“Coffee is our liquid sunshine in Seattle.” — Joshua Boyt, Victrola Coffee Roasters.
When in Seattle, your drink of choice should always be coffee.
Begin your caffeine-fueled sojourn with a pilgrimage to the site of the world’s first Starbucks outlet, which opened its doors in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1971.
While doing so, look to the city’s burgeoning independent café scene to understand why coffee is synonymous with life in Seattle. Witness how passion, knowledge, and creativity have given rise to expertly executed brews that will heighten your senses and raise your expectations of what a quality cuppa should entail.
It’s no surprise that Seattle has repeatedly been named the “best coffee city” in the US; most recently, they defeated 99 other contenders to rank No. 1 in a coffee survey by personal finance site WalletHub.
Read on for our guide to café-hopping during your Seattle holidays, with a few pointers on coffee trends and terminology to get you appraising your cuppa like a pro.
1. Milstead & Co
Credit: Dan Cole @ Milstead & Co. Seattle
“We’re not your typical grab and go. We find the best of the best in coffee and we like to educate our customers on the product. Perhaps that’s where the snob distinction comes from,” said owner Andrew Milstead to lifestyle website Seattle Refined.
Credit: Dan Cole @ Milstead & Co. Seattle
Though relatively young in the coffee scene, Milstead & Co has amassed an army of fans who will vouch for its attention to detail. This includes fastidiousness when it comes to brewing methods, and Bon Appétit has noted the café’s “dedication to AeroPress.”
Barista Tip: The AeroPress is a fuss-free gadget that quickly presses hot water through coffee. It has gained rave reviews for its simplicity, durability, and affordability, and above all, its uncanny ability to produce an excellent cup of coffee where flavours are easily discerned. These days, “aeropress” is also used as a verb, e.g. to aeropress a coffee. Click here to find other cafés in Seattle (and the rest of the world) that serve AeroPress brewed coffee.
2. Zeitgeist Coffee
Zeitgeist Coffee is first and foremost a community space, and second, a supporter of great coffee and quality art. Lonely Planet claims that it is “possibly” Seattle’s best and busiest coffeehouse, and a common stop on art-themed walking tours.
The coffee of choice at Zeitgeist is Illy coffee, rated by Wine Spectator magazine as the “gold standard in high-end restaurants and five-star hotels around the world.” Founded in 1933 in Trieste, Italy, Illy sources its coffee beans from 20 countries and offers just one blend—comprising nine Arabica beans exclusively produced for Illy. (Most specialty coffee is made from Arabica beans for superior taste.)
Barista Tip: If you are sipping your Illy espresso at Zeitgeist, resist the temptation to dilute your drink. “It’s not a pure coffee experience with milk,” warns Illycaffe’s CEO Andrea Illy.
3. La Marzocco
Once the primary supplier for Starbucks, Italian espresso machine maker La Marzocco opened its first café and showroom in Seattle last year. Here, coffee takes centrestage, and a monthly rotating roster of coffee brands ensures a refreshing experience for regulars.
Barista Tip: What is the best coffee in the world, and how can we recognise it? Trust your instincts and taste buds, says “coffee scientist” and author Shawn Steiman. In his book, The Little Coffee Know-It-All, he proffers the following advice: “There is no way to define quality in a way that suits every person, every time… Preference is subjective and this means diversity is something to celebrate. Thus, the only sufficient answer to this question is ‘whatever coffee you like the most.’”
4. Espresso Vivace
Espresso Vivace has been around since 1988, and its name loosely translates to mean “great enthusiasm and excitement for espresso.” This is where you go for one of the best espressos in the city, where superior taste is guaranteed by the chief quality controller a.k.a. owner David Schomer. In his words: “I’m very unhappy if there’s any bad espresso coming out of the machines.”
His unwavering dedication to crafting the perfect espresso appears to have paid off—reviews are stellar, with customers proclaiming the coffee “flawless,” “impossibly sweet,” and “one of the best coffees I ever had in my life.”
5. Tougo Coffee Co
Think of Tougo Coffee Co as a place where you can be yourself, and be accepted. Eater Seattle commends the decade-old café for being a “nerdy-not-jerky haven,” where even coffee novices will feel right at home.
Tougo is said to be as equally focused on community building as it is on its coffee, so remember to strike up a conversation with your friendly barista.
Barista Tip: To learn more about coffee brewing methods before picking one to try, visit the café’s official blog.
BONUS: 4 Coffee Picks From Pan Pacific Seattle
Need an additional energy boost for your Seattle excursions?
· Little Oddfellows: Books and coffee—the perfect combination.
· Royal Drummer: Trendy and cozy.
· Seattle Meowtropolitan: Where cat lovers unite and bond over coffee.
· Craftworks Coffee: For the curious coffee connoisseur.
And if you need a place to rest after the effects of caffeine have worn off, consider booking a comfortable room at Pan Pacific Seattle for a luxurious stay.
Welcome to Seattle! Wondering where the best restaurants in Seattle are, or how to get to Seattle’s favourite attractions? Read our blog or speak to our team at Pan Pacific Seattle for travel tips, as well as accommodation advice.