It's open today, the new 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea. You know, the newly redesigned ... well, I won't call it a green mermaid, so the new cafe "inspired by Starbucks," complete with its own website and Twitter feed. I stopped in this morning for coffee, and took some pictures (after the jump).
My first thought, upon seeing the door, was to snicker. Then I pulled it open and walked inside.
My second thought was, fuck, they did a niiiiiice job. The store's beautiful: reclaimed school-assembly seats, tables made out of ancient planks, patches of bare concrete and light. That's what happens when you have millions of dollars to spend on interior decorators.
Linda Derschang says she's not going to sue Starbucks -- there's no way she could patent her look, anyway -- but it's clearly ripped straight from her imagination.
Derschang isn't the only one who "inspired" the corporation. Starbucks has incorporated into the new cafe every signifier of Third Wave coffee shops that it can possibly think of. It's almost overkill. Coffees with estate name: check. Your choice of pour-over coffees (cone filters) and Clover: check. Daily cuppings at 10 a.m., tea tastings at the front, barista with fauxhawk: yes, all there. The only truly Starbucksian touch was the crowd of very eager corporate types, proudly lurking around the room, darting in here and there to make comments to the staff. One of them even held a bouquet of green balloons, probably for some apron-type appreciation ceremony whose value outsiders will never get.
I thought it would look more like the Epcot Center version of a Third Wave coffee shop, but really, they did a fantastic job. If I spotted this cafe anywhere but Capitol Hill, I would consider hanging out here. But there's one area in which Starbucks can't compete. I ordered a cup of Casi Cielo made with the Clover ($2.15 with tax) and took one sip of the thin, one-and-a-half-note brew. It was definitely better than your average tall drip from Starbucks -- but when it comes to delivering the goods, nearby Victrola, Vita, Fuel, Vivace, Porchlight, and Stumptown have nothing to worry about.