One of the best things about local, independent coffeehouses is the unique experience they offer their communities. In Seattle, for example, Ancient Grounds is the epitome of self-expression. Fommer’s (www.frommers.com) said “Ancient Grounds is hands down the coolest and most unusual espresso bar in Seattle.” No THAT says something being in the hometown of Starbuck’s.
Rolland, the owner, is deeply passionate about his coffee and his ancient artifacts from around the world. The masks from various native culture surround the space and make one feel comfortably observed.
Inside Ancient Grounds, Seattle WA
In our conversation, he shared his biggest challenge in owning a coffeehouse ~ good, trustworthy staff. He has opted to run the entire business himself. He is open Tuesday-Saturday and takes a two days to refresh. In between preparing espressos for the customers that come in from his 1st Avenue location in Downtown, he trades his artifacts online with people he has met in his international travels.
According to him: the best part of his coffeehouse? The people. He fully enjoys being of service in the world. Rolland even hand-writes thank you notes to his guests and customers, personal and from the heart. He called it his “integrity homework”. How does it get any better than this? :)
One pointer he would give to a someone considering opening a new coffeehouse is to diversify the offerings, even if it is to merge it with a business completely different from coffee. After 14 years of operating Ancient Grounds, it should prove to be some sound advise.
You can find Rolland at:
1220 1st Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
Jason Gray is sorta like an icon in Castle Rock and I got to meet him!!
Now … that’s just based on me hanging out at his coffeehouse for a couple of hours drinking his personally roasted espresso and watching him greet his customers. He only roasts and serves the best coffee. There is a genuine sense of pride in his work that emanates from his being.
He has been in the coffee industry for about 30 year and got his start at Starbucks in Seattle in the 80′s. ”They had 25 stores back then”, he said. Then he traveled north to Alaska and spent many years with Kaladi Brothers beginnings and trained under Mark Overly now of Kaladi Brothers Colorado. In addition, he spent tons of time and gained the respect of the recently passed, coffee great, Michael Sivetz.
Jason opened Crowfoot Valley Coffee and Crow Bar Coffeehouse in 1999 and is ridiculously happy creating a place for people to come together and to serve them his finest roasted beans.
Gotta check out his shop, now serving a rotating selection of high-end craft beers:
Crowfoot Valley Coffee
734 Wilcox Street #102
Castle Rock, CO 80109
5 Independent Coffeehouses in Denver That Get Us Talking
EnCompass, The AAA Colorado Magazine, April 2012
By Tom Hess
Where do you get your caffeine fix? Do you sometimes venture beyond your usual source—the Keurig in the kitchen, the McDonald’s drive-through, or the Starbucks at Safeway?
We’ve noticed independent coffeehouses all along the Front Range gaining notoriety and enticing new customers by offering craft local roasts, alternate brewing methods, milk alternatives (almond, rice and soy), creative menus, local artwork and brainiac, blogging baristas.
So we asked ourselves, what attributes of an independent coffeehouse motivate members of the EnCompass team to venture out?
Read the rest of this entry
While traveling across the US visiting local coffeehouses, I get to see lots and lots of trains, both moving and retired. This has given me time to dream of the possibilities of building a house out of old train cars and cargo containers … the ideas are so much fun to conceptualize. Who wants a ho-hum house when you can live in something unique that is cool enough to also use recycled material?
Here is one way to make it happen … AND by serving the almighty-coffee out of its belly, it’s even better!
by Dear Coffee, I Love You
On December 13, just south of Starbuck’s hometown of Seattle, a new drive-thru location opened up in Tukwila, Washington. Unlike the other 17,000 locations though, this one is built from reused shipping containers. Green architecture isn’t new for Starbucks, last year they began opening LEED certified cafés around the world, but this is the first one utilizing cargotecture—the reuse of cargo shipping containers for architecture.
Starbuck’s isn’t the first coffee company to use shipping containers (Illy previously used a transforming shipping container as a café at the Venice Biannale and Ritual Proxy opened this summer in San Francisco) nor is their architect the first to design with them—though they speak as if they were: ”We were able to open our minds to the use of very common elements destined for the landfill as structure for a high-quality, drive-thru coffee house design – essentially creating an industrial beacon for sustainable thinking.” –Tony Gale III
I’m a big fan of shipping container architecture and applaud reuse in any form—however, I find it ironic that the modest green giant’s “beacon for sustainable thinking” is a drive-thru coffee shop in the suburbs. Maybe the sheer spectacle will introduce a unique perspective to a new audience, but I don’t see how a line of idling cars waiting for their trenta ice coffee is a beacon for anything other than the worst of American consumerism and suburban sprawl.
For being as large as Starbucks is, they aren’t entirely bad. I may not like their coffee, but I also won’t deny the trail they blazed for specialty coffee or the sustainability efforts they do make. Sadly, the reality of being a publicly-traded company too often encourages them to make decisions that counter all of their positive efforts (like joining the K-Cup trend) for the sake of maximizing profits.
In the long run, if this prototype became the new format for all future drive-thru locations, it could reduce the use of virgin material in construction and inspire other large companies to follow suit. But please Starbucks, show a bit of humility—shipping container architecture is not a Starbucks invention, nor is roasting “light.”
More photos and an interview with Starbucks on Inhabitat