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Dec 11, 2008 12:56 PM

Best Whole Bean/Ground Coffee in Seattle?

I'm visiting Seattle for a few days and would like to buy some good local coffee to take home. I am not particularly fond of Starbucks, but any coffee that is well sourced and preferably organic would be great. Any suggestions?

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  1. Try Cafe Vita or Stumptown. Both have locations on Capitol Hill or Vita has locations in Fremont and Lower Queen Anne.

    4 Replies
    1. re: amyh18

      A second for Caffe Vita. You can their logo in the windows of lots of coffee shops. Those are the ones I hope to find when I need a cup. Many enjoy Lighthouse Roasters or Vivace, though I can't say, as I am happy with Caffe Vita.

      1. re: mrnelso

        I think Vivace is espresso only? I know that's all they serve in their stores. For a little more variety -- Vita is great, and seems to be the food service of choice around Seattle restaurants. I've also had good luck with Ladro. I'm not a huge fan of stumptown, and anyway, they're not really local if that's what your going for.

        1. re: pusherman

          I've recently become a fan of Diva Espresso's own roast. Fun too that they create a roast for each astrological phase (in addition to their regular blends), my new favorite small gift for folks.

          Here is Libra: Peaceful blend: Refined, balanced, harmonious, soothing, smooth and pleasing.

          1. re: zoogrrrl

            In the past, I have done much coffee taste testing to find a strong coffee without an acid/bitter taste and Diva's Highlands Blend is the only coffee that I buy any more. I didn't post it earlier because I don't know of it's source/organic-ness. But I can say that it is, by far, the best coffee I've found.

    2. Stumptown is solid. Maybe I'm biased. Or infatuated. The founder, Duane Sorenson, is my coffee hero.

      "Mr. Sorenson is one of the people who have remade the coffee business, searching the world for the best beans, roasting them with exquisite attention and preparing them to order at his six cafes in Portland and Seattle, which will remain open while he is in New York.

      He’s forged an outsider identity for himself and his company. He is both selective about and demanding of his wholesale customers, requiring training for anyone who will handle Stumptown’s coffee and commissioning the occasional unannounced spot check. And for a long time, if a Stumptown employee couldn’t drive your coffee to you from one of the company’s two roasteries, in Portland and Seattle, you were out of luck. (Mr. Sorenson broke that prohibition in March by supplying Ninth Street Espresso in the East Village.)" -NYT

      I dislike Vita for many reasons-- consistency is one. Attitude is another. But what gets me most is that Vita is popping up like Starbucks everywhere across the city. Granted that may be a slight hyperbole. But that's how it feels to me.

      Stumptown is expanding more gracefully. At Ninth Street Espresso-- the only place I trust for proper espresso in Manhattan-- the baristas know Duane and worship his coffee. I bought my beans there when I was living in Brooklyn and it was the perfect, most comforting gesture to the Northwest.

      That said most any independent coffeehouse in Seattle is going to be far better than the meager options on the East coast.

      My recs:
      ---> solid
      Stumptown - brews stumptown - CAPITOL HILL
      Victrola - brews victrola - CAPITOL HILL
      Zeitgeist - brews illy - PIONEER SQUARE (go to Salumi around the corner for Armandino's legendary cured meats)

      ---> can vary, but generally quite good
      Joe Bar - brews fonte - CAPITOL HILL - (licensed, also serves a tasty jamon serrano and gruyere crepe)
      Uptown - brews fonte - BELLTOWN

      Vivace and Vita are also quite good quality but I'm not really into them at all. Ladro is fine.
      If you were to go to the Fremont Vita. Walk down the block to Paseo for lunch. Their Caribbean sandwiches ---> food orgasm.

      Enjoy Seattle!

      2 Replies
      1. re: sophie.

        Pretty sure Zeitgeist brews their own roasts - Diplomat for drip, El Presidente for espresso. They're roasted at the Top Pot uptown (same owners.)

        1. re: terrier

          Thanks. That was the one I was unsure of. I love Zeitgeist. And I was surprised when I searched and it showed they brewed Illy. It's unclear on their website (which is weird).

      2. Victrola Coffee on 15th Avenue East or E Pike Street on Capitol Hill is the best in town if you're looking for a real "Seattle-roasted coffee". LOTS of options for drip & espresso, knowledgeable staff and you can watch them roast on weekdays at Pike St cafe.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sarahjunk

          We love Victorla. Some of the best coffee we had on Capitol Hill. Nice atmosphere, too.
          Have to second Zeitgeist. Really, really good brew. We went there only for the coffee, not for anything else. The coffee was terrific, the ambience, too!