First Impressions: Notes from Roy Street’s opening

When CHS first walked into Roy Street Coffee and Tea this morning shortly before 7 am, the place was bustling.

See pictures of the opening here.

According to Major Cohen, Senior Project Manager and a key proponent of these “inspired by Starbucks” cafes,  the first group to arrive were the coffee nerds (our characterization – not his).  Many in the group were excited to try the Panama La Esmeralda (CHS sampled this brew and it was one of the best cups of coffee we’ve had in a while) and other Clover beans.  As we searched for a table, a bunch of them were excitedly discussing coffee, machinery and methods at a communal table.  The morning crowd was composed of Starbucks corporate family members (those visiting from corporate included CEO Howard Schultz ), well-to-do older couples from North Capitol Hill, curiosity seekers, I-5 shores residents and those of us in search of good coffee and free wi-fi.

Starbucks PR agency Edelman emphasized to us that this is the second LEED certified Starbucks store and that all of Starbucks new stores henceforth will aim to be LEED certified.  For you trivia hounds, the first Starbucks store to be LEED certified was in San Diego.  Liz Muller, who is chiefly responsible for the design of the store, acknowledged to us that many of the design elements in the store were inspired by the Loveless Building across the street.  The 3600 square foot space maintains flow and cohesion nicely for such an expanse.  The large windows take advantage of the view of the Loveless Building and the North Broadway street life.  Red and brown velvet curtains and fringed overstuffed velvet chairs lend a theatrical air to the place – but have the useful function of providing privacy and diminishing ambient noise.  Music hewed closely to adult contemporary with occasional hip hop and an alternative track or two thrown into the mix.

Similar to 15th Avenue Coffee an Tea, this is an “inspired by Starbucks” store.  Barristas do not wear Starbucks uniforms, the coffee and tea offerings are more extensive than at other Starbucks stores, and the bakery treats are from Essential.  Like 15th Avenue, Roy Street will offer daily cuppings (the ones here will be at 2 pm) and free wi-fi.  Note that, both 15th Avenue (as of two weeks ago) and Roy Street accept Starbucks cards.   One significant difference is that Roy Street is able to offer a larger food menu (their refrigeration area in this space holds more) – including Tom Douglas soups.

If you visit Roy Street, let us know what you think.  Some impressions from Twitter:

kevinseattle: checked it out this AM and was dissapointed how impressed I was. I think nearby local coffee shops really need to be worried :-(  

blinkity: Heading to Roy Street Coffee & Tea for the opening. The guilt is astounding. Thanks a lot @alexishope. At least @Barista_Alex won’t hate me.

smoovebcoffee: Less idiotic comments this time w/ Roy St Coffee. Locals get it-it’s not about media, just coffee and a space to enjoy it.

regenius: Guess what just opened in my hood? Another coffee shop. Roy St. Coffee inspired by Starbucks. Think I’ll stick w/ Joe Bar. #boycott


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13 thoughts on “First Impressions: Notes from Roy Street’s opening

  1. it’s really pathetic how much the Cap Hill idiots are gushing over a fucking coffee shop. It’s a coffee shop. Since you’re whoring for Starbuck’s, are you at least getting free coffee?

  2. it’s really pathetic you are whiney about other people gushing over a fucking coffee shop. It’s a coffee shop. Since you’re whoring for indie cafe, are you at least getting free coffee from them?

    you said it, troll – get back on your phag Mac

    it’s their money not yours, you commie!

  3. I think it’s a good thing that Starbucks is doing this. I always thought it was weird that every Starbucks had to look and feel alike. Why can’t we adopt the Taco Bell approach from Demolition Man? Different Taco Bell for different people, lifestyles and income. You have a Taco Bell serving only cheap pizzas, and an expensive Taco Bell steak house.

    The better question is… how is their coffee? Does it still taste like charcoal, or coffee flavoured milk with too much syrup? Their teas are also typically atrocious.

  4. That makes no sense. There is no ownership of corners. Businesses compete and the business that provides the most value for its customers will win.

  5. I completely agree with you! The smaller coffee houses need our support and they also add charm to the area and make better coffee!

  6. Let me start by saying that I haven’t been to this place yet, so my statement is based on the idea of what they are trying to achieve rather than the actual execution…

    I understand that, as snobby Seattlites, we’ve been conditioned to look down on Starbucks. I don’t even drink coffee and I can tell their coffee is terrible, and the cookie cutter look and feel of their stores makes them feel like the Wal Mart of coffee. However, it sounds like this new approach aims at giving coffee lovers the quaint coffeehouse look and feel that we appreciate in the ma and pa stores. It seems silly to say that you should boycott them and stick to smaller coffeehouses simply to preserve the spirit of the neighborhood when Starbucks is obviously making a good effort to celebrate that spirit. These initial reports even make it sound like they’re making an effort to fine-tune the coffee selection to the neighborhood. And don’t forget that it will likely be members of this neighborhood that work there.

    If you’re going to choose other coffeehouses over this one, do it because you like the coffee, employees, or atmosphere better. Not because it’s fashionable to hate Starbucks.

  7. Empirically speaking the place is really very nice. I was skeptical like everyone but was really pleasantly surprised at how cozy it is. And they serve beer and wine :-)

  8. Received this note today:

    Hi CHS editors:
    Wanted to clarify a point on the LEED certification for the Roy Street Coffee & Tea location. Roy St. is currently registered for LEED certification and we expect it will achieve certification in the next several months. Roy St. is the 8th Starbucks store to be built according to LEED standards, and it’s the 2nd to open as part of the LEED Volume Certification pilot. We’re going to build a minimum of 10 LEED Volume Certification pilot stores around the world over the next several months. This effort will help us reach our goal of achieving LEED certification for all new company-owned stores worldwide beginning in late 2010.

    Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any questions on the certification.


    Emily Killoren
    Edelman Seattle