Of Tulips and Coffee

After KC and I returned from Vancouver Island with my parents, we spent two more days with them before leaving for Portland, Oregon. One of those days was a lazy Sunday where we went to church with them in the morning and worked on a few chores in the afternoon. On Monday, the four of us decided to spend a day touring around Seattle and Skagit Valley. Although we saw a lot of Seattle and the surrounding area, I’ve highlighted below our visit to the Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room and the tulip farm in Skagit Valley.

Taken from my parent's back porch

Sunrise at my  parent’s back porch

The Roastery

I woke up late Monday morning and as a result, I rushed to get ready and to get out of the house with the rest of my family. We were driving down the road before I realized that in my rush, I hadn’t made any coffee to go. I asked my parents if they planned to stop for coffee and my dad told me to wait until we are in Seattle because he was going to take us to the Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room. So I waited.

The Iconic Picture

The Iconic Pike’s Market Sign

The ferry docked in Seattle and we wandered around Pike’s Market for an hour or so before we went to lunch. I was tempted to get a cup of coffee at the first Starbucks store, but waited. After the four of us had a great lunch, my dad said that it was finally time to go to the Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room. “Now you can have your cup of coffee,” he teased.

A Panoramic View of the Roastery and Tasting Room

A View of the Roastery and Tasting Room From the Entrance

Walking in the door of the Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room reminded me of the awe of walking into a toy store when I was a kid. There were two separate bars where they made the coffee drink and behind them was the roasting equipment. In this store, Starbucks roasts small batches of their reserve coffee beans. Unlike their mass production, where quality control is better achieved through burnt coffee beans, the coffee roasters roast batches of coffee beans to varying levels to bring out different flavors (this is the one place where not all the Starbucks coffee is burnt). Staff were stationed near the two big roasters, ready to answer coffee roasting questions. In the very back of the store was a coffee-roasting library, filled with books about coffee beans and roasting methods.

Starbucks Roasting Equipment

Roasting Equipment

Once we walked around the coffee roasters, asking questions and looking at the equipment, KC and I found two seats at the bar near the back, in front of the library. This bar’s particular menu listed the reserve beans and brewing methods. Coffee was available hot or iced with any of the six coffee brewing methods – Pour Over, Chemex, French Press, Siphon, Espresso, or Clover-Brewed. I choose a coffee bean and a method – Kona Parry Estate and Clover-Brewed. Soon, I had my long-awaited cup of coffee.

Sarah finally gets her coffee

Sarah finally gets her coffee

KC and I finished off our coffees and moved to the bar closest to the front of the Roastery and Tasting Room. This bar had freshly roasted coffee beans flowing from copper pipes attached to the ceiling into oddly shaped glass containers at the bar level. Hanging at the bottom of the container is a small chalkboard sign labeling the type of bean in the container. The whole set up gave off a steam-punk vibe.

Behind the bar

Behind the bar

This bar served specialty espresso drinks, not on the menu at other Starbuck stores, in addition to reserve coffee. KC ordered a shakerato (espresso shaken over ice with a hint of demerara syrup) and I ordered a sparkling mint iced coffee (espresso, mint and demerara syrup, served over ice with sparkling water). KC and I found a couch across from a fireplace, since there were no seats at the bar. I tried my sparkling mint iced coffee, unsure what to expect. The light sweet mint complimented the espresso’s dark earthy coffee flavor and the sparkling water gave the drink a fizzy texture, like a soda. KC’s shakerto was cold lightly sweetened espresso. Having seen the roasting equipment and tried both their coffee and espresso drinks, the four of us left the Roastery and Tasting Room more alert and with soon-to-be full bladders.

Our drinks from the Starbucks Reserve

Iced Mint Coffee (left) and the Shakerato (right)

If the first Starbucks store is a destination to see in Seattle, then the Roastery and Tasting Room is an experience to go with it. Besides the educational aspect of learning how to roast coffee and the different types of beans, there are new coffees and coffee drinks not often found on the menus of most coffee shops (like the iced mint coffee or the shakerato). Although I typically stay away from writing about big businesses (thereby advertising for them), I wanted to write about this Roastery and Tasting Room because it was such a unique experience. Few coffee sellers, Starbucks included, show their process of roasting their coffee beans and offer six methods for brewing coffee.

A Magical place

The Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room

 

The Tulip Farm

I have heard from my parents about the amazing Skagit Tulip Festival for years. During the spring, from April 1 to April 30, the tulip farms bloom, coloring the landscape in all sorts of vivid colors, including pinks, blues, yellows, greens, reds, and some dark purples that look almost black. A travel magazine that I once read claimed this festival as a wonder that must be seen. Unfortunately for KC and I, the higher than normal temperatures in the spring caused the tulips to bloom early in March and by the time we came to the area to see the tulips in mid April, most of the fields were dead and brown.

We had heard in town that there was one tulip farm left and so the four of us drove around Skagit Valley searching for it. We drove down several streets in the famous Skagit Valley and we saw empty field after empty field until we found one left, Roozen Gaarde.

One of the gardens in the Skagit Region

The Last Open Tulip Garden in the Skagit Valley

Colors in the garden we so vivid and beautiful. Roozen Gaarde had several garden displays, showing off their various types of tulips with different color combinations. While touring around the grounds, it was a temptation to take hundreds of pictures of the different types of tulips with all the variances in color (the pictures I have up in the Photo Journal only show a small amount of all the flowers at the garden).

Pink, Purple and White Tulips in the Skagit Region

Pink, Purple and White Tulips in the Skagit Valley

My dad lamented about the early blooming season. He told me that although this garden was beautiful, it pales in comparison to seeing the valley when all the flowers are blooming. “When all the fields are blooming, all you see around you are fields of color,” he explained wistfully. “We are only seeing a small fraction of the beauty of the Skagit Tulip Festival.”

Tulips in Lakers Colors

Tulips in Lakers Colors

Alas, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is still on my bucket list. We enjoyed the farm, but would want to see the Valley in its full colorful glory.

 

For More Information

For more information about the Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room: roastery.starbucks.com

For more information about the Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room: news.starbucks.com/news/starbucks-reserve-roastery-and-tasting-room

For more information about the Skagit Tulip Festival: www.tulipfestival.org

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