☕ Coffee Journey - Uniqueness

Happy Monday and welcome back to our coffee journey. U is for uniqueness. Many coffee shops have something unique about them: 

Architecture: It may be just a kiosk or part of a landmarked old building. Here's an article about architecturally unique Starbucks stores around the world. They may be in a modern mirror glass Pavillon or come with a ski themed patio like the one in Whistler, BC, Canada. I can't believe how little Colin was back then (2014).

Speaking of ski. Imagine you're up there on the snowy mountain. Cold winds are blowing, and you wish you had a nice, hot cup of coffee. However the thought of removing your skis and walking into a store, still wearing your chunky ski boots, would kind of ruin your experience?

Well, if coincidence has it, and you're skiing at Squaw Valley, CA, you may just hit the "Ski Thru Store". 


Yes, a regular Starbucks, except there is a drive through lane. Not for cars though. For skiers and snowboarders. I think it's the coolest thing! Check it out here.

I just put another fabulous mountain themed store to my travel bucket list, it's in Ketchum, Idaho: 

Source: Starbucks Stories

Neighborhood: Financial district, shopping mile, university or corporate campus, you name it, you’ll probably find a Starbucks. I like the ones that let you sit by the window and watch people and vehicles rushing by while you're enjoying a moment of peace and quiet.

Functionality: You may find one inside a casino, a hotel lobby, a bookstore and of course in every mall. Don’t forget the hockey stadium. This one is in Edmonton, AB, Canada. Home of the Oilers, think Wayne Gretzky, or more currently, Connor McDavid.

Transportation: Can you imagine an airport or railway / subway station without an opportunity to get a coffee?

Wait, you're late and you can't possibly get in line at the railway store? if you take the train somewhere on the route between St. Gallen and Geneva, Switzerland, you can simply board the Starbucks wagon. 

Yes, the Swiss railway company and Starbucks launched the coffee wagon project in 2013. One of my team members at the time was the project leader for this cool endeavor. Since these modern trains also come with power outlets and free wi-fi, you can literally call this your mobile office on your way to work! Check it out here.

So many possibilities. 

Of course at the end of the day, part of the uniqueness of every store comes with the partners who run it. How many times have we transferred a manager of an under performing store to some place else and brought in a secret weapon: a person who is able to breathe life into the store and build connections. 

I'd like to show you this unique store #6364 in Lakeway, Texas. A lovely partner called Tori  painted each mug and presented it at her store meeting. It was so cool to see everyone excited to pick the mug they wanted and the goal is to see the board being used consistently to build each other up.


Photo Credit: Tori Rodriguez

Remember my first post? I was talking about Green Apron recognition cards. They are given to a coworker to acknowledge their exceptionally helpful interaction with a customer or an unexpected display of thoughtfulness towards another coworker. So these cards go into the cup of the person in question. Isn't it lovely?

Tori has since folded her tents in Austin and moved to Iowa. I am sure she will do a lot of good in her new store.

I read about another remarkable Texan store. In February an 18 year old girl entered a store in Corpus Christi, got her coffee and sat down to study, when a man approached her and started talking to her. His behavior was perceived as "loud and animated", and the baristas were not sure if he was harassing the girl, so one staff member walked up to the table and cheerfully said "I have a an extra hot chocolate that was never picked up, you may have it."

On the backside of the cup was a note that said:

The girl didn't take the lid off, but she later thanked the baristas for looking out for her and her safety. Good to know that people around you care!

Speaking of exceptional... Here's a gem I want to share with you before you leave... the House of Mugs in Collettsville, North Carolina. A couple by the name of Avery and Doris Sisk picked up a box full of mugs at a flea market and used them to decorate their house. Over time, more and more mugs were added by them and by visitors. Today there's over 200k cups embellish the facade of the house.

Photo Credit: tumbleweedchris @ Tripadvisor

How about this? Too much of a good thing? Would you live in the house of mugs?


  1. Wow Tamara ... i would love to ski through a Starbucks place... i loved the gesture to protect the girl too and thats one super cool fence ... if they want to host a party for like 100 people they have cups readily available ha ha

  2. Wonderful to know about the unique drive in Starbucks cafe.....so fantastic to hav a cup of cafe after being in snow...as always interesting to know so many details, be it green cards in cups, about various types of outlets..that last house idea is fantastic too. Unique the title is apt for ur post ! I read about baristas sending over msg on cup....am not sure if it's this same thing!

    Dropping by from a to z "The Pensive"

  3. While not a fan of Starbucks, I enjoyed your travelogue.

  4. A ski-thru sounds very cool

    Today's post: U Is For Unorthodox

  5. Cool post. For some reason, I feel like I have been to a ski-thru coffee shop but I have not been to Squaw Valley. It's possible I am making this up LOL And no I would not live in the house of mugs! It is cool looking though.

  6. While I don’t drink Starbucks, I do admire those good people who reached out to the young lady. That’s awesome!

    And that house of mugs? That’s over the top for me! But to each his own. I’m amazed they don’t get broken!

    Have a great day!

  7. What a great post filled with wonderful things. How clever to have a "ski lane" - and I could definitely see making the coffee wagon a commuting office. I especially like Toni's painted cups - how fun!

  8. Interesting mug décor. Not my thing, but nothing wrong with it. So many ways to express uniqueness.

  9. Hi Tamara, those are SO cool. I really would love to see the one in Ketchum, Idaho and the Mug one in North Carolina. I don't know if I would want to live there, but would be cool to see :) Thanks for sharing.

  10. Love it! Especially the Ski through and the House of Mugs. I'll have to go visit that sometime!

  11. Tamara, I love your stories! You've reminded me-- there is a ski-up/ATV-up McDonalds in Finland. Maybe more than one by now!


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