Coffee comes to us from Ethiopia, by way of the Ottoman Empire, to Italy, and then the world. Can’t get enough coffee? Then you will love this self-guided coffee tour of Seattle, where coffee has become part of the city’s cultural identity. There are any number of great coffee bars to visit. Here is a roughly north to south sweep of the city and environs. Just one word of caution: caffeine can sneak up on you, so it is wise to limit your intake of the real deal.
One expert told me that up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day appears to be the safe amount for most healthy adults under age 55. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee (apparently there is something brewing with people over 55, who don’t have the same limitations). So, armed with this information, I am going to suggest you may want to pick and choose or to break this up into a several different days’ tour.
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Begin at Herkimer Coffee, where they buy premium green coffee from farms that follow traditional cultivation methods, growing coffee in naturally shaded areas without fertilizers or pesticides. Seattleites say theirs is the best; try the daily coffee special. You will enjoy the flavor and the atmosphere, where the look is lean and inviting.
Slate Coffee Bar presents hand-brewed coffee, espresso, espresso and milk, as well as pastries, tea, tasting flights, and an industry favorite: the deconstructed espresso and milk. They keep their menu minimal in order to highlight the coffee itself. This is a small family operated specialty coffee roasting and retail cafe.
Vif Wine and Coffee. The coffee is direct trade from small farms in origin countries. They source their coffee from select micro-roasters and larger ethical roasters, who have well-established relationships with their growers. Ingredients for the food prepared in the café comes from local farmers, global artisans and their own backyards. The shop has a spare industrial look with big windows and plenty of light wood.
Milstead & Co. may be found in new temporary digs at 900 N 34th St, not far from their original location. Their menu features fine coffees from renowned roasters: Stumptown, Intelligentsia, and Coava.
Cafe Ladro. Consider the quaint and colorful surroundings of the Lower Queen Anne Café Ladro as your cozy coffee corner. We love the tangerine walls, the marble faced counter, and the windows on the world, as a setting for stupendous coffee. Hungry? There is always something tempting in the pastry display. Their scones are delicious.
Espresso Vivace Alley. Enjoy coffee in a modern-meets-Renaissance setting, with the orange boomerang laminate surfboard inspired tables, art deco furniture, dark espresso brown walls, and some of your most charming figures from the high Renaissance peering over your shoulder from the art on the walls. As one patron says of the coffee, latte and espresso, it is as close as you can get to Rome without going to Italy. We also love the bicycles overhead.
Analog Coffee will please you with the pared-down décor, the great newspaper art wall, as well as the music, provided by an exhaustive collection of vinyl records. Have it all: great coffee and good vibes, perfect for relaxing, reading, and reflecting on one’s day. Capitol Hill’s residential area is the better for the near-perfect latte, at this hidden gem. Did we mention the doughnuts and pastries?
Stumptown Coffee Roasters has wonderful espresso drinks, coffee and pastries. Have the Americano with pumpkin bread, or the French Press variety with a Lemon Ginger muffin. You will appreciate the friendly atmosphere and baristas.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. Can we say wow now for the white vintage terra cotta clad exterior and the vastly woody welcoming interior? Those big windows set the framework for coffee indulgence of every kind. There’s a whole lot of roasting going on, and you can watch it all, from bean and bag, to café and cup. If an amusement park married a coffee shop, this would be their offspring. Savor it all. Try one of the ice cream coffee drinks.
Seattle Coffee Works beckons next, with a delicious latte, a cappuccino, or a cafe au lait. Have one of their locally made pastries or scones. You’ll appreciate the ambiance, from the slowbar, and the just right rectangular or round wooden tables, to the décor of exposed brick, and yellow accents. Just look for the standing man sipping coffee, their sign and their logo.
Elm Coffee Roasters offers a sleek setting with great wood accents to greet you, and the aroma of the coffee you have been seeking. There’s plenty of seating, minimalist clean lines, and windows for watching the roasting happen. Some claim it is the best cup of coffee in Seattle. The food is also outstanding.
East & South of Downtown
Broadcast Coffee provides its patrons with fresh, industrial big windows, and nice banquette or individual seating. Settle in, with a macchiato, a hand crafted espresso, or a mocha, as well as a doughnut. Definitely, the French Toast Doughnut.
QED Coffee is great for any emergency you have brewing, as well as a relaxing respite in your day. The look is crisp and modern with some great art, in a little coffee shop off the beaten path. In addition to the scrumptious coffee selections, they offer bagels, pastries, and juices. Have the hemp milk latte, or the Brew Dr. Kombucha, and accompany it with their spinach cheese pastry.
Victrola. We are crazy about the big neighborhood map mural, the vintage bentwood chairs, and the fabulous Victrola logo in the window. The coffee is delish, and the foam art on the espresso is a feast for the eyes. You have to go, and savor, and be sure to enjoy one of their lattice topped pastries.
Although this is a pretty big list, we know there are tons of coffee shops in Seattle! Did we miss your favorite? Or, do you have a favorite drink from one of these? Share it with us in the comments!