Seattle is full of excellent coffee shops. There are dozens of excellent places to choose between and as of today there is another coffee shop that has entered the fray. Storyville Coffee just opened their first shop in the hallowed ground of the Pike Place Market and if their space is any indication, they are not playing around.
Storyville Coffee is new to the retail scene, but has been roasting coffee on Bainbridge Island since 2006. The company has been doing high end mail order coffee for a while and now they are stepping into the retail scene for the first time. The new store at the Pike Place Market, located just down the hall from the venerable Matt's in the Market is literally audacious. Right now, they have hours between 7am and 7pm, but later this winter that will change to 7am to 11pm. In the store itself, there is nothing cheap and it is obvious that nothing has been compromised on. From the view of the Pike Place Market sign to the painstakingly crafted interiors, the shop is exquisite. For a new retail chain in Seattle and the risk that goes with it, this is a staggering outlay of money that could go terribly south if the winds do not blow in Storyville's favor.
That said, all of the right ingredients are there to be a very popular cafe. The space is inviting and feels exclusive, especially when you can enjoy your coffee while looking out over the sunset in a leather chair. The coffee is pricey, but very good. My macchiatto was well prepared and both mellow and strong simultaneously. The coffee had strong flavor, but little acid. There is WiFi for the nomadic laptop warrior and the bakery case is all made in house, right down to the free sugar cookies for children (another case of vision over business, it seems). There are even waffles on the menu, making this an option for breakfast. Rumor has it that the coffee shop is also considering providing live music in the evenings and weekends, as well as a broader range of food and drink, including wine and beer. All together, there is a lot of potential for the shop.
The question will be how popular they get, since the feel of exclusivity and relaxing atmosphere could easily be thrown off by a massive line like what is found at the "first" Starbucks elsewhere in the market. On the other hand, if they can be busy without the space feeling crowded, they have a winner and the other shops that they have planned (for example at 1st and Madison and in Upper Queen Anne where Teacup used to be) should also come out on top.