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SEA Coffee: Vivace, Victrola or Cafe Besalu?

We'll be in town for a quick visit in a couple weeks and have the meals semi-planned (Crush, Tilth, Sitka & Spruce or Canlis), but I'm a bit unsure about where to go for coffee. Will have car, but am staying in the Eastside w/friends in Bellevue.

I'm also hoping to take back some local roasts back to Orange County, CA, so those recommendations are also welcome.

Thank you! =)

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    1. This is an interesting question. I think it depends on what kind of coffee you want to drink. For beans I would say Café Vita, for espresso I think Vivace makes one of the best shots in town. For vibe the first Victorola location on 15th is the hands down best.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Charles

        I like my coffee plain & simple; no foam, no milk...the unadulterated pour.

      2. For some super-fresh gourmet beans, you might want to check out Caffe Lusso in Redmond. The espresso stand at the Redmond Whole Foods serves it, but I'd stop by their roastery (sp?) and see if you can get the beans straight from there. Incredibly tasty coffee. I've never been able to enjoy black coffee until I tried theirs.


        1. Vivace and Victrola are both outstanding roasters (I've never been to Besalu). I like the folks and the people-watching at Victrola better. I'm also deeply hooked on the macaroons they serve.

          1. Go to Cupcake Royale on Capitol hill, and get Stumptown. Yes, the beans are actually roasted in Portland, but it's top notch, and you can get cupcakes and enjoy the surroundings.

            5 Replies
            1. re: dnamj

              The stumptown coffee at Cupcake Royale is roasted in seattle at their Capital Hill store.

              1. re: kaplaba

                Stumptown is usually what I bring to friends.

                I hang around and get drinks at Victrola and Vivace, but my preference is for the beans from Stumptown.

                1. re: kaplaba

                  It looks like there are two: one on Pine and the other on 12th. Does it matter which location?

                  And thank you guys for this tip! =)

                  1. re: OCAnn

                    I like the pine street location- it has a neighborhood feel and there are seats in the window. They serve Macrina bakery goods.

                2. re: dnamj

                  Stumptown roasts its beans for Seattle in Seattle.

                3. Besalu is all about pastry, coffee is not an afterthought necessarily, but not the main focus. I don't drink much coffee so I couldn't tell you whose beans they use. Do stop in for pastry if you make it to Ballard, but maybe not worth the pilgrimage if you are only after coffee.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: babette feasts

                    A late entry, but for future reference, the coffee at Besalu is roasted by Lighthouse Roasters, a good local roaster located in the Fremont area of Seattle, although IMHO not quite in the same league as Vivace, Vita, and Victrola. If you're at Besalu for some pastry, including the deservedly legendary croissant, the Lighthouse coffee works just fine.

                  2. My two favorites are Stumptown (in capitol hill) and Cafe Vita ( multi locations- there is one in queen anne by the space needle and one capitol hill in the heart of the action).

                    1. Do it all. Visits to Vivace on Broadway, Caffe Vita on Pike, one of the Stumptown locations, and one of the Victrola locations would make a pretty nice walking tour of Capitol Hill if you can handle that much coffee in a single day.

                      Vivace's strength is much more their meticulous preparation than the quality of the beans. Get an espresso at Vivace and get your beans to bring home at Victrola or Caffe Vita. I don't like Stumptown as much as either of those, but your hipster friends will think you're the coolest kid on the block if you bring them back something with a Stumptown logo on it.

                      Visit Cafe Besalu for the pastries, which are probably the best in Seattle, not the coffee.

                      1. Thanks everyone for the tips! I will make a coffee run and will report back. =)

                        1. Zoka in Kirkland does great coffee and of the places you mentioned they are the only shop with a Slayer machine for single blends. Vivace, Victrola, Vita and great, Zoka is in the same class. Also don't avoid Diva, unless they have changed they use Batdorf and Bronson coffee who is as good a roaster as you will find.

                          Stumptown, well they are OK, but a step below the others.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Bubbamike

                            Diva's Highland Roast is my favorite coffee and totally under appreciated, imo.

                          2. Vivace is all about the shot. they roast their own beans but it is a relatively bitter roast that makes marginal @home espresso and horrible drip. However their claim to fame is that they pull double shots but they pull them short so it leaves all of the bitterness in the grounds. You get about the same amount of caffeine as a normal fully pulled single shot but smoother with more complex flavor. These shots don't need any dairy or sweetener.

                            1. Hi all-

                              Thank you for the very helpful suggestions. We were only able to hit Stumptown to buy four bags of beans, due to a full schedule. Loved them! They gave me an iced coffee (drank black) that was cold-brewed overnight. Very nice and smooth.

                              Did not have time for Cafe Vita, Vivace, Victrola, Zoka or Cafe Besalu (for pastries). I will save those for my next trip. Thank you all very much! =)

                              1. Hi folks, I wanted to do another follow up report from another recent trip to lovely Seattle. This time, we had less of a strict schedule and I was able to visit Cafe Vita, Vivace, Victrola and Stumptown, bringing back roasts from CV, Victrola & Stumptown. I wish so much that we have as many wonderful options as you do. I love all three and can't chose a favourite; thank you for making the recommendations! =D

                                1115 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: OCAnn

                                  Did you get to Besalu?

                                  Incidentally I think Lighthouse roasts some excellent coffee and although Besalu is rightfully acclaimed for its pastry (I think the croissants are world class and have never found one better .. and I have been looking) their baristas are excellent ... underrated in fact.

                                  Of course Seattle has many excellent coffee places. Although I really enjoy the Stumptown on 12th (I was cool to them as an Ore. import, until I found out they were roasting here and they have amazing cofee and branding) if you want to broaden your horizons a bit next time I can recommend Herkimer and Fonte as well. Both I think are competitive with the other recommendations you have received. Herkimer is a bit off the beaten path up on Phinney Ridge but I love it. A buddy of mine from Naples turned me on to them. You can hit Fonte downtown. They have a new spot on first avenue downstairs from the Four Seasons.

                                  1115 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

                                  1. re: klsalas

                                    Unfortunately, we never made it to Besalu. All of our focus was on downtown for food (mostly Tom Douglas restaurants) & coffee. No doubt I will be back to SEA in the future and I will check out Besalu & your other recommendations then! =)