Recommended cafes in downtown Seattle

Talk about your favorite cafes, local barista events, or plan your own get-together.
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HB
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Postby HB » Apr 19, 2016, 3:56 pm

The latest thread Recommendations for a week in Seattle was from last summer. I'll be in Seattle on business for a couple days near Pike Place Fish Market. Recommendations that are within walking distance or short drive? Thanks!
Dan Kehn

mivanitsky
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Postby mivanitsky » Apr 19, 2016, 4:05 pm

I have only been to their excellent Ballard location, but Slate has a location at Pioneer Square. 602 2nd Ave
Seattle, WA 98104. Good coffee, espresso, and fun "coffee flights."

Mike

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keno
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Postby keno » Apr 19, 2016, 4:05 pm

La Marzocco just opened their first cafe in Seattle this month. If you didn't already have this on your agenda, I'd check it out.

Behold, Espresso Machine Expert La Marzocco's First Café

Of course there's the Starbucks Roastery and Reserve and right across the street is Victrola Coffee Roasters.

ds
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Postby ds » Apr 19, 2016, 4:20 pm

Seattle Coffee Works right there on Pike.

roadman
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Postby roadman » Apr 19, 2016, 4:21 pm

Milstead is about a 10 minute drive from Pike Place.

They serve a good variety of coffees from highly regarded roasters, competently prepared by friendly, knowledgeable baristas. Doesn't get much better than this place (IMVHO!)

It's always top on our list when out of town coffee pals come calling.

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Postby HB » Apr 20, 2016, 10:23 am

Years ago at the last SCAA conference in Seattle, I visited one of the Cafe Vita locations. Being only 2 minutes away on foot, I stopped by this morning:

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The location is cozy with only one booth and two tables. I asked if they had a daily single origin espresso, since it's become common in cafes I've visited the last couple years to have a fruity/brighter straight espresso for aficionados who aren't into a lot of milk with their coffee. The barista said they serve their house blend for straight shots. No problem! When evaluating an espresso, I find it helpful to try it au naturel and as a cappuccino:

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Slightly smoky and gentle chocolates, the espresso was close to what I remember from my last visit. Maybe a little tamer on the roast side? I wondered prior to my visit if the rising popularity of lighter, fruitier coffees would influence the bastion of Starbucks USA. It's only one data point, but so far, it looks that way.

I would have taken more photos, but judging from the sidelong looks I got, I thought it better to keep it to a minimum. Anyway, for such a small shop, they spared no expense on equipment:

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They had various muffins and pastries for sale, plus the usual bagged coffee. If you're into coffee memorabilia, they've got you covered too:

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Overall, a nicely pulled espresso and cappuccino. If most cafes around my home were like this and only minutes away, it'd be hard(er) to justify spending money on my own equipment.
Dan Kehn

Kipp
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Postby Kipp » Apr 20, 2016, 11:40 am

Always worth a trip back to the Old School for re-calibration at Espresso Vivace. The robusta is long gone but the flavor is so close you will still get Deja Vu.

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Postby rittem1 » Apr 22, 2016, 4:02 pm

Did you get a chance to visit any other noteworthy cafes during your visit to our fine city?
LMWDP #517

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Postby HB » Apr 23, 2016, 9:50 am

Definitely! I'll catch up on the reports this weekend. The next stop was minutes from the office at Caffe d'Arte:

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Again I ordered an espresso and cappuccino. While a double drink order for one person is typical for me, apparently it's unusual enough that most of the Seattle baristas have asked if that's what I meant. This particular location was larger than Vita and featured some home equipment (Nuova Simonelli Oscar). Next to the espresso machine was this grinder lineup:

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In addition to the all-around better coffee in Seattle, I'm also going to miss the attention to service details. Water is served with the drink and you may even get a chocolate or biscuit to nibble on:

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Depending on the cafe, apparently the water is flat or sparkling. NIce touch. The espresso at d'Arte was deep and darkly chocolate with nicely lingering roast flavor.

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If you're looking for an authentic, traditional Italian espresso, d'Arte is a very good choice. The cappuccino was quite good too. The side chocolate had melted slightly resting against the espresso cup, so I figured it might be a nice finisher at the bottom of the cappuccino (and it was :D). I may start experimenting with that, i.e., a melted chocolate surprise at the bottom of the cup.
Dan Kehn

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Postby HB » Apr 23, 2016, 4:03 pm

Since my flight departure time allowed for a cafe visit, I stopped by Milstead's first thing in the morning (and I was their first customer of the day). The hotel wasn't serving breakfast when I left, so I was happy to see a nice selection of muffins and pastries:

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Unlike the other two cafes I stopped by, Milstead's has a daily single origin espresso and a bright one at that:

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The barista weighed the dose with great care and pulled a long 3-to-1 brew ratio to emphasize fruitiness. I mentioned I was a home espresso aficionado (they were unsure if they'd ever heard of home-barista.com :|). We chatted about brew ratios and similar geeky topics; for the cappuccino, they use a more traditional 2-to-1 brew ratio and a Colombian coffee:

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Who could say no to a muffin named "Morning Glory"? It seemed fitting for a week filled with gloriously wonderful weather. Isn't Seattle supposedly cloudy? Not this week; nothing but clear, gloriously blue skies and wonderful mild temperatures.

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The single origin espresso was crisp, clean, and fruity. The longer pull tamed the acidity, though personally I would have pulled it tighter in hopes of increasing the sweetness.

The bar sported two La Marzocco Stradas:

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Of the three cafes I visited, this one was the most "3rd wave" influenced, i.e., lightly roasted and emphasis on the coffee origin. Although they said the cappuccino was pulled as a true double, the Colombian was a bit lost in the modest volume of milk. If I were serving this coffee, I would try either increasing the dose or serving it as Cortado milk volumes. That said, I was glad to have visited Milstead's to experience less traditionally prepared Italian espresso; I would definitely return to try more of their selections.

Although there was no time for it during my visit, they explained they offer single serving coffees with an Aeropress:

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That's something I've yet to see around here. Counter Culture Coffee has a few Aeropress fans on its staff; I need to give it a try soon.
Dan Kehn

 
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