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That's a Starbucks?

When the coffee giant opened a 'stealth' outlet in its own hometown, it was the espresso shot heard around the world.

This story appears in the November 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

That's a Starbucks?

Last summer, when the butcher paper came off the windows at the former Starbucks in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, locals found a narrow little cafe called 15th Ave Coffee & Tea, serving espresso pulled from a manual La Marzocco machine by hipster baristas with a flair for latte art. Drip coffee is made cup by cup from small-batch-roasted beans brewed in an $11,000 ceramic-filtered Clover machine. The pastries come from the local Essential Baking Co. One wall is papered over with pages from Plato's dialogues, and the chairs were salvaged and refurbished from other cafes. The communal table is made from weathered ship timbers, and even has a notch where the mast used to poke through. Every morning, there's a "cupping," a tasting of some of its more exotic brews.

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