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Espresso- no Starbucks swill

Planning a trip to Seattle-Vancouver in June, and being coffee geeks it seems a java quest is mandatory, particularly in Seattle. Looking for coffee joints that get it (and Seattle is the heartland, n'est-ce pas?) and PLEASE none of that Starbucks burnt coffee crap.

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  1. it's a bit out of the way but in Seattle, Lighthouse Espresso, in Fremont/Phinney Ridge, is exquisite. They roast their own beans on the premises.

    Other than that, I haven't been to any Seattle coffeehouses recently enough to comment, but I have fond memories of Bauhaus, Victrola, Caffe Paradiso, and Avalon. (If any of those places are still open!)

    You should add Portland to your tour, there are a lot of places that "get it" down here.

    1. IMHO you should hit Vivace (Broadway & Denny in Capital Hill). They roast their own, so you can buy beans (I've got a fresh pound in my kitchen right now) and their coffee is fantastic--smooth, creamy, NOT burnt (I agree with you re: Starbucks). They have good cookies too. Enjoy your trip!


      1. Do not miss Vivace Roasteria.


        I'd also highly recommend Lighthouse Roasters.

        1. You must try Vivace. A trip to Seattle means you must; this is the real deal, and hard to top.
          However, Victrola is good as well (on 15th ave, Capital Hill).
          I second the poster who recommended Portland, whose extraordinary Stumptown coffee is not to be missed . . . among many other wonderful cafes.

          1. This query gets posted with some frequency. Here's a link to a recent post:


            These are some of my faves:
            Espresso Vivace
            Caffe Vita

            1. Here's my list

              Cafe Ladro
              Cafe Zoka www.zokacoffee.com

              1. Second the recs for Vivace and Victrola. I also REALLY like Cafe Fiore on top of Queen Anne. They have a shop in Crown Hill as well but I haven't been there yet. Even the half-and-half is sans hormones!

                1. Caffe Umbria in Pioneer Square, in Occidental Park. It's a third-generation, from-Italy operation and they make amazing espresso.

                  If it's drip you're after, I'd get yourself to ZOKA near Green Lake... Dark, complex and the best drip in the city in my opinion.

                  1. I've recently discovered excellent espresso being traditionally pulled at Tutta Bella in Wallingford.

                    Yes I know, it is more a restaurant/pizza joint than a cafe (and a chain to boot), but the espresso is definitely made with care. Also, while you're sipping that wonderfully creamy and complex juice of life you can enjoy some nice tiramisu or gelato too!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: suppergirl

                      I second the call for Tutta Bella. Wonderful coffee minus the over-roasted/burnt flavor you get from the like of Starbucks. Nice balance in the beans and not too bitter like you find at places like Cafe Vita.

                      Cafe Umbria does a excellent job also...... I think they have a sister store around the convention center that also does a good job

                    2. There used to be a place on Capital Hill in Seattle called the Puss Puss a few years back,was on pike or pine and I don't know where they got that coffee but it was goooooooooooooood and you wouldn't want to drink it at night cause it keep you up for 8 hours.
                      If anybody knows what name brand coffee they used to serve or another coffee shop in the Seattle area that has it please reply.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: billjriv

                        Puss-Puss Cafe served Vivace and pulled the best shots in Seattle.

                      2. When I used to work in Madison Park, there was a great coffee shop called Arosa in Arboretum Court. The guy who owned it would roast his own beans and the result was a lovely, full flavored but not harsh cup of espresso. he also would make the best belgian waffles and panini sandwiches - artichoke hearts/tomato/gruyere and black forest ham/tomato/gruyere...yum yum yummy.

                        It has been a couple years since I've been there and I believe it's now korean owned, but my brother picked up a sandwich from there a couple months ago and it was just as excellent as i remember.

                        1. Totally agree about Lighthouse coffee! Cafe Solstice (on University Ave and in Seward Park across from PCC) is now serving (and selling) Lighthouse coffee. The absolute smoothest coffee around (even the decaf!!)

                          1. I'll add Stumptown (from Portland) there are 2 locations in Seattle .. one next door to Caffe Presse on 12th .. the other near Rudy's on Pine .. both Cap Hill ... they also have exotic whole bean coffee varieties to take home.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: oliveoyl

                              Stumptown! Stumptown! A Stumptown latte is divine. A Stumptown Americano is divine. If I were a purist, I'm sure I'd love to drink it straight.

                              I drive 90 miles from Bellingham to get those beans. (Granted, I usually do a few other fun things too, but it's mostly about stocking up.)

                              1. re: Vetter

                                All due respect, I think stumptown is overrated. But I will second (third, fourth...) everyone here who recommends Vivace...go now while you can enjoy their beautiful location on Denny right off Broadway, before it becomes a victim of light rail construction.

                                Also, you shouldn't sweath planning too much...the fact is, there are good cups of espresso EVERYWHERE in Seattle, you can pretty much grab one anywhere you start to feel thirsty, or sleepy, or whatever.

                                1. re: pusherman

                                  Funny enough, I think Vivace is overrated and I prefer Stumptown.

                            2. Vivace is the place to go like what everyone else says!!!!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: adeptation

                                I would drive across town to Vivace. Diva Espresso is in my neighborhood and I drink their espresso daily. I love the drip coffee at Pete's. Cafe Lladro is another favorite. Lots of good coffee in Seattle.

                              2. While Peet's is not from Seattle I really like their beans and latte. The other coffee recommendations are good as well. Besalou in Ballard has great coffee and the croissant is delicious due to the butter content.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: tedfood

                                  I'd walk down the street to Java Bean for a better pour of coffee, but I'd definitely get my pastry at Besalu.

                                  Actually, recently, I've been walking down to Aster for some Intelligentia coffee out of the Clover, but I still love the Bean too.

                                  Fuel Coffee is my favorite local chain, but that's a personal preference and Cafe Vita (whom they serve) is just as good.