Featured Clover Starbucks – The International District store in Seattle (505 Union Station)

It’s time to feature the Clover Starbucks in Seattle’s International District.  It is actually at 505 Union Station, which is not to be confused with “Union Street” in Seattle, which is not near this store.  In early September this year, the store went through a major remodel, and so I thought it would be fun to show off the new and improved location.  By the way, this store has had a Clover for a very long time: It was one of the earliest stores to receive a Clover brewer back in August of 2008.

Here’s the address, in case you want to visit:

Starbucks #3307
Union Station
505 – Fifth Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 381-8965

This store has two entrances.  There is a main front entrance, and in addition, there is a smaller door at the end of a hallway which leads into the adjoining office building.  That hallway has, over the years, traditionally been the place where this Starbucks showcases local artists’ works.  I am really glad to see that that tradition is still ongoing, even after the major remodel:

The store is actually on 5th Avenue South in Seattle, nearly at the west entrance into Seattle’s International District, and only a couple of blocks away from an Uwajimaya.  The store’s wall art reflects the character of its neighborhood:

This Starbucks is also very close to Seattle’s two sport stadiums.  I definitely think this Starbucks gets a bit of a rush on game days.  You can kind of see a part of Seahawks Stadium as you look out the windows facing south-west:

I took a variety of other photos to show off the store.  Here they are:

I want to mention one more thing.  If you’re just outside the store’s main entrance, and you look to the north, you have a bit of a view of downtown Seattle.  It’s not a million-dollar-view, but it’s not a bad view, if you’re sitting right outside the store on the patio tables:

So this is definitely a fun little store to visit, and in a great location to stop for coffee and visit the International District area of Seattle!  For those readers who don’t yet know, I am attempting to write about as many Clover Starbucks as possible.  I maintain a list of Clover stores, and all the links in this blog article go to my own store reviews.  Of course, at the rate I’m going, I’ll be 90 before I visit all the Clover stores.  This list is not complete, but it does include the overwhelming majority of the Clover locations:

List of Clover stores.

((The first twelve people to leave a non-spam comment directly on this blog article AND tweet this will receive a $5 Starbucks gift card.  Please note, the tweet MUST include “@SbuxMel” somewhere in the tweet.  No keywords permitted in name area.  “Nice article” and “Thanks for sharing” are both spam, as well as comments that do not relate to this specific content.  The contest ends at 11:00 a.m. (PST) on December 8, 2011, or at twelve qualifying comments, whichever comes first.  All winners must have an address either in the United States, Canada, or the U.K.  If you have questions about this contest, please email me at Melody at StarbucksMelody dot com.  Void where prohibited by law.  All winners must be over the age of 18.))

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  • Jeremy

    Had my first clover drink today and it was just ok. I think it was a mexican blend and it took like 10 minutes to make. Did I miss something about the coffee?

  • Melody

    @Jeremy – Where were you at when you tried the Clover? Have you seen this store? (I don’t know where you are.) There aren’t really a lot of “mexican blend” coffees offered right now at Starbucks. Organic Shade Grown Mexico coffee at Starbucks is not the go-to coffee for many at the Clover (even though it is good.) Sometimes people do order Latin American blends through the Clover, like Pike Place Roast, or even House, but that’s not so common either. Right now, I’d say the highlights of the Clover choices are the Reserves. The Guatemala Santa Catalina is delicious. The Ethiopia Harrar has a distinctly African coffee flavor, and none of the flavor notes common in a Mexican blend – You might like that. Do you still have your receipt? It should say which coffee you ordered. Try again, and I hope you take some time to work with a coffee master – Flavor of coffee is heavily related to where it is grown.

  • Jeremy

    It was on 50th and Broadway in Manhattan. I had read about Clovers, but was just confused when they kept pushing it when the store was packed at 4 PM. They offered the light blend and dark blend and I chose the light which was the Mexican blend. The baristas were pretty excited about it but I can’t say I was super impressed for the amount of time it took to make it. What is your go to sweetner/milk pref with the Clover?

  • Melody

    @Jeremy – The Clover is slower – Since it is handcrafted just for you, you often wait just as long for coffee as for an espresso beverage. That sounds like sort of a #fail in terms of inspiring coffee knowledge. Sorry to hear your store just offered you “light” and “dark” – that makes no sense since you can get ANY coffee via the Clover, so there are a TON of choices. I drink my coffee black. All I can think of is that somehow they offered you Organic Shade Grown Mexico -which is indeed good from the Clover, but it’s not a featured Clover coffee. And if they gave you Pike Place Roast from the Clover, then that is a double #fail. Pike Place Roast is not meant for the Clover really (I think that is its best brew method, but that’s another story). All I can say is try the Harrar for a real experiment in coffee, or try the Guatemala Santa Catalina (which is definitely not a Mexico blend, since it is not from Mexico). There is also Aged Sumatra which is very very very bold. It’s delicious, but even I sometimes have to be in the right mood for a cup of Aged Sumatra. I am so sorry that the baristas at your store didn’t guide your coffee selection a little more carefully.

  • Hayley

    I love reading about all these Clover stores! If they put one in Tucson, I would definitely try every Reserve coffee they offered through the Clover. Maybe someday…
    Is it bad that when I decide to relocate and move out of Tucson (which I do plan on hopefully doing within the next few years) that I look for a Clover Starbucks in that potential city?
    I was curious about that comment Jeremy said with regards to Clover coffees also! Sometimes I will drink coffee black, and I always taste a new coffee for the first time, with no cream or sweetener. But I do add things to coffee more often than not.

  • Jim b

    First I am sorry that Jeremy had a bad clover coffee. I must say clover coffee taste great I wish all Starbucks coffee tasted this good. As for the article nice right up I really liked the photos keep up the good work.


  • lori sica

    I have to say that my main Starbucks is a Clover store and I was thrilled to learn about the machine (mostly from your blog) I love the smell of coffee almost as much as the taste, so to stand by the machine and enjoy the brew is amazing! My experience is, to enjoy a clover brewed coffee when I am in the mood for a nice hot strong brew..which is most of the time. Iced clover does not get cold enough for me, and adding ice waters down the taste. Then, if I am in a mood for pumpkin spice or white chocolate, I stick with Americano or Pikes Place. Always Always enjoy the blog! And keep us posted on Noburu’s progress! Thanks Melody :)


    I always enjoy reading your articles and even more your photos that you post. And yes, I have RT this article.


    PS: What coffee did you enjoy from the Clover?

  • Mike

    Very nice photos, Melody!

    My local Starbucks don’t look this nice and also this one seems much larger than most in my area.

    What exactly are Clover coffees? Is it a different way of making coffee?

  • purple1

    This remodel of this SB really shows the flavor the area and I truly appreciate the area where they show the local artwork. Seems like it would be a great people watching place plus very welcoming. Melody what is the International district in Seattle?

  • Melody

    Just want to see where we are at with the comments and giftcards:

    1. Jeremy
    2, Hayley
    3, Jim B
    4. Lori Sica
    5. Boston Starbucks Rebel
    6. Mike
    7. Purple1

    So, 7 out of 10.

    All of those folks, please email me your postal address and include your twitter name in the email – Thanks! Melody at StarbucksMelody dot com

  • denise r

    Another interesting thread Melody. Very pretty store but the wall art, for me, is too ‘busy’. Otherwise, beautiful…and I always like the ‘red chairs’ when I see them. And I like the view of Seattle from outside.

    @Melody: sounds like you have more Clover-informing to do….. or, at least re-direct:)

  • Melody

    @Denise – I like that pic too of looking at Seattle from outside the store. Speaking of the Clover reviews, I’m way overdue to get outside of Seattle to write a blog post about a Clover. I need a vacation!

  • purple1

    Melody can you see any of this view from inside the store? I watch people at clover stores get so excited when they see the partner making their clover drink and when this happens the partner becomes so excited as well. I know it is winter here, but surely a vacation around here would be nice. Melody hope to see you around these neck of the woods soon.

  • Julia @ juliecache

    I recently read about the Clovers in Onward. In West Des Moines, IA, two stores were built before Starbucks announced that it would be closing stores. Ours opened and are still open.

  • camspi

    Love looking through the pictures of all these stores! I debated a couple partners recently who complained the remodeled stores have less personality than the older ones. I LOVE the look and feel of stores like the one posted above! Its so welcoming!

  • Melody

    @Purple – It’s not a great view from inside the store, other than a peek-a-book view of the Seahawks stadium.
    @CamSpi – That is a great debate to have. I can see how that could go both ways! I think that a lot of the personalization of a store has to do with what the partners do with it. There should be time for chalkart! it makes such a difference. I would rather look at bad chalk art than just posters from corporate. I love stores that have local art. And some stores try to have some personality – Like stores that have collections of city mugs on display, or bearista bears on display – But I haven’t seen that in a while, and I’ve heard stories of DMs saying “no” to displaying city mug collections on a shelf behind the counter. I also think that a community board can make a big difference. I’m a little disappointed when I see new stores that don’t have any community board. I also think that store design has to be really careful to find ways to make the store locally relevant, with passion at that – It could get too easy to get cookie cutter with this new style. I mean, I think one of the most amazing remodels where every attention to local style was paid attention to was this store:


    ^ That big neon “F” soooo fits with the character of the Fremont neighborhood! And it’s bold!

  • Cd

    @camspi – I have noticed a difference in the caliber of remodels from store to store. Some (probably slower) stores appear to have received a skimpier remodel and do sometimes look a bit “cheaper” in appearance. Those stores often have less comfortable seating too (certainly no “red” chairs @denise!)

  • Melody

    @Cd – That’s the truth. I’ve seen a few “major remodels” where it really didn’t look like any tried to make the store standout in some unique way. The new design is the new “cookie cutter” and it’s going to take proactive work to make each store unique! It’s worth the extra money – both customers and baristas want to take pride in their store.

  • Melinda Foofie Deyhle

    i love the clover list! thank you for the reviews of the different Starbucks… makes me want to visit them right away!

  • Melody

    @Melinda – Glad you like the Clover list! It is a work in progress still. :) @Michael – The Clover coffee brewer is a special machine that is available in (very roughly) 230 Starbucks stores, mostly in the US. There are a few in Canada, and there is at least one or two in Japan. Since it makes one perfect cup of coffee, a single cup at a time, it gives customers tons of flexibility about what to order. You can get any Starbucks coffee, and those stores that are designated as “Clover” stores also receive unique coffee offerings not available at a normal Starbucks – A good example of that is the Sun Dried Ethiopia Harrar coffee currently available at Clover Starbucks.

    You can use the store locator on Starbucks.com to find a Clover store. I have a list that I’ve slowly been compiling for a long time now, though it still is not totally complete.

    One thing to note, one of the reasons the Clover is great is that it is not launched at the scale of 12,000 stores in the United States. In order to be able to provide the unique the coffees that go with the Clover brewers, Starbucks is going to have to put a cap on how many stores get a Clover, and I wonder what direction all this is going, because Clovers are spreading fast at this point. I remember when there were like 3 of them.

    By the way, the Clover brewing process is a lot like an automated French press. If you were to turn a French press upside down, create a perfect mesh filter, and use vacuum press technology, you’d have the basic idea of a Clover brewer.

    The first Starbucks Clover was launched in either November or December 2007, and in March 2008, Starbucks announced that they had purchased the company that makes the Clover, and then they’ve been growing ever since in numbers, but recently Starbucks has been really rapidly accelerating how many stores have a Clover coffee brewer.

  • purple1

    I truly believe that a SB store should show the local flavor of the community and not be a cookie cutter version from one store to the other. There are so many terrific local artists that would love to show their artwork and I think in the end it not only helps the artist but makes the SB more appealing and relaxing.

  • Brendan206

    Hey Melody! Nice blurb — I love that Clover store in the International District/Chinatown. I especially like the well-used pedestrian plaza that the main entrance faces (which you captured in some of your photos). The location is perfect for commuters using the nearby King Street Station or International District tunnel station. I’d wager that the customers are mostly commuters or office workers from the area — it’s a world of difference from a suburban drive-through store, or even the touristy store at 101 Pike St.

  • Mike

    Thanks for clearing that up for me, Melody. I’ll have to see if any of my local Starbucks has one!

  • elly

    this used to be my ‘home’ store, when i was working in amazon’s us1 and us2 buildings (705 and 605). i may need to stop in and take a look around one of these days :)

  • Melody

    Elly – Isn’t this the store we met up at when we went to the Starbucks tweet up event together? This store has some good memories for me. I remember one day it was pouring rain, and I parked in the ID, planning to shop downtown – The store manager loaned me his umbrella for the day!

  • Violetsouffle

    I love the original art in this Starbucks store, and really, art is one of the main things that makes a restaurant or coffeehouse stand out to me. Sadly it’s not something I se a lot of in the Starbucks stores in my city, even though many other chains do manage to feature art& lots of it. It’s a great way to make a Starbucks store feel non generic.

  • Melody

    @Violet – Totally agree and that is an important comment. As Starbucks stores are getting their major remodel, and number of them or losing the walls that once were local art, instead filled with Starbucks-corporate-wall-stuff. It is GREAT that this store kept that tradition of having local art. It can be hard to find in some stores. By the way, if you’re ever in Seattle, the lower queen anne Starbucks often has great local art. Amazing local art!

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