New Starbucks on 1st and University Joins Seattle’s Iconic Coffee Scene

Today (February 28), Starbucks opened its first Seattle store with a Reserve coffee bar on the corner of 1st and University in the city’s bustling downtown district.

The new store marries the third place experience with the educational aspects of the Seattle Reserve Roastery, and its rare, small-lot Reserve coffees. The result is a new experience for customers that incorporates an interactive space where baristas can bring the craft of coffee to life through brewing techniques such as Clover, pour over, press, chemex, siphon, Black Eagle manual espresso machine and six Nitro Cold Brew taps. Starbucks stores with a Reserve coffee bar will make up 20 percent of the company's store portfolio globally over time.

The 1st and University store joins beloved Seattle Starbucks locations that customers come to visit from around the world, including the first store in Pike Place Market, where they can experience a bit of history and the first Reserve Roastery, which roasts and packages small-lot Reserve coffees in full view.

“Seattle is where it all began, so it is exciting to bring this new store format to a city that knows us so well,” said Min Cho, Starbucks vice president of Design for the Western U.S., Canada and Licensed Stores. “We are learning a lot about integrating the Reserve bar into the third place environment and expect that its design will continue to evolve as we create new moments of connection over coffee.”

As with all Starbucks Reserve bar stores, the 1st and University location will offer the classic Starbucks menu in addition to featuring specialty beverages created at the Roastery, spotlighting Starbucks Reserve coffees. This includes The Melrose, which is Starbucks coffee mocktail version of the Manhattan and takes Reserve Cold Brew shaken with cherry bitters and finished with a maraschino cherry, and Classic Affogato, which takes Starbucks Reserve coffee poured over locally crafted Mora ice cream.

Creating the Atmosphere

The store design offers a casual Pacific Northwest ambiance mixed with mid-century modern tones, with a threaded ceiling that echoes the neighboring Harbor Steps. The location sits on the ground level of a residential tower, open to the street on two sides with expansive windows. The golden glow of siphon brewers on the bar beckon customers to come inside.

“We focused on preserving the bones of the space with the columns and the areas of concrete,” senior designer Bret Lewis said. “We tried to have some restraint, so we could highlight character elements. That’s true to Seattle – it has an elevated industrial vibe, but it feels warm.”

The design team also focused on the sensory experience.

“When you walk in, you’ll hear the grinding and tamping of coffee from the manual espresso machines,” Lewis said. “You’ll have a clear line of sight to the baristas with a long, low bar.”

Starbucks stores with Reserve coffee bars have already started coming to life in major U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Boston, and will make up 20 percent of its global store portfolio by 2021. Only one Reserve Roastery exists today in Seattle, and there are plans to open at least 20 around the world, including Shanghai, Tokyo, New York City and recently announced Milan. Each Roastery will serve as the foundation for Starbucks Reserve stores, the first of which will open in Seattle and Chicago in the second half of fiscal year 2017, with plans to open 1,000 or more globally over time.

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