Driven to Espresso: Drive-through Coffee Stands in the Northwest

If you think coffee culture is cool, you have come to the right place. I have loads of information and opinions to share about espresso in the Pacific Northwest, especially the drive-through phenomenon.

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Location: Edmonds, WA, United States

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Epicurean, circa 1973

I can't recall the very first time I tasted coffee. Most likely it was when I was very young and sitting in my Dad's lap after dinner. I doubt that I liked it much, and probably not solely because it was instant, but it was such a grown-up flavor! It had at least that much going for it. That would have been in the late 50s.

I do, however, remember about when I first tasted espresso. That was much later, when I was in college at the University of Cincinnati. My girlfriend (now my wife) and I were introduced to it by a friend of ours (thanks Richard!) late one night after an evening of music and drinking beer. We did that occasionally. Once the bars closed there were few places we could go—other than home to bed, that is. One was Skyline Chili, a Cincinnati phenomenon and another whole story, and another was Buskin Bakery which, as I recall, was open all night while they were concocting their goodies. The third place was the Epicurean in Mt. Adams.

Mt. Adams has always been a particularly cool neighborhood in Cincinnati and is also one of the oldest. It sits perched on a steep hill adjacent to the downtown. Like much of the overall atmosphere of that neighborhood, the Epicurean was small, eclectic, and open late. That was where we learned about the super strong coffee served in tiny cups. Just the thing after our night of consumption. It was quiet and cozy and we'd sit there exploring their menu of coffee drinks, loud rock music still ringing in our ears.

All of these memories came back to me the other day because my wife asked me if I knew of any coffeehouses open late in Seattle. I couldn't think of any. I mean truly late. For example, The Wayward Coffeehouse calls itself "Greenwood's ONLY late night coffeehouse" but 11 pm isn't the kind of late night I'm talking about. I can't attest to the late hours Cafe Allegro may have had back when it first opened in 1975, and would have been the equivalent to the Epicurean for U Dub students, but its current closing time is a mere 10:30. The Bauhaus on Capitol Hill is open till 1 AM—much better.

Maybe there are true late-night cafes around Seattle, but frankly, my late nights are not what they once were, and I haven't devoted much enthusiastic energy trying to find them all. It would be swell if some of my readers would clue me in on the late-night coffeehouse scene here. Don't misunderstand me—I'm not saying I'd frequent such a coffeehouse at those hours anymore. I'm just not sure there are any in the first place. And anyway, for me the Epicurean will always have their unique spot in my love of coffee.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Trying Google AdWords

I got a free offer from Google to try out AdWords for awhile, so it's up and running. I did some searches related to coffee, etc, and it displays my ad! Now I wait for all the click-throughs. If you've been thinking about doing this, it is really easy and you only pay for the clicks and you set a budget up front. I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Could be a little more to it than this

A recent blog I read suggests that opening and operating a coffee stand is pretty simple. According to the author you just need a street corner with some traffic, a special blend of coffee, and some employees. It also says you can even build the stand yourself to save money. It even has a simple idea of why you might want to open one--coffee is your favorite drink, so of course you want your own coffee shop! Really? Well, if you are a coffee stand owner, or have been planning one, you can probably add some more reasons, advice, and requirements from your own experience.

There are many reliable sources of information for starting and running a coffee stand and I advise people who are considering doing that to do lots of research and maybe hire a consultant who has a track record of helping to start successful stands. If you can find someone who has experience in your specific location, all the better--although if you live outside the Northwest, that may not be possible.

In addition to researching the structural, business, legal, financial, and other requirements, you could use Driven to Espresso to help you think "outside the box" when it comes to the style of architecture you choose. These days, a simple "box" may not be enough to grab the attention of the passersby.

I get asked now and then to recommend consultants, architects, builders, etc. but I am sorry to say I don't have very direct experience in starting or running a stand myself. There were some key individuals who helped me write my book, and their names are included in the book. They naturally welcome inquiries, and I can say that I think they are some of the best experts in the field, for what it's worth. They certainly know more than the blogger I mentioned above!

Monday, February 01, 2010

The Bloomsbury Review

I'm so, so pumped up today! I just received a copy of the 30th Anniversary issue of The Bloomsbury Review and Driven to Espresso has gotten a superb review! I'll add it to my website's Review page later today so you can read it, but here's a brief quote: "Just the ticket for java lovers and the architecturally curious."

One of the extra bonuses of the review is that they specifically point readers to this blog as well as my Tweets. Phew! I'm finding it hard to breathe.