offers a more authentic cafe/patisserie/brasserie bakery feel that goes beyond the Starbucks we have come to either loathe or love.
Date: February 9, 2022
Where: Seattle, Washington, USA
Camera: Nikon D750 with 24-70mm f/2.8
P.S. If you like the style of the photographs above I highly recommend checking out master photographer Irving Penn's "Small Trades" images - they are spectacular