Archive for stumptown

Coffee in Seattle: A Tour

Posted in coffee, seattle with tags , , , , , , , on January 16, 2009 by sparrowriot

img_0862If you are going to come all the way to Seattle, don’t be the tourist who goes to the Starbuck’s at Pike’s Place and believes that they’ve done the “Seattle coffee thing.”  No! No! Bad Tourist!  To be truly touched by the magic of the artisan sub-culture, you need to try a little harder, and I promise you that it is worth it.  You must visit and experience the local coffee shops and you MUST try a cupping.  A what?  It’s like a wine tasting, spitting and all.  You are so excited, no?

First, go to Vivace in Capitol Hill.  This coffee shop is the pioneer of latte art and artisan espresso in Seattle and takes much pride in presentation and preparation.  To be honest, I don’t love the espresso, but if you’ve never had freshly roasted, fresh espresso pulled by a highly trained Seattle barista, this is splitting hairs. The mochas are fantastic.  They use magical chocolate.  Next, go to Stumptown, a Portland based coffee company, again, in Capitol Hill. Order a machiato or doppio because you need to get a load of this espresso.  It’s chocolaty with a delightful orangey-ness making eyes at your palette.  Flirt back. Attend the daily cuppings downstairs at the 12th and Mercer location at 3pm daily.  This is a must do.  Cup!  Cup!  Cup!.   It’s really interesting. You will learn that “bold” and “dark” are not actually the only words available to describe coffee.

Next..and by next, I mean next day unless you are able to handle a lot of caffeine.. hit Zoka.img_1660 Go to the Greenlake location.  Here, you want to try the coffee.  Zoka has been known for roasting each type of coffee to bring out the unique personality and profile of various beans.   Buy a pound of coffee from here.  Ask for advice on which pound.  I recommend the Mexican Nayarita if they have it (lots of berry going on) or the Sumatra Lake Tawar (Earthy, earthy, planty, earthy).  Give the espresso a shot (ha!) as well.  Your experience will depend on who’s pulling.  Lots of variation going on here in regards to barista skill level.   I think you should get a structured, masculine voice with a citrus acidity (from the espresso). I haven’t been here in a while though and the espresso changes, or at least it did; so, the coffee is the sure bet.  After that, not much to offer here.  It’s basically an affluent neighborhood with customers merging souls with their laptops.  Ewwww.

Herkimer is the best.  Um, yes I work there, but that is why I work there, because it is the best.  Yum.  And they don’t advertise.  How cool.  Go to the one in the University District.  Awesome owner (Kara is a latte art goddess, amazing espresso (every time), spicy baristas, and a wonderful space with good art.  This is a small, quality shop.


Get anything here.  The espresso is so complex.  Spices (cardamon and clove), floral, chocolate, cherry….and on and on.  You’ll want to invite it to a party after you taste it.  Or talk politics with it.  Very interesting and so mysterious. Herkimer is my dreamboat espresso.

Next!!  And now it’s in no particular order.  Victrola in Capitol Hill (art is good sometimes, baristas are great all the time).  Lighthouse Roasters in the Phinney area (amazing espresso last time I stopped by), Vita, which is a Seattle legacy but/and has gotten pretty big with multiple locations.  The espresso is nutty with caramel, if you’re lucky. If you’re not lucky, you won’t be able to figure out what the big deal is.   This place has an ambitious air and “hot” girls with short skirts. So, it’s definitely an image location.  Which is fun and funny.img_1663

So, there is your tour for when you come to Seattle. Don’t screw it up and order coffee with flavors.   Take a chance on this fantastically detailed culture and re-introduce yourself to the beverage which is the second most traded commondity in the world.