Seattle coffee retail chains in general have better health inspection scores than their restaurant peers, although issues with hand washing and food temperature consistency are common, according to a recent investigative report by the Seattle Times.
After reviewing all the health department scores for the 36 coffee chains in Seattle and King County in 2006, the Times reported that, by and large, coffee shop owners and their staffs are doing good work in minimizing the risk for cross-contamination and food-borne illness, and that there have been no reports of illness stemming from any retail cafe with the word coffee in its title in more than two decades.
The chain with the worst score in the time period was the three privately owned locations of Zoka Coffee, owned by Jeff Babcock, but the Times reported that Babcock was one of a number of owners who responded positively to the report:
When Babcock learned about Zoka’s track record from the newspaper, he started posting workers’ certification cards in his coffee shops, fired the company that refilled soap containers and stocked paper towels, and bought sushi cases to keep sandwiches colder.
“Our policy in the past when food wasn’t cold enough was, I called the refrigerator guy and had him come out again for $500,” Babcock said. “Most of the time he’d say, ‘It’s as good as it’s going to get.’ ”
Rather than spending $20,000 each to replace two old refrigerators, Babcock risked getting bad inspections — until he learned about his ranking, upon which he called a consultant who told him to buy smaller, less expensive sushi cases.
Incidentally, Starbucks-owned Starbucks stores collectively posted the second-best inspection score since 2006.
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