If you’re starting a new venture, Seattle seems to have built a reputation as the “place to be.” Not only is it the home of tech giants that have gone on to become household names, but it’s the birthplace of many passion projects that now inspire globally; from craft breweries and coffee shops to a bustling music scene and even specialty chocolatiers, Seattle has become a sort-of mecca for innovation. We want to appreciate some of the ways we can feel their influence in cities around the world, including in Toronto.
Seattle down for a nice cup of coffee
Topping the travel list of coffee-enthusiasts everywhere, Seattle is revered as the world centre of coffee roasting. In fact, their coffee shop culture is perhaps one of the most influential things about them; according to Wikipedia, it’s “nearly impossible” to pass a single block in a commercial area without coming across at least one coffee shop. You can trace their booming coffee culture back to the late 60s and early 70s, when shops began to pop up all over the region. Combined with the city’s cold and rainy weather and beatnik attitude, the scene flourished.
Brewing up an Artisanal storm
If coffee’s not your jam, Seattle also has its hands in the craft brewery game. Washington State ranks 7th nationally in craft breweries in America, and most of the other states that rank close to them also belong in the Northwestern region. An interesting bit of history, Yakima Brewing and Malting Company, the first American brewpub since Prohibition, was based in Washington, just a couple hours outside of Seattle. As of 2014, there are 281 artisanal breweries in the state, with about 40 of them in Seattle alone.
A choco-lot to celebrate
While there might be a few other regions in the world that you think of when you think about chocolate, don’t count Seattle out. Much like their other ventures, they don’t play it safe, which is exemplified in one of their leading companies, Theo Chocolate. Established in 2006 by Jeff Fairhall and Joe Whinney in the Fremont neighbourhood, Theo Chocolate was the first organic fair trade-certified chocolate maker in North America.
While in Southern Belize, Whinney developed a passion for the Theobroma cacao plant and wanted to support the farmers. He contacted ten bean processors, and while only one responded, it was enough for Whinney to start saving up to found a chocolate business of his own. As of 2013, they sell their products in Canada, and they can now be shopped at The Sweet Potato! Their tasty chocolate bars fall under five categories: Classic, Fantasy, Limited Edition, Baking and Holiday.
Seattle has long been an extremely influential cornerstone for musical culture in the American Pacific Northwest. As a proprietor of counterculture, it’s no surprise that the city has been credited for popularizing genres of alternative rock, most notably grunge. The city remains home to several esteemed labels, venues and acts, such as Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, and, although he didn’t gain national recognition until moving to England, Jimi Hendrix.
The best part about all of these movements is that you can feel them worldwide. Here in Toronto, we’re happy to enjoy some of their most polished exports, such as Theo Chocolate’s incredible line-up. Next time you stop by, try it out for yourself for some of that sweet Seattle innovation!