Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room: Every Cup They've Ever Served Has Led Them Astray
As a former Starbucks barista, I was looking forward to our trip to Seattle. Over our Christmas vacation, My Person and I visited the Motherland, if you will. However, the Seattle Starbucks experience left quite a bit lacking.
We knew that the original Starbucks location at the Pike Place Market would be busy, so our plan was just to swing by and peek in the window. Just as my former co-workers had informed me: the location was smaller than you'd expect, but cozy. Most importantly, the line was out the door by at least 60 people.
No worries for us. We were heading nine blocks east to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room at 1124 Pike Street.
We arrived a little after 7pm. The first impression was incredibly positive. The building exterior was gorgeous. The Siren above the double door entrance was impressive. Once inside, I noticed how pleasantly low the lighting was. This created a warming effect between the copper machinery and the various wooden walls, bars, furniture and other decor. Visually, I was charmed.
Until I had to stand in line. Now this line was not long at all. We had 8-10 people ahead of us, but it took about 20 minutes for us to reach the counter. The logistical problem is that this Roastery has its own version of the Starbucks menu, which is available on a clipboard at the counter. No one's handing out the clipboards; they just inefficiently wait for people to approach the counter.
I'm guessing that some Starbucks executive thought placing the menus on the clipboards looked quaint and would encourage more interaction with the baristas. Unfortunately, the baristas were so rushed, the interaction with them was completely artificial.
I smiled at the perky barista who welcomed us to the Roastery. I held up my Starbucks Gold Card and asked if I might use my two free drinks, one was my birthday drink.
However, she did inform us that we would earn more stars in the Starbucks loyalty program by purchasing tonight. Great, until she rang up our four items as one order, which meant we got one star. Thanks super special highly trained coffee master barista artificially perky girl!
While we were ordering, other customers came up to the counter looking for the menu. Even though perky barista was in the middle of explaining how Grande is the largest drink size they have, she broke off mid-sentence and addressed the wandering customers. I guess straying from the Starbucks line is unauthorized.
Such confusion and for no reason. If they just displayed the menu clipboards at the start of the line, people could grab one to peruse while they waited.
Once perky barista got those customers some clipboards, one of her co-workers needed to speak to her. By the time she addressed us again, My Person and I were ready. No more questions to delay this process.
We decided to stick to tradition and get our usual drinks. He got a latte and I ordered a mocha. For here. With two cookies. Spent just under $20. Earned one star.
Now we shuffled over to the hand-off zone. We're looking around trying to identify a place a sit. This Roastery was spacious, almost cavernous. Right down to the high ceilings.
I know open space floorpans are popular, but they annoy me. Every voice is amplified and the music just blares right on through that attempt at conversation.
My Starbucks experiences have always been much cozier. Sure, the occasional jerk may yammer away on a cell phone or a group of people may spend over an hour gossiping loudly about topics that are better left for quieter conversations in someone's home, but overall, time spent in Starbucks coffee shops has usually been pretty quiet.
This Roastery, though, was obnoxiously loud. We noticed the library. A smaller room with a wall of bookcases and one set of stairs to reach the upper level. Really, the stairs were there to make the room look more refined than it really was.
However, there was a lovely wood conference table that looked particularly inviting since no one was seated there.
The cookies were announced first. And by announced I mean that a timid barista meekly said my name. Can't see how she'll ever go wrong! To amp up the sophisticato vibe, they placed the cookies on a wooden tray. Fancy! I was just glad that they didn't forget the pastries.
About 6-7 minutes later and our drinks were ready. We headed over to the library and just as we're quietly sitting down, a group of four Millenials decided to sit at the opposite end of the table. They were complaining about how loud it was in the rest of the Roastery, which was hilarious since they were practically yelling at each other in the smaller space.
Ah well. Listening to four obnoxious people retelling drinking stories in a small space was much more akin to my typical Starbucks experience, so I decided to enjoy the company of My Person and my coffee.
I looked down at my mocha and I noticed some lovely foam art. A heart. How sweet.
Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of foam. And mochas are not supposed to have foam. Just ignore!
We sat for a while sipping our drinks and nibbling our cookies. My Person and I always find something interesting to talk about, so blocking out the drunk story time was easy. Aside from the irritating foam, the mocha was yummy. As were both cookies.
On our way out, we decided to stroll through the retail section.
They're boasting that the items in this shop are unique, but I was not impressed at all. Some of the colors for the mugs looked like something you'd see at the Apple Store, which was completely incongruous with the warmer tones everywhere else. It felt like the retail section was an after-thought.
I picked up one tea towel. The price? $23.95.
A fabric shopping bag with a leather handle? $139.95.
The globules of pretension you need to wipe off as you leave? Free.