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Capitol Hill food+drink | Honor Coffee’s path to China goes through 15th and Pine

“If we do it here, we can do it anywhere.”

Honor Coffee and Tea has been open in Seattle for two weeks and is already setting its sights on international expansion to China.

27-year-old CEO Hana Hu isn’t getting any younger.

“At the end of this year, we hope to have four stores open,” Hu said. “We’re building out spaces, singing leases. Next year, 10 to 20. We want to perfect the model here. If we do it here, we can do it anywhere.”

With a high level of cafe density, Capitol Hill does seem to be an excellent proving ground. Honor is set to open one of its next wave of stores at 15th and Pine in the space left empty by the exit of the Zaw pizza chain.

Hu tells CHS she is in the middle of her first weeks as a global coffee chain CEO but expects that Honor’s focus on community and service will be the keys to success here — and beyond.

“We’ve all been to places where the place makes you feel good. Coffee places that feel some kind of connection,” Hu said.

“People in China still worship Starbucks. The service industry doesn’t exist. We hope to change that,” she said.

When it comes to international expansion, Hu will have help on the ground. She is partnering with her cousin in China to make the venture happen, she said.

But first they want to get things right at KOMO Plaza and up on Capitol Hill.  “We want to go into neighborhoods where we can bring people together,” Hu said.

The cafes are being designed to be inviting and to share signature elements like curves that echo “the Honor wave” in the company’s logo. The Capitol Hill location comes with a large walk-in that will allow Honor to add kegs and tap lines for beer and cider. A liquor license is planned along with later hours.

Eventually, Honor wants to roast its own beans but, for now, the company’s coffee also has a Capitol Hill connection. Hu is working with Victrola because “it’s how we would want to approach being a roaster.”

“With beans, we want to work with people who are intentional like us,” she said.

So, could Capitol Hill be the gateway to a new international coffee empire? Hu hopes to open the new cafe at 15th and Pine by the end of the year and begin to find out.

As a Capitol Hill resident, she knows what she’s up against. “The Hill is very challenging — it’s not very forgiving.”

Hu hopes the neighborhood will respond to Honor’s openness and invitation to enjoy coffee.

“It’s our honor to serve you,” Hu said.

Honor Coffee is planned to open by the end of the year at 1424 E Pine. You can learn more at

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

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  • 12th Ave’s Juicebox is celebrating Halloween with a witchy brunch:Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
    juicebox gets spooky during halloween brunch
    on october 31, 2015 from 10am to ­5pm, juicebox cafe (located at 1517 12th ave) will be hosting an all day halloween­ themed brunch service during our normal business hours. think smoking cauldrons, black juice potions (activated charcoal), a carved pumpkin altar, lots of halloween themed­ specials, and mini­ astrology readings. we are also giving out free beet juice shots to any customer dressed in costume! see what tricks you can learn by treating yourself to mini­ astrology readings from 11am ­1:15pm with stephanie gailing of planetary apothecary.
  • Don’t forget. It’s your last week to say goodbye to Momo and TNT Espresso.
  • Rancho Bravo’s drive-thru? Still coming:IMG_9661


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5 years ago

The Honor Coffee interior is a blatant rip off of a Starbucks, down to the Mermaid hair brand patterned metal on the wall…be prepared for a lawsuit / cease and desist letter from Howard and Co..

4 years ago
Reply to  ebe

That’s actually not true, Ebe.

As the designer I can tell you the metal interior waves pattern come directly from a pattern I made from elements of the Honor logo (the double line). And if you look closer, you’ll notice that it’s a completely different wave pattern than the pieces found in the Starbucks siren.


4 years ago
Reply to  ebe

…indeed, there are some similarities. A wave is a wave, I guess. Cafe interiors change so often, I’m not sure Howard’s team will bat an eye, especially since they don’t own the wave pattern.

5 years ago

Ha! My bet is daddy is paying for all of this. Good thing she’s hired some good folks who know a think or two about coffee. But she {Hanna} will learn that the food service industry is hard work and the profits are very slim, especially in Seattle. But my other guess is this is venture is her path to US Citizenship, Hello EB-5! Just happy to see she didn’t go with Vita!

5 years ago
Reply to  CDRyan

Wow. There is literally not a single sentence in the entire article that states she is not an American citizen. Furthermore, you are assuming she doesn’t have any coffee or food industry experience. I know head roasters and managers who are younger than she is, so you can’t assume she doesn’t have food/business experience. Your comment is full of stereotypes.

5 years ago

What horrible (and in one case, racist) generalizations.