If working your way through all the best/most awesome things to do in the city is exhausting you, it’s probably time for a caffeine jolt. Good thing Seattle is just a little famous for this one drink -- you might have heard of it: coffee. But the mega-chains that made a name for java here aren’t the places brewing the best stuff today, the spots listed below are...
All of Our Favorite Craft Coffee Shops in Seattle
More immersive coffee museum and shrine than simple cafe, this shop serves as the showroom for the Italian espresso machine company of the same name. The space displays coffee history while creating the coffee future through its rotating roaster program. Each month, a new roaster from around the world takes up residence, serving as a cafe-within-a-cafe. The experience brings in beans, techniques, and coffee knowledge from around the world. And the soundtrack isn't bad either -- it's located inside the studios of Seattle's world-renowned KEXP radio station.
Once named by Food & Wine as the snobbiest coffee shop in the country, Milstead isn’t bothered: one man’s snobby is another’s caring about where the beans are from and how they are roasted and brewed. Besides, it was also listed as one of the best in the country -- perhaps these things go hand-in-hand?
Ballard (& other locations)
Bring your patience to Slate and you’ll be rewarded with the perfect coffee for you. Knowledgeable baristas will ask you questions about your preferences until they can line you up with just the right cup -- or perhaps a tasting flight, if you’re all about variety.
There's no Wi-Fi and no frills at this sparse but stunning Greenwood shop. The focus instead, as the name implies, is upon the people and preserves within. Specifically, the carefully gathered vendors and equipment -- Conduit Coffee, Sea Wolf bread, a toddy cold-brew system -- pair with the house-made jams and marmalades for peaceful and pleasant cafe. It’s the kind of place that encourages you to start the day with a conversation, not an internet connection.
Send your tourists to the original Starbucks to snap a few photos, but if they want to see the forefront of today’s coffee scene, send them here, just up the street. For those looking only for a quick pick-me-up, there’s the usual coffee bar, but for those wanting to learn more, watch a variety of brewing methods, or have an in-depth discussion about beans, there’s the other side -- the Slow Bar. Don’t miss it.
Cap Hill (& other locations)
A modern update of the classic coffee shop, Broadcast delivers everything you need in a caffeine spot with style, smarts, and its own roasts -- plus other favorites. It's got big, clean, air-conditioned spaces with Wi-Fi (perfect for working alone or meeting up with groups) and staff who know what they’re talking about when it comes to everything from pour-over to espresso.
The first coffee shop in a neighborhood that somehow, even in Seattle in 2012, didn’t have one, this is a labor of community love. The coffee (roasted on-site) is good, but the way it has brought a neighborhood together, infused a little street life to a dark corner, is what really shines here -- especially on a weekend morning when the people pack in so tightly there’s nowhere to sit.
Central District (& other locations)
Opened in 2007, it clocks in as one of the oldest of the hardcore coffee-nerd shops (also one of the least snobby), and that age shows in experience. Down-to-earth baristas understand every nuance of every bean and brewing method, and are happy to share that expertise with customers -- but they also read a customer well and know when to just hand over a cup of their best brew without much more than a smile.
The proof is in the bean at this brick-and-mortar location of the micro-roaster, which had been previously selling product wholesale and online only. As one might expect from the name, the attention to detail in selecting and roasting the coffee turns out some of the city’s best. But don't take our word for it.
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Naomi Tomky is a Seattle-based writer who may or may not be on her third cup of coffee right now. She is definitely on twitter @gastrognome.
1. La Marzocco Cafe472 1st Ave N, Seattle
2. Milstead & Co.770 N 34th St, Seattle
3. Slate Coffee Roasters1408-1412 14th Ave, Seattle
4. Preserve and Gather358 NW 85th St, Seattle
5. Seattle Coffee Works107 Pike St, Seattle
6. Broadcast Coffee1623 Bellevue Ave Ste A, Seattle
7. Tin Umbrella Coffee5600 Rainier Ave S Ste A, Seattle
8. Tougo Coffee Co.1410 18th Ave, Seattle
9. QED Coffee1418 31st Ave S, Seattle
This coffee museum, shop, and interactive tasting center run by the fabled Italian coffee brand of the same name, this City Center cafe serves as La Marzocco's United States HQ and showroom. Besides serving top notch roasts, the space also features monthly installations and speaking series about topics in coffee history, home brewing, and technology. The cafe also hosts guest roasters from around the world.
Featuring the likes of craft coffee superstars Intelligentsia, Stumptown and Coava, and hitting on all the tropes that some may read as hipster to the point of pretension --Milstead was once named the snobbiest coffee shop in the country, after all, so maybe brace yourself for that--Milstead still serves up some pretty damn good coffee. The cafe is spacious with a modern, industrial vibe and while the baristas may be overly serious for your liking, they know what they're doing and it shows.
With outposts across the Emerald City, Slate Coffee's a bistro-esque, boutique coffee shop serving strong and flavorful espresso for serious coffee drinkers. The Ballard operation might be tiny but it's worth trying to snag a spot by the windows and relax on a lazy weekend day. Sample the signature drink, "deconstructed" espresso with milk, or try a tasting flight with three different varieties of coffee served in wine glasses, because Slate's fancy like that.
This bright and airy Greenwood cafe is a down to earth spot to grab a colorful bite to eat and treat yourself to an expertly poured latte. The small-plates menu runs the gamut from house made pastries and yogurt in the morning, to savory vegetable toasts and meat and cheese boards later in the afternoon. There's no Wi-Fi here, giving you the perfect excuse to unplug and get comfortable for a while-- this is the kind of place to come to with a good book and laze the afternoon away.
Forget Starbucks. This unpretentious coffeehouse Downtown is a longstanding Seattle mainstay, serving up a variety of blended brews and other buzzy drinks. Grab a great espresso at the "Express Bar", or indulge your inner coffee geek and visit the science lab-esque "Slow Bar" to observe the skilled baristas as they model various brewing methods.
With three boutique locations across the Emerald City, this independent roastery's Capitol Hill outpost is a no-frills, great grab-and-go or sit-and-chill kind of spot with efficient and friendly service. Offering in-house blended brews in addition to craft coffee favorite Stumptown Coffee, the knowledgable staff at Broadcast will answer any questions you may have about pour-overs versus espresso, and they won't kick you out for hogging the Wi-Fi or the AC.
Right on the corner of Rainier Avenue and South Findlay sits the trusty and reliable Tin Umbrella cafe. This quintessential neighborhood coffee shop was in fact the very first one to sprout up in Hillman, if you can believe it (this being Seattle and "coffee-obsessed," and all). Offering "industrial-strength" Wi-Fi and "new-wave" coffee roasted on-site, it's the perfect place to go and work on that book you're not writing. Locals can enjoy Tin Umbrella's bike delivery service option and get beans brought straight to their doorstep.
This flagship location of Tougo opened in 2007 and was one of the first coffee-nerd coffee-shops in Seattle's now rampant movement. They haven't let it go to their heads though; the baristas here are super chill and are happy to chat with customers about their products. Both drip coffee and espresso shots are pretty potent, so come here when you need to get your afternoon buzz on.
QED had been selling their micro-roast wholesale for about a year when they finally decided to open this brick and mortar spot in Mt. Baker and dole out lattes and espresso to thirsty coffee denizens in real time. To say we're grateful would be an understatement. Warm and friendly, the tree-lined cafe is the perfect spot to kick back with a brew in hand.