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Feb 1, 2013 05:40 PM

Does Seattle have it's own cool coffee place like Intelligensia or Blue Bottle?

Thinking about a trip to Seattle. No offense but I've noticed the only sophisticated coffee places in Seattle were imports like Stumptown from Portland. Your Caffe Vita looks ok. Does Seattle have cool, sophisticated coffee places like Blue Bottle from SF or Intelligensia from Chicago/LA? I'm talking amazing coffee in a cool setting like reclaimed wood, etc. You know the look. Seems like Seattle coffee places are a bit ma and pa. Thanks guys.

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    1. Industrial chic, converted warehouses, beards and flannelette shirts aren't as cool when you notice that every coffee house is doing it, with minor variations on the theme - the hipster uniform has too many forms of conscious and inadvertent irony to dissect - still, they're earnest, charming and turn out good coffee, and that's the most important thing.

      16 Replies
      1. re: mugen

        Again. Very helpful. Seems like Seattle is way behind the times in terms of coffee environment. Coffee should be a crafted culinary experience in a gorgeous space. It's happening in LA, SF and Portland but as far as I can tell, not Seattle.

        1. re: ralston6000

          For myself, I am glad to hear your report that Seattle is not yet a maximo-snob (sorry, a "crafted culinary experience in a gorgeous space") place for coffee.

          We may be just down-home folks, but we do have a lot of folks who know how to brew or pull a damn fine cup. Even out here in my town of Twisp, a town of 800, we have a great local roaster, Blue Star.

          1. re: RandyB


            Decor does not a coffee culture make. Our "ma and pa" coffee scene has been leading the way for more than three decades, since the days when all you could get in cities like Chicago and LA were Folger's and Maxwell House.

            1. re: Gizmo56


              For the OP....

              Being a coffee loving Angelino & born and raised in Seattle I can honestly say....
              Give me Vivace, or any other innovative coffee place in Seattle, any day of the week 24/7 over Intelligensia in LA or Blue Bottle in SF....
              A hipster, 'cool' vibe decor does not a great pulled shot make.
              I suggest you do some research...'ma and pa' isn't at all what would be considered even remotely accurate in describing Seattle's coffee scene and never has been.

              1. re: latindancer

                Thanks. I'll try Vivace. It certainly looks "colorful". Not exactly what I was looking for but I will certainly try it. One thing I noticed about people responding is that they don't seem to like an urban chic, hip whatever atmosphere. Would you say the same thing to someone wanting "great food in a rustic atmosphere"? Would you say, rustic doesn't make the food, "do your research." Anyway. I appreciate the recommendation, though, really.

                1. re: ralston6000

                  I have a degree of loyalty, which can often time come across as defensive, when it comes to my previous hometown and coffee.
                  i, honorably, was one of the first to try the icon David Schomer's Vivace coffee in the early '80's when he pulled shots on a kiosk on the side of the street.
                  David's roasting method has been taught and learned from some the great roasters all over the world. He eventually relocated to a space on Capital Hill, in Seattle, which turns out some of the best espresso I've ever tasted....nothing, in my opinion, matches it...
                  Can't say I've known any of the other posters, but Seattle, in itself, is very urban chic and hip. Frankly, I've never considered Portland, in any way, competitive with Seattle when it comes to food (including some of the finest bakeries), wine, art, coffee, innovative music, of course the geographical setting against the beautiful Puget Sound and a myriad of other subjects on a list too long to mention. Perhaps I'm missing something?

                  1. re: latindancer

                    I'm so glad. I am definitely excited to check Seattle out. Thanks.

                  2. re: ralston6000

                    Another place to try when you go to Seattle :)...

                    Stumptown....I think you'd like it also.

            2. re: ralston6000

              I couldn't disagree more.

              The cold, industrial warehouse-type spaces where ironically mustachioed trendoids pretend to enjoy drinking black lemonade couldn't be more off-putting to me.

              I was in Seattle for the first time over the Labor Day weekend, and found it incredibly refreshing that their coffee culture is still holding the line. Cozy, warm, inviting spaces, and true medium roasts (well-balanced sour and bitter flavors). Contrast with Coava in Portland, for example, who say their roasts are medium, but are actually all light roasts.

              In my opinion this trend towards light roasting everything is simply awful. One day this trend, like all trends, will correct itself. People will start to wake up and realize again that coffee is meant to be an enjoyable experience, not a punch in the mouth that you have to learn to tolerate (oh, I mean "appreciate"), in cold warehouse spaces where you can't hear your friend speak over the echo of annoying house music.

              Mr Taster
              (Who, after 40 years on this planet, drank a Vivace latte and finally realized why people are crazy for espresso.)

              1. re: Mr Taster

                +1. Parallels with overhopped IPAs abound.

                1. re: kaleokahu


                  Are pigs flying, kaleo? Why are we agreeing with each other so often these days?

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    Thanks Mr Taster for reviving this thread, which I missed when playing catchup on the Seattle board in preparation for our June trip. Lots of interesting posts here.

                    We really liked Slate of the various coffee spots we were able to try (there are many more of course) but it skews more third wave than Vivace, we thought. It also is a very cool if small space which might appeal to the OP if he is still around.

                    We happen to be big Coava fans, and have become acquainted with one of the roasters there over our several visits, so we'll have to agree to disagree on that, but if you find yourself back in Portland, you might want to check out their newish space on Hawthorne, which is cozier than the original. We like to drink our coffee off a drill press, so we'll be heading out to SE Grand in October :-).

              2. re: mugen

                +1, Mugen. The whole reclaimed wood warehouse space is so cliche, I don't know how anyone can actually think that's sophisticated. Chains have spaces that look like this!

                I've also been to locations of Intelligensia in Chicago and Stumptown in Portland and they were just coffee shops. Nothing like you describe in terms of decor. Maybe that's just one special flagship location that has the decor you like.

              3. I'm afraid I don't pay much attention to the decoration, but I can say something about the coffee. Seattle has many excellent roasters. My favorite is Herkimer, followed by Seattle Coffee Works. Vivace, Zoka, Umbria, Vita and Ladro also come to mind. Trabant doesn't roast their own (they mostly use Kuma, another local roaster), but they do have Clover machines, which are kind of nice.

                You can find pictures of these places on Yelp, or their respective websites, and see if any of them have the appearance you're looking for.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Scrofula

                  Thanks! This is great. I will check them all out!

                  1. re: ralston6000

                    Sure. Victrola, Lighthouse and Milstead are other places that often come up in these discussions. I don't think Milstead roasts their own, but I hear they do a good pour-over.

                    1. re: Scrofula

                      Milstead fits the bill EXACTLY so far. You did good. Thanks again.

                2. i vote for the dark horse: kaladi. last i heard, they roast in Juneau and Seattle is their lower-48 post. great barisatas, even over the years.

                  1. The original comment has been removed