If you can't find an espresso café within a block of any Seattle shopping district, your eyes are closed and you've lost your sense of smell. It’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to coffee in this place where coffee consumption tops that of any other American city. With hundreds of espresso bars, carts, and drive-throughs all over Seattle, you would be hard-pressed to not find a great cup of java.
The most famous, of course, is Starbucks (www.starbucks.com), with dozens of shops scattered across the city. The original shop is in the Pike Place Market — note the company’s original and rather risqué logo on the front window — you won't see this at other Starbucks. Named for the first mate in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Starbucks is considered by many the godfather of quality coffee in the Northwest. That first store opened in 1971, offering dark-roasted beans and a commitment to quality; roasted beans more than a week old are given to charities.
Also of note are Tully’s Coffee (www.tullys.com) and Seattle’s Best Coffee (www.seattlesbest.com), both of which have a dozen or so Seattle shops. Tully’s took over the old Rainier brewery in Seattle a few years back, while Seattle’s Best Coffee is actually owned by Starbucks! Even when you think they don’t have ya, they do…
Roasteria (321 Broadway E., Capitol Hill, 206/860-5869, www.espressovivace.com, 6:30 a.m.–11 p.m. daily) is a great little walk-up spot for espresso in the heart of Capitol Hill. It also has a second, larger shop downtown (901 E. Denny Way, 206/860-5869, same hours).
Cafe Septieme (214 Broadway E., 206/860-8858, www.cafeseptieme.com, 9 a.m.–11:45 p.m. daily) has the charm of a Parisian café and is a romantic place to enjoy a big bowl of cappuccino.
Other great places to sip espresso are Caffe Ladro (600 Queen Anne Ave. N., 206/282-1549, www.caffeladro.com, 5:30 a.m.–11 p.m. daily) in Queen Anne, Diva Espresso Bar (7916 Greenwood Ave. N., 206/781-1213. 7 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 8 a.m.–8 p.m. Sun.) and Caffè Umbria (320 Occidental Ave. S., 206/624-5847, www.caffeumbria.com) in Pioneer Square.
The Bistro (709 N. 35th St., 206/547-9850) is a wonderful espresso house that also serves healthy sandwiches, rich soups, and chocolate desserts in a bright and oft-crowded café.
A rambling old home contains one of the U District’s classic places, Grand Illusion Coffeehouse (NE 50th St. and University Way NE, 206/523-3935). The student crowd sprawls in the funky chairs and couches, sipping coffee, reading books, and waiting for films in the adjacent art-house theater.
Another old favorite — it opened in 1975 — is just a few blocks down. Cafe Allegro (42141/2 University Way NE, facing the alley on 15th St., 206/633-3030, www.cafeallegro.com, 6 a.m.–10:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 7 a.m.–10:30 p.m. Sat., 7:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m. Sun.) is a popular sit-down-and-stay-awhile espresso house with three rooms spread over two floors.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition