Seattle’s Best Coffee Shops
An essential guide to finding your perfect cup of joe in the city known for its caffeinated craft brews.
In a city where locals have long since abandoned gloves in favor of a warm cup of coffee, the corner café is commonly accepted as a second home. From expertly pulled espresso shots to precious pour-overs, baristas have embraced Seattle’s caffeine love affair. Artisan coffee is designed to not only give its patrons a pick-me-up, but also nourish the soul with refined flavors and welcoming environments.
There’s often a line. Be patient. It’s worth the wait for what Food & Wine declares, “Seattle’s best coffee shop.” Espresso Vivace, which originally opened as a sidewalk bar on Broadway in the 1980s, is widely credited with the now-ubiquitous craft of coffee art. But it’s their classic cappuccino that steals the show. A rich and bold caffeine hit, it delivers all the espresso-milk flavor you could want without the excess acidic finish so commonly found in this classic drink. Though the famed shop has now expanded to three locations, their sidewalk bar remains a favorite. It offers a few scattered tables and chairs on the street out front if you want to sit while you sip.
321 Broadway Ave. E
While Seattle may be the birthplace of the globally beloved mermaid-bearing cup, it’s also home to the United States ‘boutique’ favorite — Caffe Vita. This popular chain now pours in all 50 states and has 200 airport locations, but its neighborhood cafes have maintained the general bar-like feel of its original Queen Anne home. The consistently well-brewed coffee is roasted in-house and the beans are sourced from independent farmers.
Queen Anne location: 813 5th Ave. N
Tougo Coffee Co.
Known for being approachable in its nerdy take on coffee, Tougo runs a small counter at the Convention Center and a café at First Hill. But it’s their original spot in the Central District where you’ll get a real feel for their impressive variety of brewing methods so lovingly cultivated and on display. Best enjoyed with a baked good—of which the café offers many—you’ll have the chance to try everything from the classic French press and espresso shots to pour overs and aero pressed cups of joe.
1410 18th Ave.
Relatively small by Seattle’s growing chain standard, Victrola’s four locations are all equally lovely — offering communal tables and a friendly environment for everything from gathering with friends to setting up a mobile office. The Pike St. location even has a cupping room, where coffee enthusiasts can learn about coffee tasting and dive deep into the roaster’s variety of specially sourced beans.
310 E Pike St.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room
Sure, you can get a cup of Starbucks blend in every corner of the globe. But there are only a few places where you can visit the Willy Wonka factory of the coffee world. An upscale shrine to bean roasting and coffee brewing, this Capitol Hill hot spot is regularly packed with a variety of locals and tourists alike. Glass walls are all that separate you from the roasting process, a beauty to behold in its own right. Though the menu can feel a tad overwhelming, the immaculately clad employees are eager and enthusiastic about guiding you to your perfect drink — especially if you manage to snag a seat at the main bar.
1124 Pike St.
Co-founded by Emanuele Bizzarri—a third-generation roaster from Perugia, Italy — Caffè Umbria is known for its commitment to the Italian tradition of blending beans. Some pours include more than 15 varietals all combined in scientific mixtures. The flagship store in Pioneer Square remains a favorite, but the company has also expanded to include locations in Seattle, Portland, and Chicago.
320 Occidental Ave. S
Expanding its 206 mini-chain empire, Caffe Ladro’s wooden Adirondack chairs and smooth cups of coffee are now available in 16 different locations. It’s even opened stores on the Eastside. Medici lovers are rejoicing everywhere that their beloved orange-scented, chocolate-spiked cup of coffee is now so readily available. The flagship location on Upper Queen Anne remains a favorite, even if parking can sometimes be a pain. But hunting for a parking spot is worth the time if you plan to visit nearby Kerry Park — home to one of Seattle’s most iconic views.
2205 Queen Anne Ave N
The Cheers of Seattle coffee, patrons visit Herkimer’s three neighborhood cafes with such frequency the staff knows their names — and often their orders. The barebones menu rarely features anything you’d deem inventive. But it doesn’t matter, as the in-house roasted beans are brewed with such smooth perfection you won’t be asking for any extras. The Greenwood shop is particularly lovely, as four-legged fur babies are among its most beloved patrons.
7320 Greenwood Ave. N
Fonté’s original café—located across the street from the Seattle Art Museum and tucked beneath the Four Seasons—feels more like an upscale wine bar than a boutique coffee house. And you wouldn’t be wrong in assuming so. In addition to showcasing their high-end selection of beans they’ve been roasting in Georgetown since 1992, the café offers wine, cocktails, brunch, and lunch. For a less formal affair, you can visit their newest outpost in Bellevue Square. The coffee’s equally as delightful, though the mall’s noise level can sometimes take away from the leisurely moment.1321 1st Ave., Seattle
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