A view from a Starbucks? Is the question even relevant? In August, our Segway tour guide in West Seattle gave us a tip. If we didn’t want to pay $12.50 for the pleasure of riding to the 73rd floor of Columbia Center for the view, purportedly better than the one from atop the Space Needle, you can look down 40 floors for free while sipping coffee at the Starbucks store there. You don’t get the panoramic view that you would at the top since there are windows only on two sides. If you look to your left out the northwest-facing window, you can get a good view of Elliott Bay, docked ferry boats and the Olympic Mountains.
Before he bought Starbucks, the store used to be one of Howard Schultz’s Il Giornale coffee houses. Like a typical Italian caffé, customers would order coffee and stand at a bar to drink it, compatible with the hurried professionals who work in Columbia Center. It is now a more traditional Starbucks with places to sit down and admire the view, especially on clear days.
We enjoyed our breakfast here simply because of the setting. My daughter has long been on a harangue that Starbucks served the worst pastries of any coffee house in Seattle. Then, Starbucks purchased La Boulange in August to supply the coffee chain with high-quality pastries. As part of the seasonal offerings, we tried the pumpkin cheesecake croissant (☆☆). While it tasted of nutmeg, it was not in the least flaky as a good croissant should be. If it seems I’m dissing all Starbucks’ pastries, the double chocolate meringue cookie (☆☆☆½) I had at the Ballard store last week was really good.
Incidentally, it’s really easy to get here by bus. Many lines, including ours, stops right in front (4th Ave and Cherry stop).
Note: I didn’t realize this until later, but there is also a Clover machine here, only available in select stores. It makes short-order coffee using a vacuum-press technology. Depending on the coffee variety, the machine will digitally dispense hot water at an ideal temperature and steep the grounds for an optimal length of time. The coffee is then pulled into the cup by vacuum pressure through a micro-filter so fine that the usual oil rings produced by plunger pots are eliminated. I sampled a cup of Sulawesi at the Ballard store last week and found the brew to be smoother and better tasting than Starbucks’ traditional drip method.
Starbucks Columbia Center
4824 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118