Starbucks' new concept

The other evening, after stopping for sushi with fellow MIM alumnus Cory Klatik, we were looking for some coffee down in the Pearl District. It was about 7pm, which meant that our choices for finding coffee close by were limited. We walked over to Caffè Umbria thinking it would be open until eight, but they now close at seven Monday through Wednesday.

Stymied in that effort, we decided to try the new Starbucks across from Powell’s Books. Cory knew it was open until 11pm, and since I hadn’t been there to check it out yet, I agreed.

If you haven’t heard, in an effort to increase late afternoon and evening sales, Starbucks has opened a few new concept stores where they sell beer and wine. The new Starbucks in the Pearl is the first of this type of store outside the Seattle area. The store’s interior design is quite a bit different than a typical Starbucks, with more wood paneling and lounge-style furniture. It has a nice ambience. Nonetheless, it is not so different that you forget you’re in a Starbucks.

More elegant, but still very familiar

For the first time ever, I tried a single-origin espresso at Starbucks—in addition to the regular espresso, they were also serving the Kenya. It was the first time I had ever seen a single-origin espresso available there, so I couldn’t help but try it. My first impression: if you are really craving a single-origin in the evening and Starbucks is your only option, pony up and spend the $9.00 for the single-origin Pinot Noir instead of espresso. Your money will be better spent. Trust me.

Another option would be to cross the street and go to the World Cup Coffee in Powell’s, also open until 11pm. You won’t find any single-origin espresso or comfortable chairs, but you will get better coffee.