The Pacific Northwest’s “Coffee Culture”

By: Kasandra Easley

“Skinny Vanilla Latte!” “White Chocolate Mocha!” “Americano!”

The shouts of baristas echo through crowded coffee shops, *filled with people anxious to get their coffee drinks of the day. There’s something familiar about the smell and taste of coffee. The rich aroma wafts through the bustling doors as traffic moves in and out of the shop, lingering into the streets of many cities as coffee shops are popping up anywhere and everywhere. There’s a coffee culture *throughout the country that is easy for those who aren’t even coffee connoisseurs to pick up on.

Katie Paul, a current University of Oregon student from Hood River, Oregon, has noticed the prevalence of these java joints throughout her home state. When asked about the Northwest’s self-coined ‘coffee culture,’ she says, “When I think about coffee culture or groups associated with coffee, I think of Seattle’s Best and West Coast college campuses.”

Because Seattle’s Best, Starbucks, Tully’s and other Washington-based coffee companies are most commonly associated with the Northwest’s coffee culture, some assume that Washington has the best beans to brew the best coffee. Lately though, many coffee fanatics claim the real leader of the coffee movement is Portland, Oregon.

*Regardless of the specific town that boasts the best brew, the Northwest region has become known for its enthusiasm for coffee. Driving along Interstate-5, there are hundreds of little coffee shops, tucked into old trailers on the side of the road that have popped up for Washingtonians and Oregonians alike. While the definition of “good” coffee is completely relative, tasting opportunities have become available in nearly any place at any moment.

But what about those who aren’t coffee consumers?

Katie, who doesn’t drink coffee says, “It’s really hard because there aren’t many choices [at coffee shops]. There are so many options for coffee, but nothing else. We don’t really have ‘tea-shops.’ We don’t have drink places except for bars and coffee shops.” She’s found that when friends want to hang out in these coffee-serving establishments, her favorite drink is an Italian Soda.

Making accommodations for non-coffee consumers like Katie will only strengthen the presence coffee shops have in the Pacific Northwest. The coffee culture in the region is supported by college kids desperate for an energy boost, professionals looking for something to get them through the workday and the coffee connoisseurs searching for the perfect roast to complement their mood.

It seems like the sight of hands filled with coffee cups will be a permanent staple in towns and cities throughout the Pacific Northwest. As the rain pounds the ground, the enticing scent and flavor of the favorite shop’s “house brew” is proving to be enough to keep people moving through the day.


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