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Aug 9, 2009 06:57 AM

What/Who/Why started the coffee revolution in Seattle?

Just spent a few days in Seattle and was wondeirng what started the coffee revolution in Seattle? There are coffee shops everywhere and a Starbucks on every corner!

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  1. I would attribute it to the Elliott Bay Bookstore starting in the early late 1970's. The downstairs restaurant and coffee shop is a refuge from the rain and a great gathering place for friends and booklovers. I believe the bookstore provided the perfect venue for people to enjoy coffee, books and conversation--and still does.

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    1. re: Leper

      Elliott Bay deserves a serious acknowledgment, yes. There have been, though, others in the game. I remember studious (or not so much) evenings at the Last Exit on Brooklyn (on, of course Brooklyn Avenue), which filled this very role, though might-be lost in the vintage haze.

    2. Go to Pike Place Market, where I, my mother, and sisters went every week to shop for vegetables, and you will find Starbuck's #1. Starbuck's was a surprising new alternative to the big cans in the coffee aisle at Safeway. My mom, way too old to make a change like that, dontcha know, didn't, but I, introduced to Starbuck's in my weekly weekly wanderings of those stalls, did. It took a few years for me to be ready for coffee, but I arrived, and with my cohort, and we made a new attitude toward coffee. Some of us became Starbuck's, in the corporate sense. Others created new roasteries. Others opened coffee shops. More of us became drinkers at those coffee-taps. The roasters may, and not entirely without justification, feel ownership of credit, as might those primordial shops, perhaps with even greater justification, but I believe it is we, who drank, and drink, that coffee, who made this the mecca it is. Enjoy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mrnelso

        My understanding is that Gordon Bowker's experience with the original Peet's Coffee in Berkely had something to do with the creation of Starbuck's.

        1. re: forkit

          From Wikipedia: The original Starbucks was opened in Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, in 1971 by three partners: English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegel, and writer Gordon Bowker. The three were inspired by Alfred Peet (whom they knew personally) to sell high-quality coffee beans and equipment. From 1971–1976, that first Starbucks was at 2000 Western Avenue; it then was relocated to 1912 Pike Place, where it remains to this day. During their first year of operation, they purchased green coffee beans from Peet's, then began buying directly from growers.