You may not see it start. And you may not notice as it catches on and momentum builds. But at some point, when a cultural movement or a trend takes hold and seems to abound everywhere, you may ask how this came to be. Where did this change or shift in our life style come from, where did it get its start. And how is it defined?
Our modern coffee culture in the US is such a phenomenon. How is it that so many of us have replaced the simple cup of coffee brewed in our own kitchens every morning for a daily ritual of $5 lattes and other assorted fancy espresso drinks. And we’re perfectly willing to shift and adjust our daily routines and morning commutes to incorporate these coffee drinks into our lifestyle. Somehow, we seem to have redefined coffee and how we integrate it into our daily lives.
If you’re wondering where this modern coffee culture in the US comes from, how it all got started, the answer is the Pacific Northwest, coffee culture central. Between Seattle and Portland, and surrounding cities and towns, the hundreds of distinctive coffee houses and specialty rosteries come together to form a most remarkable and passionate coffee culture phenomenon.
Most are aware that several large and famous retail coffee chains originate from the region including Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Tully’s Coffee. And to be fair, these companies have been important drivers behind the expansive coffee culture emergence throughout the US, exporting some of the indigenous and innovative coffee goodness that abounds in the Pacific Northwest.
Well I hate to break the news, but Starbucks doesn’t really define this remarkable coffee culture, at least not today. Starbucks certainly has its roots well founded in the Seattle coffee tradition, but those more influential beginnings go back almost thirty years. See “Starbucks History – A Tale of Innovation in the Coffee Industry“. Today, Starbucks has, by necessity, transformed into much more of a fast-food coffee drink specialist, running an impressive scaled-up operation with over 7,100 stores in the US and over 15,000 stores world wide.
The coffee culture that I’m referring to lives and breathes among the many independent specialty coffee houses and expert premium coffee roasteries that abound in the region. And more important, the passionate and creative coffee artisans behind these coffee establishments that push the envelope and define this dynamic and vibrant coffee culture that continues to evolve. And most important, the enthusiastic coffee customers that frequent these establishments and bring an unmistakable exciting energy to the table.
The best way I know to gain a better feel and understanding of “coffee culture central” is to take a look at some of the influential coffee roasteries and coffee houses that really stand out. And talk about some of the creative individuals that drive and contribute behind the scenes.
Over a series of articles and posts, I’m going to talk about some of the popular coffee houses and specialty roasters that help define coffee culture in the Pacific Northwest. It should be a lot of fun.
So stay tuned. And while your here, why don’t you go ahead and subscribe to the Gourmet Coffee Zone – Daily Blog so you can be sure not to miss out on the upcoming installments.