Photo: LadyDucayne, Flickr
The brand-new Roy Street Coffee & Tea, open since November, is a unique prototype for a café concept from Starbucks. In addition to the typical coffee and espresso drinks under the Starbucks brand, now beer and wine are being poured as well. Yes, that's right: You can now upgrade from a Venti Mocha to a Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel or Silver Cap Brut. Many Washington and Oregon wines are on the wine list too. Specialty beers, ranging from Chimay Blue to Snoqualmie Wildcat IPA, are available as well. All to be sipped while listening visiting musicians or watching the monthly film series.
It's a move to bring Starbucks up a notch as they struggle to take the lead over other coffee chains like Peet's Coffee & Tea, Dunkin Donuts, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and even McDonald's, where the line for a cup of joe is only getting longer -- and the competition steeper.
Roy Street Coffee & Tea appears to be much like the experimental restaurants Starbucks launched in the San Francisco Bay Area during 1999, called Circadia. The eateries only lasted a short while but during their peak were much like "Central Perk" on the television show "Friends." Singing songwriters performed acoustically; patrons could order salads or sandwiches or pasta dishes; beer and wine were served, and the Starbucks coffee drinks were there as well.
Coffee and tea cuppings each day (at 2 p.m.) at Roy Street strive to dole out a little education to customers who can also elect to drink their coffee from a more sophisticated brewing system, such as the Clover, manual pour-over, Synesso or French press.
But one of the more truly exciting changes is Starbucks' commitment to being green at Roy Street: low-flow toilets and faucets; LED lamps; and low- or no-VOC paints, finishes and adhesives. Insulation inside the walls is a combination of post-consumer recycled glass and rapidly renewable materials.
Upcycling is part of it too. Most of the furnishings were bought from local vintage and antique stores instead of big-box wholesalers (the pieces get a bit of reupholstering with fabric acquired from worn-out pieces at other Starbucks locations). The front doors were salvaged. Slate from a local high school, combined with steel from a local shipyard, is now the bar. And instead of ordering a bunch of track lights, Starbucks worked with local artists to create custom light fixtures, or rewired others found in salvage shops.