I kind of have a thing for lists. Grocery lists, to-do lists, blog lists, best books on humanitarian work lists, sightseeing in Seattle lists, and et cetera. They keep my thoughts and actions organized, and I get a little too much of a kick out of crossing things off once I've accomplished something. #nerdalert.
My friend Mallory and I started a little list project two years ago to profile different coffee shops in Seattle, where we both spend a fair bit of time. We didn't make a list ahead of time, but agreed to meet up at different spots each time we got together, and then photograph them and write up reviews. I think we visited a grand total of two, but that's two more that I hadn't explored yet.
Now that I'm venturing back into the world of freelancing (sort of - more to come on that later), I find myself spending more time in coffee shops around this lovely city. I have different reasons for visiting each one. So here's my short list of favorites:
Muse :: Best low-key vibe
This is where I spent my Thursday workday. Every time I'm here, there are plenty of open tables, lots of street parking outside, and really chill music on the stereo. The drinks are quality, and there are comfy leather chairs and couches if I need a break from my laptop and want to read or write for a bit. I just really appreciate a good workspace away from home, and this seems to be it on days when I want to venture a little further from home (but stay close to Dave's office if we carpool or have to leave early to go out of town).
Mioposto :: Coziest and friendliest ever!
Dave and I love this place. It's great because it serves so many functions - it is equally wonderful for Saturday morning donut runs (chocolate with raspberry glaze and two cups of drip, please) , happy hour pizzas with friends, and mid-morning work sessions. They have excellent fritattas, reliably good coffee (we usually go with drip, because we're cheap and it's so delicious with the donuts), the BEST best best friendly neighborhood vibe (twinkle lights! corner windows! dogs outside! playground across the street!), and we have to take one of the prettiest drives in the city to get there.
Once we ran from home to Mioposto, which was 5 miles, and is still the farthest I've ever run in my life. My running goal is to do this one consistently without it being a big deal, so that I can work up to 10ks, half marathons, and full marathons. And one day ultras?? Eek!
Anyway, Dave introduced me to this place just a couple of weeks (like maybe one or two?) after we started dating, so it's always had this romantic glow about it for me. When he was living in Nicaragua, I'd go there just to write him long, sappy emails.
I could go on about Mioposto, but I'll just say that atmosphere at any restaurant/cafe is HUGE for me, and this place gets five stars. It has kind of convinced us to stay in South Seattle. Seriously.
Caffe Vita :: Best chain cafe in Seattle
Seward Park (and other spots)
You're never going to lose with coffee here. It's always good. The different locations around the city all have their own unique atmosphere, which is cool. The one we frequent is pretty close to our apartment, so we've ridden our bikes there before, which makes it a winner for me. We've also started a weekly tradition of going to Crossfit at 5:30 on Wednesday mornings and then following it up with some devotions, coffee, and a shared donut before starting work. Can you tell that donuts are kind of a thing for us? This place is also nice for working, because I don't have to spend too much time getting there, and there are lots of big tables and outlets for serious get-er-done time.
Milstead & Co :: Best creative hipster vibe
I feel the creative juices flowing as soon as I walk in here. I get stuff DONE while I'm at Milstead, and I enjoy it. The clean, kind of spartan interiors make my thoughts feel clean and focused too.
Coffee here is definitely a craft, and while I sometimes order drip to save money, it saves no money here because they take their sweet time to make it, usually via Frenchpress or Chemex or something artisan-y like that. Oh you fancy! I appreciate their attention to detail and the excellence with which they do everything. Only downside is that parking is kind of rough, but bus transport is pretty easy here. I really should brave the buses more often. Dave inspires me.
C&P Coffee :: Best spot for conversation with a friend
You guys! It's built inside an old house! And they let you bring your dog in with you! You'd better believe that when we get a puppy (yes,when, not if), I'm totally bringing her with me to work and spread her infectious puppy joy to everyone in there.
This place is really quiet - so quiet that every time I open the door from the noisy world outside, I almost feel compelled to apologize to everyone quietly working and carrying on their conversations in undertones. They have a great mix of tables and couches/chairs, which gives nice options for "work mode" or "relax mode." They also host live music and watercolor classes in here, which is pretty wonderful.
For whatever reason, I developed an affection for their jasmine tea with honey. They serve it in a tall, plain glass, instead of a mug or teacup, and that just feels straightforward and good to me. Also, extra hot water when you finish your first cup is free, so again, this is me falling back on thriftiness at cafes.
Overall, this place feels warm and welcoming every time I walk in, which has made it an enduring favorite in the four years I've lived in this city (and especially the 9 months I lived in West Seattle).
Joe Bar :: Best tiny meet-up spot
When my best friend Abby went to Cornish and lived on/near Capitol Hill, this place was our JAM. It feels so very Euro, with some old-ish buildings (I mean, Seattle is less than 200 years old), and itty bitty sidewalk tables out front. Also, there's an Italian restaurant next door, sooo... maybe that's where I'm getting that Euro thing from? They have some fantastically delicious crepes, so I'm feeling peckish, or French, or fancy, or rich, I snag one of these.
It's not the best for hunkering down and working, but if I need a good place to meet up with a friend, or want to show off the best of Seattle's charm, this is usually my go-to. They have two great loft areas, which get insanely hot any time of year (as they are right above the kitchen), but it's nice if you want to feel cozy and tucked away. Just remove a couple of layers first, and watch your step on the rickety stairs.
For Capitol Hill, the parking isn't bad. Joe Bar is right on the border between Broadway craziness, and the old fancy mansions on the north end of the hill. I usually park by those fo FREE for a couple of hours. You just have to be reeeeal good at the parallel parking thing. Abby is a jedi master and gave me all her skillz before she ran away to Afghanistan/Houston/Hickory and didn't need them anymore.
Hitchcock : Best latte in the Puget Sound (seriously)
Trust me - this latte will make the half-hour ferry ride from downtown worth it. The ferry is great in and of itself, but once you've tasted of the glory of the Hitchcock latte, you'll find yourself making the trip a whole lot more.
The first time I tried one, Dave and I took a day trip to Bainbridge (okay fine, we went to get vodka from the organic distillery on the island, which is also delicious), and I walked past a sidewalk sign that said "iced rosemary caramel latte." I was intrigued. I convinced Dave that we should get one, and it was the best decision we made all day (besides the vodka). The second time I had one of these lattes, it was a hot one, and I kept the empty paper cup in the car for days afterwards, so I could open the lid and smell the rosemary caramel scent still lingering inside. It's THAT GOOD.
Hitchcock's owners make their own syrups in-house, something that I'm not sure any other cafe in Seattle does. I'm not much for flavors in my coffee, but when they have options like cardamom and rosemary caramel, how can I refuse? I don't.
And indeed, I have been known to make the trip to Bainbridge solely for the coffee (as pictured here, last Friday, with Mallory). So high maintenance, I know.
So, my friends - there you have it. Please do not come visit Seattle just to visit the original Starbucks. I promise it's not that exciting, and let's be honest - you can get a mediocre pumpkin spice latte anywhere (WHAT is the deal with that craze, anyway?). BUT! all the wonders of Seattle coffee await you at the places I have detailed for you here! Come visit soon!
Also - runners up: Zoka, Bauhaus, Fremont Coffee Company, Columbia City Bakery, Caffe Ladro, Street Bean
Yet to try: Arabica Lounge, Storyville, Stumptown (I know, I know)