For the past 20 years, my official kick-off to Christmas is meeting my friend Roger at Starbucks Pike Place Market early in the morning on Christmas Eve. Often, I am fresh off a plane from China with a strong side of jet lag. The sounds of Pike Place Market waking up and the warm glow of Starbucks let me know I am officially home for the holidays.
Like most great traditions, ours has a familiar cadence. We meet at the store. Order our holiday beverages. Take a selfie at the hand-off counter and a picture of our drinks with the framed original logo coffee bag. Then, with drinks in hand, we head over to Lowell’s to enjoy the sunrise and exchange gifts.
Why an annual picture with a coffee bag? The origin story of the framed original logo coffee bag is that it was saved from going into a dumpster circa 1990. I was a part-time barista on the “Ave”, store #305. We had been tasked, likely by Erika Brooks, to do a DEEP clean of the large back room.
Our Christmas Eve morning tradition and the annual touchpoint of visiting the old coffee bag always reminds me of the best that Starbucks aspires to be and challenges me to take the best of my Starbucks experiences into the new year. On the way out the door, I look at the coffee counter and think of all the stories of Howard visiting the store in the middle of the night, then raise a virtual toast of appreciation to him.
This year, with travel restrictions in place, it was not practical to fly from Shanghai to Seattle. The challenge was to figure out how to keep the tradition alive in a pandemic. Pulling out my favorite Star Skill, ask for help, I reached out to Chad Moore. He and the fabulous team at Pike Place helped inspire and nurture the human spirit with a little holiday magic. When Roger walked in at around 7 AM on Christmas Eve morning, he was greeted by name, then handed two drinks with our names on them, the partner working the bar took a selfie with Roger and delivered the gift I had sent him from the Shanghai Roastery. Definitely the highlight of my COVID Christmas. The siren showed that even a pandemic is no obstacle for a treasured coffee tradition.
Top row: Christmas Eve Morning at Pike Place Market Starbucks with Roger.
Middle row: Annual picture of our beverages and the bag.
Bottom row: The tradition continued in COVID with some help from Chad Moore and the fabulous Pike Place Market Team.