For years, Starbucks has tried hard to create a brand where every coffee shop would be unique, yet still have the same vibe. If someone was to blindfold you and take you into one, you’d might know where you were just by the music that was being played. But that’s not the case with the brand-new Starbucks Reserve store in SoDo. If you’re ready to kick your Starbucks habit up a notch, read on for the scoop and get ready to be ahh-mazed.

Location, Location, Location! 
Located on the ground floor of Starbucks’ global headquarters sits the very first Starbucks Reserve store which is unlike any other Starbucks you have ever been to. The first thing you’ll notice when walking through the larger-than-life swinging glass doors is just how massive this place is. And how packed with people it is. (Not crowded, just a lot of people.) It also appears that the ratio between customers and staff is one-to-one with the number one goal: excellent customer service!

Attention to Detail
With its high wooden ceiling, walnut beams, rich colors and attention to detail, this place is beautiful. In the center of the space, you’ll find a round fireplace blazing away and an adjacent wall solely decorated with boxes of tea. There is also an area with larger tables that can be used as a meeting space. And throughout the Reserve, tables and chairs of different sizes and shapes are spread out which gives the space more of a restaurant/lounge feel.

This Ain’t Your Average Starbucks Store
Unlike your neighborhood Starbucks, you won’t find a single green apron here, only brown aprons and only the best of the best baristas. On a recent visit to the mega store, Jamie Evans and Tyler Miller told us that each of them came from their own neighborhood store. After years of learning as much as she could about coffee from her old store, Miller was thrilled to work at the Reserve so she could keep learning about the different types of beans, roasting processes and beverages. Evans and Miller also told us that the employees who work at the Reserve store do so because they really love coffee!

Where’s the Menu Board?
At the Reserve store, you won’t find a single counter to order your favorite brew. You’ll find several of them. And you won’t find a menu board either. Instead, you’ll find actual menus with a list of different coffee beverages you didn’t even know existed. Prepare to take some time to read the different descriptions. We tried the Cold-Pressed Ginger Fizz which is described as containing ginger ale with a splash of whiskey barrel-aged vanilla syrup, a bit of grapefruit bitters and then topped with cold-pressed espresso. It’s a taste that is hard to describe. Not too sweet, but very unique and pretty to look at.

Pull Up a Seat at the Counter 
Coffee is not served in paper cups here, at least it’s not if you are planning on staying a while. Sit at the counter or take a seat anywhere in the space, they will find you. They have their ways. Want a shot of entertainment with your espresso? Pull up a stool at the Craft Bar and check out what Starbucks likes to describe as “the height of coffee brewing theater.” One counter features four spouts that shoot out Cold Brew Coffee, Nitro Cold Brew, Nitro Tea and Nitro Milk which is used to make a Draft Nitro Latte, the counterpart of the common hot beverage that has been infused with nitrogen. Further down the bar is where you’ll find the Mixology Bar, where Italian and locally sourced liquor is present. Yes, we said liquor!

Breads and Pastries and Baked Goods. Oh My! 
The new Reserve store has partnered with Princi Bakery which bakes its delicious breads and amazing pastries right here, every day. Sweet and savory items like cinnamon rolls, cornetti and focaccia sandwiches can be found alongside an assortment of soups and salads. And the back wall, decorated with whole loaves of fresh bread, are also available for sale. Psst…we were told by a Reserve employee that the pizzas, made just before noon, are absolutely incredible.

But Wait. There’s More! 
In the front of the store is where you’ll find all kinds of gifty type items including coffee-making supplies, mugs, t-shirts, aprons and other items you won’t find in your neighborhood Starbucks store. Browse the selection and pick up a gift for the coffee connoisseur in your life.

This is the Start of Something Really Big
The company has plans to open up about 1,000 other Reserve locations worldwide, but some people just can’t wait. One employee told us during our recent visit that people have been coming from all over the states and Canada just to see what this whole new marketplace-styled space is about.

Starbucks Reserve Store
2401 Utah Ave. S.
Seattle, Wa 98134
206-749-5925
Online: starbucks.com

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Hours: Mon.-Fri., 6 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

Have you visited the new Starbucks Reserve store? What do you like most about it? Tell us in the comments below.

—Jeffrey Totey (all photos courtesy of the writer)

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