Over the next 100 days, founder of Explore Washington State, Scott Cowan will be taking part in an experiment of his own making: trying one hundred different coffee shops, across the state. Initially the project blossomed out of his love for coffee, as well as a tribute to his late father. This is a heartfelt project that we are sharing with you all. Here, is Scott’s coffee story.

The Early Years

I started drinking coffee when I was ten years old– why my parents let me start drinking coffee at this age is beyond me. Add in a mix of my fathers own love for caffeine, and the general relaxed nature of the 70s and there you go. On a trip to the east coast with my parents I was introduced to iced coffee in Maryland, which back then, was a big deal.  The details of exactly where are vague but I believe it was a restaurant in Baltimore that specialized in blue crab; the impact has been significant. Throughout the remainder of the trip I would search the menu at every restaurant to see if they had iced coffee. Most of the time I was in luck and I could have iced coffee with my meal, I was a kid hooked.

When we returned home to Tacoma imagine my disappointment when I could not find iced coffee anywhere, again this was in the early 70s and it just hadn’t quite made it’s way to the west coast. This is when I started drinking freeze dried Tasters Choice at home because that is what my dad drank.

The College Years

Jump forward to college and coffee became my lifeline. Many nights were spent consuming strong diner coffee while trying to prepare for an exam or get a paper completed in time. When I was not cramming for an exam, I would spend time at the Valley Café in Ellensburg drinking mochas and having cheesecake- nothing like college to help you make healthy food choices. That was my first exposure to what was soon to be the coffee culture of the Pacific Northwest.  Mochas seemed to be a magical beverage that I could not get enough of, chocolate and caffeine- it was a dream.

Looking back, I wonder just how I drank such a sweet sugary cup of ‘coffee’.  

The Career Years

After college, it was a series of jobs all fueled by break room coffee. No matter how long the coffee had been sitting around I would drink it, it was a habit. Later in my corporate life I spent 7 years in the IT department at Starbucks Corporate. Let’s just say for that time period I was fully caffeinated! My career eventually led me to real estate where it seems every meeting is held at a coffee shop. No matter what time of day or night homes are sold over conversations in coffee shops.

Coffee and Conversations

A common thread during my work years would be meeting my parents for a meal and having coffee with my dad.  I would sometimes just meet my dad and we would go have a cup of coffee someplace and just enjoy each other’s company. Through the years my taste in coffee evolved but I would always be happy to go and have a cup of coffee with dad no matter where it was he wanted to go. My dad was my hero as a lot of dads are for young men. He served time in the US Navy, and was a proud grandfather to my children. He was a talker, always seemed happiest when he was sitting with a cup of coffee chatting with his friends or brand-new people he struck up a conversation with.  

Sadly, my dad passed away in 2018 and while I cannot go and have a cup of joe with him anymore, I have so many years of memories to look back on and hundreds of cups of coffee shared with him that I am truly a lucky man. In part, this project is dedicated to him, and all of the time we were able to spend together, enjoying our coffee.

100 Cups of Coffee in 100 Days?

My focus for the 100 cups of coffee in 100 days in Washington State is to go and visit new and exciting coffee shops, bakeries, roasters, and cafes that serve throughout the state. Since I am a black coffee drinker, I will not be trying the espresso beverages (or mochas, sadly) that are available. I will be enjoying a simple cup of coffee served in a mug

Sometimes it will be iced or cold brewed, sometimes it will be hot. Whatever hits me at the moment. I’m going to share the experience here so that while you are out Exploring Washington State you can use this a guide to coffee and interesting places where you can find great coffee that may not be as well publicized, as say, Starbucks. By no means am I a coffee expert- just a passionate fan simply sharing my experience at the venue and encourage you to give the place a try.

There may be many times that I do not care for the coffee as I do tend to like my coffee big and bold.  The trend now seems to more lightly roast the beans to bring out the various flavors found. This not my personal flavor profile, but by no means does that mean that the coffee is not good. It’s just not my thing. I will be documenting the way the coffee is served. Drip, Pour Over, Chemex, French Press, Siphon, Aeropress, Cold Brew, Toddy, etc. Time allowing, I will try to have more than one cup prepared using different methods at each shop.

Part of having a cup of coffee in a coffee shop is the atmosphere and the conversations that are being had between the staff and the patrons. Many of the shops I have never been to before so I am going to do my best to channel dad and strike up conversations with people and staff. My hope is that I will have the cup of coffee in a cup or mug and not in a to go cup. I want to slow down and enjoy the experience that each coffee shop has to offer. At some locations, I will be meeting friends and we will enjoy the experience together and that will be part of the post.

In Closing

I am looking forward to travelling the state and visiting 100 coffee shops in 100 days. I hope that you will enjoy the articles and that I will find new and interesting coffee shops for you to travel when you are out Exploring Washington State. I am looking forward to your comments and suggestions on where I should go.  It’s a big state and I know that there are hidden gems. Lets go find them!

What do you think you can do in 100 days?