Photo Tour: Inside Starbucks’ Massive Seattle Roasting Facility

by  Gowri Chandra | Jan 22, 2016

Less than two miles away from Starbucks’ original Pike Place Market store sits its latest Seattle location: a 15,000-square-foot-plus café, roastery, and packaging facility perched on Capitol Hill.

And despite a fanatical following and cookie cutter product model, Starbucks manages to give its Reserve and Roastery a refreshing, artisanal aesthetic. Here’s a look inside.

Upon entering, you’re met with a retail section to your right. The selection of coffee accessories is deliciously large, and even anti-corporate coffee loyalists may be tempted to pick up a designer mug or two.

Visitors can get a peek into various points of the coffee pipeline, from roasting to packaging to tasting. “The whole point of this place is transparency,” says employee Joshua Read. In keeping with the artisanal, industrial chic aesthetic, the options (and prices) are elevated as well -- think: iced espresso floats with mint and orange piloncillo syrup for your Americano.

A variety of coffee blends and brewing methods -- pourovers, Aeropress, and standard espresso machines -- makes this a Willy Wonka-like experience. Not sure what the difference is? Ask one of the 30 staffers and he or she will gladly explain it to you.

The roastery goes for a look that’s simultaneously warm and industrial chic. Andre Kim, senior concept designer for the store, sourced 95 percent of furniture from American materials, featuring walnut and teak from designers like Uhuru Brooklyn and Bassam Fellows.


We like slipping into the coffee library, where you can flip through java-related books while sipping a cup of your own. Here's where you'll get a bit of bird’s-eye view of the packaging and roasting operations from the second floor.

 Pro tip: Despite the massive floor plan, it can feel claustrophobic when it’s packed with tourists whose next stop is Pike Place Market. Visit early in the morning or before closing to linger over the beautifully designed space. If you can, be sure to snag a place by the fireplace -- perfect for chilly Pacific Northwest mornings.

In addition to the plethora of pastries and savory snacks they offer, the Roastery also shares a space with Seattle chef Tom Douglas’s pizza joint, Serious Pie. It’s the perfect place to come down from your coffee buzz.

Update, April 2016: Manhattan is set to get its own Starbucks roastery in 2018 -- and at 20,000 square feet, it'll be even larger than the one in Seattle.

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