On the top of Queen Anne hill, there’s a new coffee shop. The walls are a cool combination of exposed brick and warm wood paneling. The tables are distressed wood; the couches, leather. A large industrial fireplace warms the space.
This coffee shop (2128 Queen Anne Ave. N.) is the third Storyville coffee shop in Seattle. It opened Jan. 30, but “it feels like forever,” said assistant manager Sonja Lund.
The business started in 2006 as an e-commerce company that sold coffee from its Bainbridge roasting studio and in-home brewing kits. The store still sells the coffee and the at-home kits.
The goal was to perfect coffee at home with the Storyville French presses, said co-president Jamie Munson. Now it’s trying to bring that perfect coffee experience to its shops.
All of the coffee comes from Bainbridge, and all of the pastries are baked in-house. The stores only sell 8- and 12-ounce drinks, maintaining the perfect milk-to-coffee ratio, Lund said. In Queen Anne, the store’s ham-and-cheese breakfast sandwich — made with Beechers cheese — has been popular. People also love the vanilla latte, caramel rolls and granola.
A ‘new coffee experience’
The first shop opened in Pike Place Market just last October. The owners had their eye on the Queen Anne location before it became available to lease, Munson said. He loves the close-knit family experience on the hill that still is conveniently close to downtown.
“It’s like a hidden gem in the city,” Lund said. “It’s the perfect place for Queen Anne. The community is very tight.”
The goal was to create a warm space where everyone feels comfortable, Munson said; design features, like warm lighting and a low wrap-around bar help that feeling. Munson wants it to feel like a “perpetual sunset,” something he says we can use to offset all of our gray skies.
That attitude is reinforced with the quote displayed on the store’s wall: “Love everybody, never ever hurt anybody,” as said by Garry Phelps, one of the co-founders sons, who has Down’s syndrome.
Queen Anne is not without it’s fair share of coffee shops, but that doesn’t worry Munson, who said Storyville is more concerned with competing with itself than others.
“Seattle is needing a new coffee experience,” Munson said.
This exclusivity is punctuated by the limited menu and the fact that you don’t need to bus your own table.
The logo, referred to as “Fly Boy,” is of a young boy running with a toy airplane. “Fly Boy” exemplifies a world without boundaries, full of possibilities, Munson said; it’s about the wonder of life before we get older and the world starts to tell us no.
That logo is seen on all of the merchandise in the shop, on the shirts of the employees and in the shape of the small sugar cookies that the baristas give to kids who come in.
The Queen Anne community has been very welcoming, Lund said. She already has regulars, and she can already tell how tight the community is. People have already started to come in based on the recommendation of their neighbors.
“I’m blown away by the community here,” she said.
Mars Hill connection?
Not everyone has welcomed Storyville with open arms, though. An October 2013 article in The Stranger proposed the coffee company’s relationship to Mars Hill Church. The church and its head pastor, Mark Driscoll, have long been connected with messages of misogyny and homophobia. Munson was a former executive pastor at Mars Hill, the article states.
A follow-up article shows a since-removed post on the Mars Hill site that said, “God has used Storyville Coffee to bless Mars Hill Downtown. Since the Downtown campus has been planted, Storyville has donated tens of thousands of dollars worth of coffee, supplies and equipment.”
Munson denies any connection to Mars Hill and says the shops do not donate anything to the church. Lund has had customers come in and ask about it, but it’s a quick conversation when she explains they have no affiliation, she said.
“It’s a little unfair,” Munson said about the presumed connection. “But it hasn’t shut us down.”
Last week, the Queen Anne Moms and Dads group were circulating emails about the possible Mars Hill connection. Moderator Jill Gallagher said she doesn’t believe in what Mars Hill stands for and won’t patronize a company affiliated with them.
Reactions to the thread were varied, Gallagher said: Some were glad to get the information, some were worried they were attacking religion and others said they didn’t care about any religious connections and were just glad a local business filled the vacant spot.
To those naysayers, Munson said, “I can say a million times, ‘There’s no connection.’ Come give us a shot. We have nothing to hide, and we’ll keep getting better.”
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