Coffee Economy

Hi to all reading out there – this is a blog post I’ve been thinking about for a while. It always gets the wheels in my brain turning when those writers and public figures go on about the ill fate of our economy. They say OMG guys! It’s not getting better, you think it is but it’s just begun! Better be careful! Depression! And all that jazz. Yes, the economic situation has (or should) made everyone into more conscious consumers over the last few years. That is a very good thing; however, being conscious isn’t the same thing as being in the red-alert penny-pinching level. I believe that when people insist on things like this, they are the cause of the situation they rant about. Whether you call it the Law of Attraction or Self-Fulfilling Prophecy – the effects are the same.  We obsess about something and then it ends up consuming us. In the stock market someone whispers ‘that one’s going down’ the word spreads so people sell sell sell and then what do you know? The stock goes down. The truth, in my opinion, is that if we acted normal and were more confident in our finances, things would recover a lot quicker. That is one of the things I think about often when I’m spending money in the “dining and entertainment” category. I cut back on more expensive dinners and I treat myself to espresso during the week. Even Suze Orman (who my mom watches religiously and has penned a couple of the books on my shelf) says basically we shouldn’t try to totally give up everything or we will go crazy. With how busy I am always go-go-go it really makes my day so much better when I grab a coffee in the morning. I shouldn’t deny myself that treat. I am definitely more conscious though, so if I am grabbing coffee or food it’s usually somewhere that has a good loyalty special or deal. I go to certain places only certain days of the week because it’s more beneficial, and I try to think local and keep a good balance of small businesses with bigger chains. So do yourself a favor and think positively about the economy and do your small part to keep it going – when we all do these small things, that’s what makes the difference. You’re going to be fine. Get yourself the freaking latte! That’s my coffee-economy philosophy and I still say that coffee (especially free coffee) makes the world go round. To further share this theory I want to share with you my top 5 coffee shops in Tacoma, WA in hopes you might consider stopping in. Here they are:

Top 5 Tacoma Coffee Shops:

1.      Lucky Penny

950 Pacific Ave

Lucky Penny downtown in the Chamber of Commerce building is just as much of a positive spin on your day as if you really did find a lucky penny on the ground and kept it in your pocket. The perfect combination of great quality, best value, and access gives this small café my number 1 spot. Run by a very sweet lady, she has a variety of specialty drinks on the wall that are delicious and at a great price point. I can still give a tip and be at $4, which is rare for coffee shops around here. I frequently indulge in the Bob Marley Mocha (chocolate, banana & coconut), the Elvis Presley (chocolate, banana & peanut butter), Nutty Irishman latte (hazelnut & Irish cream) and caramel pecan latte. It’s on my way to work downtown, and has a loading-only parking space right in front so there’s no need to watch out the window for the parking po-po’s! I was taken there my first time with a coworker, who is a fan of the authentic Korean food, for lunch. Everything is made fresh to order; the special lunch item is on a daily rotation. There’s never a huge line so you get your order fast but it’s got the steady 1-2 at a time that lets you know it’s a hidden gem, fitting for. And last but not least the best attribute is the punch card. You only have to buy 6 coffees and your next one is free. Now that is an awesome deal. Plus she keeps the cards there so you never have to forget about losing it. My #1 pick has quickly become a favorite and my most-frequented café. Check Foursquare, I’m the mayor! 😉

2.      Anthem

1911 Pacific Avenue

I have to give credit where credit is due. Anthem coffee in Tacoma has never disappointed me. The coffee shop has roots in Puyallup, where I lived the majority of my youth. There once was a downtown Puyallup Forza, everyone knew of it. Great vibe, great coffee, good study spot; it was THE place to meet up, especially if you were in a church crowd or college age. After building up such a loyal following, the owner left behind the Forza brand to sing his own song – thus Anthem was born. The expansion to Tacoma is very recent and has surprised many with its success in what many knew as a “cursed” location; many cafes had come and gone as I attended the Tacoma campus of University of Washington (right across the street) shortly prior. Why couldn’t the others survive? I’d say, part economy & part geography. There’s a reason you can have 2 Starbucks across the street from each other and one closes while the other thrives. Sometimes it’s as simple as what side of the street you are on. Are you with the flow of traffic? But Anthem has a unique spin that’s appealing enough; it urges you across the busy street of Pacific even if you are 5 minutes late already. Their brown sugar latte is pretty much famous; it’s so delicious. They have live music on the weekends, serve beer & wine, and their grand opening was awesome. I attended and even though the place was packed to see Roman Holiday it was a great night. I never thought I would be able to drink a glass of wine while walking on the amazing Chihuly Bridge of Glass. Anthem gave me that memory and that’s one I’ll look back on forever.

3.      Tully’s

764 Broadway

Normally I’m not the craziest or loyal Tully’s customer, but it’s this particular location of Tully’s that makes it to my #3.  It’s nestled in the bottom floor of the historic Bostwick Building, a Tacoma landmark. Former hotel converted to apartments, the building has that old-world charm anyone who appreciates an inner-city walk up apartment would like. I have a friend who lived there for a while and I loved the way you could smell the coffee in the halls. Something tells me maybe I might wake up easier if I lived there. The staff is always friendly, even if the line is backed up the door, and the unique triangle-ish shape makes for some great window seating. I’m not sure if it’s all Tully’s or just this location, but if you get a gift card you don’t have to load it with any cash but they use it to keep track of purchases and after 10 you get your free coffee. I also love the fact that this is the only place I can find salted caramel drinks when it’s not Christmas. It’s so good! But I must be one of the only ones who think so. This is one of the places you have to watch out for the parking po-po’s, but I’ve yet to be caught! This is a nice space to take care of business in a conference room or stop in before work, which is when I usually frequent. Gotta love that it’s a Seattle-based brand, too. There’s tons of people across the US drinking Tully’s from their Keurig’s and they don’t even know it!

4.      Starbucks

1101 Pacific Avenue South

Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks. Do I even have to put the link up there? You all know this coffee shop chain. If you live in a state other than Washington they might be your only stop for espresso, but for us it’s a little different. There are some true Starbucks loyals, I used to be one! And there are many who have experienced the plethora of amazing coffee quality and variety in northwest, we can no longer hail to King Shultz. Although it’s just so convenient and comfortable. Plus, we know even if Starbucks is now global, its roots are right here in Seattle. They were the pioneers. They introduced America to the concept of your ‘third place (it’s not home, it’s not work, it’s…) and they became my personal third place. When I first moved to Washington, I was pretty young but I knew I did NOT like coffee. Then slowly I started trying their yummy drinks until slowly but surely I became the addict I am now, ordering the extra-shot drink you have to write out on a post-it if someone is getting it for you. I studies, I went to bible study, I heard some acoustic guitar, and I even went to a Starbucks to break up with someone once. Starbucks is reliable, and I admire their non-profit alliances, including their recent bracelet campaign that helps create jobs. In the summer, I go for the treat receipt but usually get an iced white mocha Americano, just to be nicer to my wallet. Although I frequent other coffee shops, Starbucks will always be in the rotation.

5.      Forza

2209 North Pearl Street

Forza is a unique choice for my #5 but I’m trying to stay true to where I most frequent. This coffee shop on Pearl happens to be the only drive through coffee stand on my way to work! You know, there’s three Starbucks on the way but none are drive-through. Tisk tisk. Haha just kidding. It can be a blessing and a curse though because if there’s more than one person already there in the drive-through, that’s about the time when I rationalize to myself that I should save the money anyway and just drink the office coffee. That could add another 10 minutes in the morning that I don’t have!  But the coffee is delicious. Italian roasted, bold flavor and unique combinations. You get what you pay for though, so with a higher price point comparable with Starbucks and no loyalty programs that I know of, it says at the bottom of the list. I go here whenever I’m looking for a sweet treat for myself. The real caramel in the iced caramel macchiato is so yummy, plus there’s the caramel-mocha drinks and holy spumoni! The cherry-pistachio frozen treat is one I don’t order more than once a year but it’s more than memorable. I’ve done my share of studying at Forza by the cozy fireplace and definitely will be back soon to get some work done. Maybe even some blogging! Oh and before I forget, I’m almost the mayor!

By: Kelly Rates