The Mystery of Seattle’s Mystery Coke Machine

Seattle has long been a proudly weird place, but one of its weirdest elements is a vending machine. Really.

Seattle's Mystery Coke MachineAbout 25 years ago, young hipsters and budding rock stars flocked to Seattle’s Capitol Hill district, a hotbed of cheap rents, dive bars, and low-key coffeehouses. Its threadbare ambiance directly gave rise to the city’s “grunge” scene in the late ‘80s, which defined rock music in the ‘90s. But that was a long time ago—today Capitol Hill is still one of Seattle’s hippest neighborhoods, but also one of its most expensive.

But there’s one thing on the Hill that remains which echoes its raggedy past. Nobody knows who did it, or even why, but there’s an old Coca-Cola vending machine sitting at 918 East John Street. It’s kept stocked, but nobody is exactly sure how.

The locals call it Seattle’s Mystery Coke Machine. It dispenses cans of soda for only 55 cents a can, way below the dollar or so you’d pay elsewhere in Seattle in 2014, and the same price Eddie Vedder might have paid when he lived on Capitol Hill in the early ‘90s. The battered machine’s elusive operators keep it stocked with popular brands like Coca-Cola Classic and Barq’s Root Beer. There’s also two “Mystery” buttons that provide customers with random, hard-to-find, or even discontinued sodas, such as pineapple Fanta and Mountain Dew Code Red.

The vending machine has been there for well over a decade. The most likely benefactor is a nearby locksmith shop. For more information, check out the Mystery Coke Machine’s Facebook page. (Yep, it has a Facebook page.) If you know who’s behind the mystery, definitely drop us a line. We’d love to find out.