A Brief History of Coffee in Seattle [5 parts]

I’m not sure if you know this, but Seattle consumes more coffee than any other American city. Shocking, I know. Most residents in this town spend an average of $40 on coffee a month which is no wonder when you find out it’s nearly impossible to walk a city block in the metropolitan area and not pass a cafe of sorts.

  1. Starbucks, 1970
    In case you didn’t know, Starbucks was founded in the Emerald City. While you can hardly walk a block without coming across a cafe in Seattle, you can scarcely walk a block in any city without passing at least 2 Starbucks Coffees.
    Starbucks was once a humble roaster which then became an espresso bar that has evolved to become the world’s largest coffee retailer. While I’m not the biggest fan of Starbucks coffee (their drinks are either too sweet or taste burnt to me), I am proud to boast Seattle as their birthplace.
  2. Tully’s, 1992
    In the face of the behemoth that is Starbucks, Tully’s opened in order to bring some much-needed competition to the market (and the area of Seattle). While Starbucks has become a polished version of a coffee shop/drive-thru hybrid, Tully’s has maintained the cozy vibe of a small coffee house by keeping overstuffed armchairs and usually fireplaces in their locations.
  3. Coffee appreciation
    Much like wine, coffee drinkers can be trained to enjoy the more delicate nuances of a roast. The popular Victoria Coffee Roasters often has classes on Coffee Appreciation. But if you’ve ever worked at a coffee house or had a friend who’s a total coffee snob (much like myself) you’ll be trained pretty quickly in how to identify good coffee and appreciate the notes.
  4. Last Exit on Brooklyn
    Coffee culture is and always will be interesting. While wine and beer have their own culture, that which surrounds coffee is much different. While Last Exit is now closed, it was once a place popular amongst chess players, students, intellectuals, and anyone who’d like to think of themselves as belonging to one of these groups. This place felt much like a salon of the olden days where intellectuals would gather to discuss the news of the day or deeper philosophical issues.
  5. Fraiser 
    If you haven’t seen Fraiser, you’re missing out. If you like friends – much like most of the population- you’ll love this show. It’s chock full of dry humor and coffee culture. Fraiser and his family and friends are often shown as meeting in this coffee shop called the Cafe Nervosa (which is rumored to be based on the real-life Elliott Bay Cafe).
    Coffee culture is so deeply engrained in this city that it would be preposterous for a tv show set in the city to not feature a coffee shop as one of its main reoccurring sets.