The Starbucks Roastery opened in December 2014 in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. A roasting facility for Starbucks’ Reserve coffee line, the facility was created as a way for Starbucks to make accessible and showcase these select, small batch coffees through their best and most unique brewing methods.
The building, which includes two full bars, a gift shop, numerous tables and couches, private event rooms, and even a pizza shop, is quite large and showcases the roasting equipment out in the open for visitors to see. Employees even come out and let onlookers taste beans hot off the roaster on occasion.
At the bars, you really order like you are at a bar. A barista comes to your seat, offers you a menu, serves you sparkling water, and takes your order and payment on a portable tablet. They are also happy to answer any questions you may have. And the questions customers ask here are usually detailed ones, so you know they know their stuff! They all wear nametags that display where they are from, as some of the best are recruited from around the world to work here.
The tasting room only serves Starbucks reserve coffees and espresso, which are considered to be in the top 1% of their crop and are carefully crafted by their roasters in house. These coffees can be prepared in house in a number of ways, the first of which is a pourover, which involves pouring hot water directly over a cone of freshly ground coffee grounds. We used to dislike making these when I worked for Starbucks because they were time consuming, but it seems as though customers don’t mind waiting for a well executed cup of coffee here, so I am sure it’s not as bad.
The second method is through the Clover brewing system, which is unique to Starbucks and carried in some of their higher volume stores as a way to serve reserve coffees. It brews using a vacuum-press process, and controls water temperature and brew time carefully to brew the optimal cup of coffee. I had never had anything from a Clover machine, and was excited to try it. I ordered a decaf (it was my second drink, and I’m a lightweight!) Costa Rica Bella Vista F.W. Tres Rios made this way. It definitely tasted great, even for a decaf coffee.
You can also have your coffee prepared like its a science experiment with a process called siphoning. This crazy looking contraption allows coffee to be prepared by heating water over a burner, then placing another glass container with a valve that siphons the water up into it. Grounds are then lightly sifted into the hot water, and a filter at the bottom of the top container catches the grounds as the coffee is brewed back into the bottom portion. That coffee is then poured into a metal pot that is served with mugs to the customer. it was definitely the most complex brewing process we’d ever seen!
In addition to decadent looking milkshakes, the Roastery also offers cold brew floats, which is what I ordered and it was the most delicious coffee drink I’d ever had.
A cold brew is an iced coffee made through a cold brewing process that lets coffee steep in cool or cold water to result in a smooth, sweet taste. I ordered mine as a nitro cold brew, infused with nitrogen similar to the way a good stout beer is served, which results in an even smoother, sweeter, velvety flavor and is not served with ice. The particular coffee they had on this tap was Columbia Las Margaritas, which was fantastic – sweet and syrupy with hints of orange and vanilla. I would have gone home with some had it not cost $26/half pound! The drink was completed with a large scoop of Mora ice cream – a rich vanilla with chips of what I think were toffee in it. We had had this ice cream on Bainbridge Island and it was so creamy and delicious, it really made the $10 I sprung on the drink worthwhile.
Did I mention that their wifi was super fast? A real treat when full-time RV’ing!
All in all though, this was definitely a unique experience and we were very glad to have stumbled upon it!
So…are you as thirsty as I am now?