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

Monday, June 28, 2010

Coffee facts

Every once in a while I receive interesting news about coffee, including its possible health benefits. Everyone loves to hear these facts, because we love coffee and it might give us a good reason to have another coffee break, hang out at a cafe, or to stop at yet another drive-through coffee stand. Although there are plenty of websites where you can find these same facts, Here are a few gleaned today from HealthSpring and WebMD

The neuroprotective antioxidant value of coffee is significantly (30 times the amount!) boosted by roasting it. (Refresher for those of you who are losing memory capacity despite coffee consumption: antioxidants are the compounds that protect our cells from oxidation - or rather, oxidative stress - and therefore, protect us from all sorts of health problems such as cancer, inflammation, and aging.) So you should roast your coffee rather than eat the green beans??

Coffee lowers the risk of gout. (I can't honestly say I've ever heard of someone having gout, but still...)

Lowers cholesteral

Caffeine protects against the death of red blood cells and resulting anemia.

Here are more nasty conditions they say we can avoid by drinking coffee: Parkinson's, colon cancer, liver cirrhosis, gallstones, asthma, diabetes, headaches, and tooth decay. The list is impressive and seems to go on and on.

Considering how many people drink coffee (400 billion cups of coffee is consumed each year), it's a wonder any of these conditions even exist.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What do bicycles have to do with coffee farming?

I am intrigued to hear of a program to help Rwanda coffee farmers by helping them buy bicycles. In an article in the Las Vegas Review Journal, columnist Ed Graney describes Kimberly Coats, a truly inspirational woman, and her mission to provide bicycles and improve the lives of these poor farmers.

Like anywhere, getting the coffee cherries quickly from the coffee fields makes the coffee more valuable and fetch a better price. In the article, Graney says that "bicycles are the central form of transportation for farmers," and that "most farmers use 50-pound bikes made of wood ... and push them for several miles at a time carrying more than 300 pounds of coffee cherries."

Phew! My whole body aches hearing that!

With an average annual income of $350 per family and bikes costing over $200, you can see the problem. Kimberly is helping to raise awareness of Project Rwanda, which is "committed to furthering the economic development of Rwanda through initiatives based on the bicycle as a tool and symbol of hope. [Project Rwanda's] goal is use the bike to help boost the Rwandan economy as well as re-brand Rwanda as a beautiful and safe place to do business and visit freely."

Read more about Project Rwanda here. Read Ed Graney's article here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


One of the things I think makes the drive-through espresso stand business so popular for budding entrepreneurs is that the buildings are manageably small. How much could go wrong with a 200 sq ft building? (Probably get an earful from that one!)

One of the photogenic qualities I captured over and over were the proportional relationship these buildings have in their surroundings. Not too many of them are actually in the published book, however, because I felt it would get redundant. Here's an alternate composition of one I did include in the book, but from a greater distance. It's in Spokane - Walnut Street Espresso.

Do you notice there are no cars? I sometimes had to wait quite a while to photograph drive-throughs without cars, for obvious reasons. In this shot, there are also no cars on the road between the buildings and me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

He has everything

It's hard to get a Father's Day gift for your Dad, because he has everything. Right? I'll bet he doesn't have a copy of Driven to Espresso. And I'll bet he'll love it!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Could I get a double-tall hay?

You know how some drive-throughs have dog biscuits on-hand for when dogs are in the car with their customers? What do you suppose the chances are that this drive-through had a handful of grass* on-hand for the occasional mule coming through? (note to mule owners: I don't have a clue what mules eat. Grass is an educated guess.) This is something I would not expect to ever see. This drive-through is more than likely in Salem, Oregon, based on the location of the blogger, but I would have guessed it would be Pennsylvania where the Amish still use horse-drawn wagons as their primary means of transportation.

In Driven to Espresso, there is a drive-through that is painted to look like a wagon, and there is also one that is an actual wagon, so I suppose this case of a wagon driving-through a drive-through lane makes it all complete.