Salvaged wood tables from an old ship, a rusty wired chandelier, repurposed wine crate shelving, old world maps, retired theatre seats - these are just some of the wonders that make Seattle's 15th Ave Coffee & Tea house a rustic eco-chic, caffeine-paradise. Bit what may come as a surprise is that the 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea Store (yes, this is the actual name) is the first opened eco-friendly ¨un-branded¨ Starbucks in Seattle. An initiative of Arthur Rubinfeld, president of Global Development, this particular store goes back to basics, giving locals and passers a little something more akin to traditional coffeehouses.
The 15th Ave Coffee & Tea Store’s atmosphere draws upon each of the recycled objects that make up its decor, telling a story from the past and welcoming locals to have a seat and enjoy a freshly roasted coffee i the present. Far from your everyday Starbucks, the coffee shop sells only manual machine-made espresso as opposed to the automated type found in Starbucks stores today. Locally baked artisan delights are displayed atop vintage wooden furniture, and some nights the store even hosts live music and poetry readings.
Although a large corporation is driving this local gem, this particular Starbucks branch manages to perfectly recreate the “fresh-from-the-field” atmosphere of their early days.
Starbucks branches worldwide pride themselves of reducing the impact of their stores, adopting many green initiatives, when possible. They use, or reuse, local constructing materials, paint and adhesives are low or no VOC, wood products are FSC certified (when available), they use LED (light emitting diodes) and CFL (compact florescent light) bulbs, the paper products including cup sleeves, napkins, shopping bags, pastry bags, brochures and drink carriers have some recycled content. We have already seen how Starbucks upholstered chairs with recycled coffee sacks in some stores, and the company already boasts a collection of LEED certified stores under their belt.
But off course not everyone is convinced – a number don’t believe the “eco-local factor” being portrayed and critics of the brand claim “local-washing” (similar to “green washing”), stating that “Starbucks is Starbucks” no matter how you dress is up.
All in all, we are happy to see a major multi-national business like Starbucks setting a good example and moving forward in terms of sustainability. We hope to see many other coffee and tea houses following suit.