Coffee in Seattle is as ubiquitous as cheesesteaks in Philly, or beans in Boston. We’re notorious for our snobbish obsession with the perfect $4.00 (or more!) espresso drink, and claim to know the difference, by aroma and taste, between a Kenyan sumatra and a nice varietal from El Salvador. As one firmly entrenched in the coffee culture, and with about 10 years experience drinking Seattle coffees, I thought I’d share my top four and a half Seattle coffee roasters/coffee houses. Before listing, I thought I’d state the obvious: because of conflict of interest, Q Cafe and Lounjin are not listed. They’re the best, but also run by Quest, or folks that attend Quest. Check ’em out when you get a chance. Q Cafe serves up Stumptown, Lounjin rocks the Zoka espresso blend.
In no particular order:
- Stumptown Coffee on 12th. New to the Seattle scene, this one is close enough to my grad school to grab a cup during a ten-minute class break. Plus, they brew up different french press varietals every day, so you can keep trying new stuff. As a bonus, they set records for their direct-trade approach to the coffee industry.
- El Diablo on Queen Anne. El Diablo presents itself as the only Latin coffeehouse in Seattle. True or not, they make a mean Cordadito and serve it up in a downstairs painted in Latin folk art to look like hell, while up the spiral staircase you’ll find more room to study in heaven (i’m not kidding). Last time I was there, they had shut down heaven temporarily. Turns out it wasn’t up to code. Hope they got that resolved.
- Vivace. If you’re from Seattle, that’s all I have to say. David Schomer and his crew set the gold standard for espresso. If you don’t agree, they don’t care; they’ll just tell you you’re wrong.
- Zoka’s on Greenlake. These guys are good. Real good. They import much of the same varietals as Stumptown, and also have an excellent record for fairly trading their coffees. While some say they’re selling out after opening a second coffeehouse (U Zoka), they were voted the 2008 macro roaster of the year, and are involved in the local community.
- Caffe Artigiano. Okay, this is where the ‘and a half’ comes in. Technically, Caffe Artigiano is in Vancouver, BC. Vancouver is my favorite place to vacation spot within driving distance. Usually, vacation also means coffee withdrawal, and miserable coffee. Artigiano has the good stuff; it’s like home away from home.
What are your favorite Seattle (or elsewhere) coffee hangouts?