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by Jill Allyn
Washingtonians are lucky. We have world-class local wines, a lively micro-brew scene, a growing craft distillery industry, and a diverse coffee culture. Coffee shops are everywhere you look in Seattle, and many of them serve locally-roasted beans from small companies. Micro-roasters offer single-origin beans or custom blends in a variety of roasts. Bean characteristics vary dramatically from region to region, and how they are dried after picking adds to the flavor of the coffee. Roasting the dried beans concentrates the flavors, and a lightly roasted bean is very different from one that is fully, darkly roasted. It seems the combination of bean origins and roasting levels are almost infinite. Micro-roasters develop highly individual styles of coffee, and we invite you to try some of the best coffee our state produces.
One of the oldest coffee stands in the city is Monorail Espresso (520 Pike Street; cash only). This tiny place is just 2 blocks away from the Convention Center and has been in business for 32 years. It serves a special Monorail blend coffee made for them by Mukilteo Coffee Roasters. Popular with bike messengers and office workers alike, the stand serves great caffe macchiatos and americanos.
Just outside the Pike Street entrance to the Convention Center is the La Crêperie Voilà kiosk, selling coffee made from a Seattle roaster, Caffé D’Arte. This coffee is in the Italian style, with darker roasts and bold flavors. You’ll find Caffe D’Arte at cafes and restaurants – it’s popular with Seattleites. If you like this coffee, the roaster has its own coffee house at 2nd Avenue and Stewart Street, a short walk one block west of Macy’s.
About three blocks west of the Convention Center on Union Street is the Rainier Square building. In the center of the building’s atrium is Dilettante Mocha Café. Dilettante roasts its own coffee in a European style that holds up to and compliments the lovely chocolate they use in their mochas. The café is well worth seeking out if you like chocolate with your coffee.
Head west on Pike Street to Seattle Coffee Works, near Pike Place Market. Site of the only downtown roaster, you may be able to peak at the equipment and smell the wonderful aroma that comes from roasting coffee. If you’re curious to try roasting at home, SCW sells green beans in addition to its eclectic selection of African and South American sourced beans. They also sell samplers and coffee-of-the-month club memberships.
From here, head downhill/south on First Avenue to Café Ladro, about two blocks. Café Ladro just recently began importing its own green beans and opened a roaster in a nearby neighborhood. This shop is known for its bakery and was picked as serving the best coffee in 2012 by the blogger behind Seattle Coffee Scene.
Head back up the hill to the Market entrance at First and Pike. Stay to the left and walk about three blocks. You will see a tiny Starbucks in the middle of the block (1912 Pike Place). This was the first shop the coffee chain opened (in 1971), and worth seeing because some of the city’s best buskers perform outside.
Every restaurant, café and bar in the city serves coffee, and most of them serve micro-roasted coffee. The source is usually indicated on the menu, but if it’s not, ask. Other great roasters to look for and try are Espresso Vivace, Caffé Vita, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Lighthouse Roasters, Fonte Coffee Roasters, Caffe Umbria, Fremont Coffee Company and Zoka Coffee Roaster. Each of these roasters sells via the internet, so you can continue the fine coffee tradition you’ve started once you return home. Enjoy!
For more information about coffee, try Seattle Magazine’s Ultimate Coffee Guide. Some of this information is dated but is still useful. If you’d like more information about coffee and like walking, you can go on a Seattle Coffee Crawl led by a professional tour guide.
View 2013 LAC Map – Coffee in a larger map