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There’s no shortage of good coffee in Seattle. (Or great cocktails—check out Paul Clarke’s feature article on Seattle’s bar scene in our November/December 2011 issue.) Back in the 1980s and ’90s, Seattle was the birthplace of the American espresso craze. More recently, other cities have taken their turns in the spotlight, and some critics have declared the Seattle coffee scene stale. But a tour of these 20 coffee shops—many of them newcomers to the city—proves that Seattle’s coffee community is alive and well, and as passionate as ever.
This stunning Capitol Hill space has something for everybody: Chemex-brewed Stumptown coffee, an inventive brunch menu, a great selection of beer and wine, and a steady lineup of art and music events.
1550 E. Olive Way, 206-347-6093, arabicalounge.com
Aster Coffee Lounge
Head to this Ballard shop for Stumptown offerings brewed on a Seattle-made Clover machine, Synesso-pulled shots from the venerable Olympia Coffee Roasting Co., well-curated wine and beer lists, and a variety of tastings and events.
5615 24th Ave. N.W., 206-784-0615, astercoffeelounge.com
Caffé Vita Coffee Roasting Co.
From its beginnings as a Queen Anne coffeehouse in 1995, Vita has remained adamant about quality. Visit any of its six Seattle cafés for first-rate, farm-direct coffee and espresso.
Six locations, caffevita.com
Get your hands on Stumptown Coffee, Rishi Tea, and pastries from Macrina and Le Fournil in the formerly underserved White Center neighborhood.
9910 Eighth Ave. S.W., 206-708-6806, dubseacoffee.com
Empire Espresso Bar
Visit this Columbia City café for fresh brews from Kuma Coffee, and don’t skip the house waffles and crêpes.
3829 S. Edmunds St., 206-659-0588, empireespressobar.blogspot.com
Operating on Capitol Hill since 1988, Vivace was a pioneer in the local and national espresso craze, and it’s the home of the now-classic rosetta latte-art design. All three locations are worth checking out, but definitely visit the Sidewalk Bar on Broadway, which has been a fixture on the storied street for more than two decades.
Three locations, espressovivace.com
Equal Exchange Espresso Bar
An outpost of the national Equal Exchange co-op, this espresso bar inside the Ballard Market offers socially conscious espresso brewed on a Seattle-made Slayer machine, complete with organic milk.
1400 N.W. 56th St., 206-783-4955, equalexchangeespresso.com
This little PhinneyWood roastery is serious about good coffee. Visit either of Herkimer’s beloved neighborhood coffee bars to taste roaster Scott Richardson’s handiwork.
7320 Greenwood Ave. N., 206-784-0202; 5611 University Way N.E., 206-525-5070; herkimercoffee.com
Visit this microroaster’s self-styled Wallingford retail location to taste the latest direct-trade coffees from hard-working roaster Mark Barany.
4110 Stone Way Ave. N., 206-633-5862, kumacoffee.com
This tiny café/roastery has been churning out top-notch coffee since 1994. Get a French press of fresh-roasted coffee, and hang out in the cozy, no-frills environs.
400 North 43rd St., 206-633-4444, lighthouseroasters.com
This eclectic Greenwood coffeehouse features a range of single-origin coffees and blends from Ballard microroaster Seven to a steady stream of neighborhood locals.
153 N. 78th St., 206-782-1489, makedacoffee.com
Milstead & Co.
This new arrival from celebrated local barista Andrew Milstead is caffeinating Fremont with a range of coffees from Stumptown, Coava and Chicago-based Intelligentsia.
770 N. 34th St., 206-979-0010, milsteadandco.com
Greenwood’s other resident roastery has won local cult status with its solid single-origin espresso and coffees, and its visible owner Dan Baumfield, who’s prone to hosting popular events like Arrested Development Trivia Night.
8415 Greenwood Ave. N., neptunecoffee.com
Porchlight Coffee and Records
Local Herkimer coffee, Macrina pastries and Zatz bagels, plus a carefully curated selection of new and used vinyl, have made this two-year-old Capitol Hill shop a neighborhood favorite.
1515 14th Ave., 206-329-5461, porchlightcoffee.com
Seattle Coffee Works
Just up the street from Pike Place Market, this coffee bar, tasting room and roastery offers a range of single-origin coffees—some brewed on a Seattle-made Trifecta machine. Check out the “slow bar” cupping lab, where they encourage customers to play with their coffee.
107 Pike St., 206-340-8867, seattlecoffeeworks.com
The Portland, Oregon-based biggest little coffee roaster in the country burst onto the Seattle scene in 2007 with these two stylish Capitol Hill cafés, recharging the local coffee scene with its own brand of relationship-coffee cool.
1115 12th Ave., 206-323-1544; 616 E. Pine St., 206-329-0115; stumptowncoffee.com
Tougo Coffee Co.
This family-friendly coffeehouse in the Central District brews coffees from Stumptown, Intelligentsia, local roaster Velton’s and San Francisco’s Ritual Coffee.
1410 18th Ave., 206-860-3518, tougocoffee.com
Trabant Coffee and Chai
Blame the Vancouver, B.C.-roasted 49th Parallel coffee, the Clover and La Marzocco machines, or the housemade pastries—in seven years Trabant has made itself an institution.
1309 N.E. 45th St., 206-675-0668; 602 Second Ave.; trabantcoffee.com
Victrola Coffee Roasters
A Capitol Hill institution for 11 years, Victrola recently expanded to a second Capitol Hill location—the lovely, airy Victrola Roastery and Café, where it hosts free public cuppings every week.
Three locations, victrolacoffee.com
Zoka Coffee Roaster & Tea Co.
After it opened in 1996, and before the recent wave of new-school coffee bars, this roaster was a major player in the local coffee scene. Zoka broke its own laidback, comfy coffeehouse mold with its recent Kirkland Zoka, a cutting-edge contender complete with a single-origin espresso bar featuring a Slayer espresso machine.
Four locations, zokacoffee.com