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Veg Out: Starbucks Reserve Roastery

October 12, 2016

I think it’s high time that I remind a certain cast-iron supervillain that I run this blog. It’s time to talk coffee.

Even if you drink an americano after 3 pm today, tonight you will sleep like a baby. Maybe even like a babyccino. Because today we are going to address a question that haunts the American psyche during these turbulent times, namely: If you live in Seattle, should you take your out-of-town guests to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, or should you seek out another coffee escapade?

roastery vat

(A) The web site for this place promises a “multisensory coffee experience” that Starbucks “had to create” after “the Siren called.” Sheesh, people. Whatever happened to “underpromise, overdeliver”?

(B) The Roastery tchotchke shop, which previously seemed fine and all, now wants to sell you a handcrafted leather cold-brew-coffee-growler sling. For your Starbucks Reserve bicycle.


If this makes the veins pop out of your neck and temples, I recommend watching at least two seasons of Portlandia before visiting.

And yes I KNOW that upon further inspection of the sign, one discovers that the bike is made my MiiR, which supports nonprofits focused on water, education, and bicycle transportation. Admirable, and YET STILL SOMEHOW MADDENING. OH HEYYY! JUST CRUISIN’ ON MY STARBUCKS RESERVE BICYCLE!

Ahhhh. Thank you for letting me release that. And now, a list of Roastery cons and pros.

Con: Parking can be tricky. Try the pay lot on the Northeast corner of Pike and Melrose. Or, if you retain your Desert Cred, consider walking up Pike from your downtown hotel.

Pro: Air conditioning + ubermodern, sleek décor = a perfectly chilled concrete floor for you to lie on while recovering from walking up said hill. (Particularly effective with summertime guests.)

Con: Air conditioning + ubermodern, sleek décor makes the place feel a little cold (har!) and over-engineered.

Roastery counter

Pro: And yet it’s also somewhat Willy Wonka-esque! A Pike Place Market tour is a must-do for my guests, but many of them come back from a visit to the “original” Pike Place Starbucks feeling kind of meh, since it looks exactly like a normal Starbucks. The Roastery ups the ante. Coffee beans ride little elevators into copper roasting silos. Glistening copper pipes zig-zag from roasting silo to barista bar.

Con: Coffee River somewhat more dangerous than Chocolate River. Augustus Gloop and/or Üter Zörker ignores the barista oompa loompas (baristaloompas?) and runs full-speed toward the flow of scalding hot espress—no, wait! Come back, Augustus!



Don’t make me run! My belly is full of chocolate!

Pro: Dizzying food selection far outstrips other Starbuckses. There’s a Serious Pie location inside, and the coffee bar serves Tom Douglas’s Serious Biscuits. Both of Douglas’s Serious Foods are already on my short list of Seattle food destinations.

Roastery food

Con: Food prices to match. Apricot jam for your biscuit will set you back $2.

Pro: Freshly roasted beans, plus a plethora of preparations, from Clover to Chemex.

Con: And yet … My americano con crema, which was beautifully prepared with coffee-spiced foam and a demerara sugar stripe, tasted almost exactly like the cinnamon dolce latte of yesteryear. Maybe other selections are better?

Pro: Home of the nicest public restroom in Seattle. No contest. Where else can you look out over a small-batch coffee roasting operation while washing your hands?

roastery restroom

Con: Corgis cloud judgment.


I was going to conclude that I recommend visiting The Roastery only if you are in the area anyway. But then I walked outside it and there were TWO CORGIS drinking the water they set out for pets and both corgis came over and started licking my toes and then the one named Paddington sat on my feet and refused to move. I now will love The Roastery forever.

Seattleites: For visitors craving caffeine, what would you recommend? A deconstructed latte at Slate Coffee (which, for the record, skews more Portlandia than the Roastery, but is also delicious)? Cocktails made with a local distillery’s coffee liqueur?

My current  favorite: Pick up coffee and a croissant at Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle, and then ride the ferry to Vashon. Because it’s fun. Also because it reminds me of these delightfully frivolous Nespresso pods, which are flavored with salt air by “monsoon winds,” and which drive a certain cast-iron supervillain up the wall.


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