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Starbucks Reserve Roastery

Their literature says that it was “the call of the siren” that asked them to build it. I’m certain that is true and of course their absolute passion for coffee. I’m talking about the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery at the corner of Pike St. and Melrose Ave. very near the Seattle downtown retail core. The address is 1124 Pike St.  I’m quite sure I was one of the first to visit when it opened in early December of 2014. I wouldn’t have known about it but I had a group of business students from Guadalajara in for a week and their instructor asked me to take them there. I’m like…sure…what? I’ve been a tour guide in Seattle for 10 years and I should know where things are but I was caught off guard on this one.(In my defense, it had only been open for a few days.) So I was as amazed and impressed as my guests from Mexico when I walked through the front door.  It absolutely dazzles. Copper, bronze, glass everything new and sparkly and of course the wonderful aroma. A 15,000 square foot shrine to coffee. My most recent visit was just a few days ago in April ’17. As a tour and charter bus company, I can’t help but marvel at the planning that allows for a charter bus parking spot absolutely right at the door. Right at the front door. Talk about convenient especially in the Capitol Hill neighborhood where you’ll find any kind of parking at a premium. If you’re not arriving in a charter bus though, travelling there on foot or by public transportation is best.

The building itself is art deco and beautiful. Formerly, it was the Packard building and is located on what was Seattle’s auto row in the 1940’s. The renovation took two years and has been restored to its original elegance. There were two first impressions during my initial visit. One was the enormous double doors and the second was the two dog watering dishes on either side of them. You may be wondering how a dog watering dish can be impressive but these are. We here in Seattle love our pets and at most coffee shops if there is a dish for the pooch at all it’s going to be as an afterthought. It will probably be a make shift dish such as a plastic bottle with its top cut off or some such. Not at the Roastery. The dog dishes there are hammered copper with bronze rings and they must be at least 12 inches in diameter. On my last visit, I learned that the copper has been replaced by stainless steel because it holds up better but still. Your puppy gets special treatment also. “Woof, woof” is written above the dish. Is that mineral water in the dish from France?  


The green coffee beans are stored in huge silos on site while they await roasting in one of the two custom made roasters. After the beans have been roasted, they are transferred to the copper cask where they go to rest before being packaged for shipment or moved to the coffee bar. The main bar is spectacular. It’s made from solid teak and was handcrafted in the U.S. As a matter of fact, most of the furniture in the Roastery is handcrafted and there are many arranged around a central fireplace. What a great environment to hang out for a bit while studying or escaping from a cold and rainy day.

What the Reserve allows Starbucks to do is introduce new offerings or processes. One of the new offerings pairs nitro cold brew with ice cream for a cold brew float which is quickly becoming a top seller. Yum.  Testing here also helped introduce the affogato style Frappuccino. One of the processes that has been introduced is siphoning which creates a slightly cleaner taste than other styles of brewing.


Throughout the year, I bring all of my visiting groups to the Roastery  and they love it. Very popular with visitors too is the vast array of Starbucks merchandise available much of which has the distinctive “R” logo. I love it that when we climb back in to my bus we all have that delicious aroma of coffee following us on our clothing.


There are over 500 Reserve stores scheduled to open worldwide over the next several years. It is fantastic that we have this environmentally and socially responsible corporation’s central headquarters located here. Now it’s time for a second cup of coffee in front of the fireplace. Cheers!





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