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

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Coffee with a purpose

I have read in several articles that the coffee industry is recession-proof. Even during the recent rise in wholesale and retail coffee prices, consumption has increased. This is a remarkable testimony to the depth of our need for coffee.

So, it is not at all surprising to me to see new coffee stands still popping up in the Northwest. I recently passed one in Enumclaw. After driving a few blocks past it, I had to turn around and drive back to it. The sign on the stand said Mission Creek Coffee - Coffee with a Purpose, and I just had to know what the purpose was!

It turned out that one of the owners, Walt Pulliam, was there and happily outlined his goals for the business.

Mission Creek Coffee is donating five cents to Fisher House for every cup of coffee-based drink, tea drink, or blended drink that they sell. Fisher House is a nationwide nonprofit organization that helps military families by providing a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and Veterans Administration medical centers. You could compare the Fisher Houses with Ronald McDonald houses in some respects. Mission Creek Coffee is helping with the Seattle location in particular. Besides the monetary donation they are making, they also provide coffee, a coffee blend of their own that comes from Wilkeson’s Buono Coffee Company.

Mission Creek Coffee has the goal of opening more coffee stands that will be adjacent to military bases with military spouses as primary candidates for baristas. Walt says, "We are also looking for a charity that deals with homeless women veterans with kids. The need is increasing, and to date we have not heard of one nor found one through our online searches." I am sure he would appreciate an email if you know of one.

To learn more about Fisher House you can visit their website.

Mission Creek Coffee is located at the corner of Farman Road and state Route 410 in Enumclaw.

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

7 reasons to start a drive-through coffee stand instead of a cafe

1) Much less investment. The average is around $50,000, but can be lower. So the return on investment is much higher, it's easier to get a bank loan, and faster to pay it off.
2) Lower operating costs. No big room to heat, no wi-fi network to pay for, no parking lot to maintain, etc.
3) Can operate it and manage with an owner who is also the barista. It's possible to run the business with virtually no employees.
4) Easier to locate due to size. Most drive-throughs are simply leasing a small part of another business's parking lot. And wherever they are located, they are small. Some of them have only one-sided drive-ups, which makes their required space even less.
5) Can be moved. If you choose a bad location, it is easy to build a stand that can be picked up and moved.
6) Can focus on basics of making coffee, rather than comfy surroundings. No need for coordinating artists who want to hang their art on your walls, no need to provide and clean a restroom for customers, no need to clean up after customers' messiness.
7) No need to accommodate customers who aren’t really customers, but just like to write their blogs while sitting in your cushy chairs.