At Top Pot, we love our customers. In fact, we like to think of every person who comes through our doors as not just a customer, but as part of our community. We love getting to know more about the people we serve. In that spirit, we’d like to extend that invitation to our blog.
Would you like to be featured in a customer spotlight? Submit your answers to these questions on our contact page for the chance to be featured on our blog and win an awesome prize. We will randomly draw three participants to win a $20 Top Pot gift card!
What’s your name?
How long have you been coming to Top Pot?
What is your drink of choice?
What is your favorite Top Pot treat?
If you could create the next Top Pot doughnut, what flavor would it be?
If I were a doughnut I’d be . . .
What about the Top Pot experience has kept you as a customer?
We can’t wait to learn more about you. Thanks for being a part of the Top Pot community!
Top Pot’s second café is located on 5th Avenue in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. This densely populated urban area is filled with old-school charm. Brick buildings line the street, while the sleek, silver monorail, built for the 1962 World’s Fair, glides overhead. Just a few blocks from the Space Needle, the 5th Avenue café is a place where famous guests, excited tourists, and neighborhood regulars come to mingle.
Beautiful two-story greenhouse windows allow passersby to observe the old-school interior, complete with Top Pot’s signature bookshelves, a 1960s-style television, and a balcony seating area. It’s a beautiful, large café and it’s a staple of Seattle’s downtown.
The roastery for all 20 Top Pot locations is housed at this location. This is where all of our coffee beans and cold brew coffee is produced. It’s amazing how much hard work and dedication the men and women of the roastery have put into their work. Whether you’re sipping a latte on top of Queen Anne hill in one of our first locations, or grabbing a quick drip coffee at our newest café, Sky House in Dallas, you’re tasting the same great quality coffee.
Tourist Hot Spot
The 5th Avenue location is conveniently close to many of Seattle’s great tourist destinations. After enjoying our doughnuts and coffee, visitors can take the 10-minute walk to the Seattle Center. There they can take a trip to the top of the Space Needle, visit the International Fountain, or spend an afternoon in the EMP/SFM, otherwise known as the “Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum.”
This nonprofit museum features exhibits focused on pop culture and music both nationally and internationally. Their most recent exhibits have included a Star Trek retrospective, an in-depth Hello Kitty display, and, of course, several rooms devoted to our hometown hero, Jimi Hendrix.
If you choose to set your feet walking south, you’ll arrive at Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market. Yup, that’s the place where they throw the fish. There is also fresh food from over 85 local farmers as well as various artistic wares from the 225 local artists that can be found along the market’s 9 acres.
Local Favorite/Famous Hang Out
But it’s not just tourists who love our Belltown store. It’s also a neighborhood place. With its extensive seating and retro vibe, it’s a great place to meet with a friend or five. Knitting clubs, tech workers check-ins, and senior meet-ups all take place on a weekly basis. Not to mention, it’s a great place to take the family on a Sunday morning.
Even the famous crowd gets in on the action. Over the years Top Pot 5th Avenue has been visited by many familiar faces: Conan O’Brien, Joel McHale, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and Philip Seymour Hoffman have all come to visit. But nothing quite beat then time when this guy showed up.
That’s right, we were lucky enough to be visited by President Barack Obama. It was an incredible experience (yeah, that’s me hiding back there on the left). He greeted everyone, shook our hands and generally made us all smile. And yes, he tried a doughnut (it was the glazed pumpkin old-fashioned) and pronounced it “addictive.”
The Inside Scoop
It’s not only our customers who love the 5th Avenue location. We’re also big fans of it as well. Founder, Mark Klebeck was one of the main forces behind the build and design of the café.
When I asked him what was his favorite part of the creation and build of the 5th Avenue location, he had this to say:
“The downtown 5th avenue café is unique in that it was built slowly and carefully thought out in design. The entire space is covered in birch wood, terrazzo and was designed to match the late 1940’s structure. It is special for me because my wife and I got married inside on the stairs two weeks before it opened to the public.
“My favorite thing about the build out was working side-by-side with my brother Michael from start to finish. We took our time and carefully incorporated design as we went along.”
Our flagship store is a hustling, bustling place filled with excited customers, delicious doughnuts, and robust coffee. The line can get a little crazy from time to time, but there’s no denying it’s a lot of fun. In fact, this quote from Clara, a 5th Avenue staff member, pretty much sums it up:
“It’s a fast-paced environment that can go from zero to jam packed in seconds. Most days there are customers waiting before we even open the door. It can be hard work, but when you get into the rhythm it transforms into a doughnut-slinging dance party.”
Have you visited our flagship location? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!
“I usually bring what I’m working on to coffee shops because, with as many puns as you can imagine are intended, it helps the bundle of ideas in my head percolate and drip by drip their way to life.” –– Tom Robbins
J.K. Rowling does it. So did Gertrude Stein, Franz Kafka, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Heck, even unabashed tea-drinkers like Stephen King have, most certainly, done it from time to time. All across the world, in fact, people are doing it right now and, in all probability, you have too. Whether it’s the next Great American Novel being wrought out or a clever spin on tomorrow’s investment report, there’s no denying coffee shops have long served as a prime location for folks to get their creative juices flowing and hungers––not to mention caffeine fixes––satiated.
Why is this? What is it about the environment of our neighborhood coffee purveyors that directs our minds to a level of productivity which our offices and cubicles cannot? Is there something in the water? Perhaps in the doughnuts and assorted pastries we nibble on? Or is it simply a combination of comfort, familiarity, and delight that can only come from a place many consider to be their home away from home?
In addition to whichever reasons works for you, here are five more reasons coffee shops are fantastic places to bring work to and to get work done.
Community: Coffee shops have become the modern-day town meeting hall. Where else can you count on seeing friends and neighbors on a daily basis, taking a break from their busy lives? Maybe you’re working on your thesis and need a little bit of friendly inspiration and encouragement to finish those last few pages? Maybe you’re in need of a babysitter so you can go out and celebrate having finally finished those last few pages? Chances are you’ll be able to find both––and a little friendly gossip––at the coffee shop.
Caffeine: Yeah, it’s a need. Don’t deny it and don’t deny your overworked brain the pleasure (and relief) it provides too. When the day is looking dark, you need to wake up, and even your yawns are yawning, that triple-Americano you just ordered will work better than any buzzing alarm clock––just try not to hit its snooze button.
Fewer Distractions: Sure, your neighbors are here, and you’re getting the 411 on what’s happening in the community garden, but chances are your boss or professor isn’t and that can often make a HUGE difference when you need to finish something without someone gawking over your shoulder. Bringing your work to the coffee shop still shows you’re getting out of bed and getting things done, but, gosh darn it, you’re doing it on your terms and with a coffee by your side.
Ambiance: There’s something to be said for the sound of coffee grinding and the hiss of milk steaming. Take a hint from Goldilocks: When the din of TV or radio is too much to bear and the sound of silence is something best left to Simon and Garfunkel, the lulling, dulcimer tones of the coffee shop can provide just the right amount of background noise to get your mind a’movin’.
Delicious Food: Let’s face it, sometimes we all need a treat––especially when we’re knee-deep in a project and have no clue where to go or what to say next. Though by no means a scientific study, I’d wager to say there’s a direct correlation between the smile that comes from that first bite of an old-fashioned doughnut and the congratulations you receive at the office for a job well done. Coffee shops stock themselves with all the tasty things we aren’t likely to find in the break room and you, me, and we are all the better for it.
Needless to say, there are a myriad of reasons why coffee shops have long been trusted with not only our bellies, but our brains too. Did you recognize some of your own here? If not, what are some of your favorite reasons for working on stuff in a coffee shop?
Now, if you’ll pardon me, I have an essay to write and a cappuccino to sip.
Located on Summit Avenue in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Top Pot’s inaugural cafe is still as popular as it was when it first opened its doors in 2002.
I remember my first visit to this location, which was years before I eventually joined the Top Pot team. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves covered the walls, good music floated through the sweet smelling air, while crisp fall sunlight shone in the store front windows. Although I had never been there before, I felt right at home.
Mark and Mike Klebeck had no idea what was in store when they decided to open a doughnut and coffee shop on Capitol Hill. In fact, even the name “Top Pot” was a happy accident.
From the Top Pot cookbook, Hand-Forged Doughnuts:
“In 1996, a few years after we’d opened a coffee shop called Zeitgeist in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, we found a giant neon sign from a defunct Chinese restaurant that read “TOPSPOT.” We bought it for $400 and stored it in our mother’s backyard in North Seattle for five years, where is slowly began succumbing to rust and raccoons.
“Then we hit upon the idea of opening a doughnut shop, making them by hand rather than depending on the machines the large, increasingly popular doughnut shops were using. Following the same design philosophy we captured at Zeitgeist, and before that at another coffee shop called Bauhaus, we decided to name our new place Top Spot and to front it with the rickety old neon sign. Before becoming coffee entrepreneurs, we had been general contractors, and between us, we had years of experience in remodeling, building cabinetry, and designing restaurant spaces. So we built out the cafe ourselves, pouring the terrazzo floors and building the bookcases–now a signature trimming at Top Pot’s cafes–one shelf at a time. But the day we drove the sign down Interstate 5 in Michael’s 1966 Ford F-100, there was a rattle and a loud clink as the “S” fell off the rusty old sign–and Top Pot Doughnuts was born.” — Mark Klebeck and Michael Klebeck with Jess Thomson, Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker (Chronicle Books, 2011)
From those first fateful days, Top Pot Summit took off and became a staple of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. I’ve had the opportunity to work at that location and there really is something indefinably special about it. Customers can spend hours in the lobby working on their computers and sipping lattes without being disturbed, thanks to the positive and laid back vibe.
And yet, there is a thriving community woven into the fabric of the store. Customers fall into easy conversation with each other and the staff. It truly is a place where “everybody knows your name.”
No cafe would be complete without a nod to the staff. They are the ones that not only keep the cafe ticking, but they are also responsible for the tone of the store. Some of the Summit staff have been working for Top Pot (and working at the Summit location) for ten years. The store is like a second home for them and their investment shows.
I asked Julie, a long-time staff member at the store, why she loves her place of work. I think her answers sums it up nicely:
” It’s cozy, a little retro, and funky. From an aesthetic standpoint, its got an old-school coffee shop vibe, and newcomers always comment on it. But the real reason its so great, is that the customers are neighborhood people who we have had the opportunity to get to know over many years. We appreciate the familiarity and all the fun conversation we get to have every day. And they seem to love us and genuinely appreciate the service we give them!”
Have you visited our first location? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below.