“People in Seattle consume more coffee than in any other American city; one study stated that there are 35 coffee-shops per 100,000 residents, and that Seattle people spend an average of $36 a month on coffee.”-The Daily Beast. 27 July 2010
What do you know about Seattle? It rains a lot? It has some really good coffee? As a Midwesterner and coffee enthusiast I certainly did not know much about the city but I still felt the fervor to visit.
When I had the opportunity for a short visit last summer, I didn’t hesitate. Since it was my first trip to the “Emerald City” with its lush evergreen forests, my plan included visiting some of the must-see sights, and stopping for a cup of coffee along the way.
First up, I planned to visit the Seattle landmarks: the 605-foot Space Needle and the nearby Chihuly Garden and Glass. Located right next to the Space Needle, the Garden “wows” the visitors with some of the most astonishing artworks of renowned Washington State glass artist Dale Chihuly.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
However, what caught my attention most was the Collections Café right next door. Just being at the café is a unique experience itself. The name refers to Chihuly’s lifelong passion for collecting everything from vintage objects to material culture of all kinds. You’ll see bottle openers, radios, and vintage accordions displayed on the walls, suspended from the ceiling, and even encased in the tabletops.
Going through the menu, you will learn that the café serves Pacific Northwest cuisine, but as you scroll down the menu, you may notice the Fonté coffee selections in the Coffee & Tea section.
The coffee is from Fonté Micro Coffee Roaster, an independent coffee roaster founded in 1992 by Paul Odom. (fontecoffee)
Is the coffee good? I personally really liked it. I tried the Rain City Blend brewed in the French Press. I think it was a medium to dark roast coffee. In this case, I like my coffee with just a little bit of cream, no sugar.
That’s just a tryout of my coffee adventure of course, as you know Seattle is the city for Coffee…
The line for the original Starbucks at the Pike Place Market draws all the way out the door to the streets by midmorning.
Want an inside scoop?
The coffee giant actually opened its first store in 1971 a block north on Virginia but moved to this location in 1975, when the first building was demolished (VisitSeattle).
“Tall”, “Grande”, “Venti” – the international conglomerate started a coffee revolution that propels our modern coffee drink culture, even pioneering terms Starbucks costumers will understand worldwide.
Back to the Pike Market, between the Stewart and Virginia Streets in the Soames-Dunn Building, the original Starbucks logos are still on display. It is the place that started it all, and still offers the exclusive and original Pike Place Market Starbucks swag, available only at this location.
The Pike Place Market also offers countless treasures for foodies who appreciate fresh local produce and seafood.
Although Starbucks is one of the most well know coffee shops originating from Seattle, it surely not the only one, and maybe not even the best.
Here is a surprising long list of Coffeehouse, Cafes, and Coffee Roasters reviewed by Seattle Coffee Scene.
I also explored a number of other coffee shops during my visit. Here are a couple that caught my attention.
This adorable café sits in Capitol Hill, Seattle, where you can get some very precisely brewed coffee, and books and gifts that “beckon to the geek.”
The owner says, “The café is where the technical mind finds what it craves. So you can find the knowledge you seek, feed your curiosity among friends, and always feel in your element.”
I am not sure about others, but the unique decoration in the café definitely inspired me to try this Test Tube Vast at home.
The coffee? Well…wonderful and just right.
This is one of Giada Laurenttis’ “fave” places in Seattle. Giada reflects: “lots of exotic coffees. Live music on Friday nights.”
Victrola has a couple cafés across various areas in Seattle. However, the most popular café sits on 15th Avenue in Capitol Hill.
Victrola, named for the popular home phonograph of the 1920’s, embraced the liveliness, exuberance and fun of the Jazz era. The café uses these characteristics to create an exceptional space to learn more about coffee tasting and roasting, or simply enjoy a great book while looking out at the rain.
Because Seattle has such vibrant culture for food and coffee, it’s quite a challenge to find a bad cup of coffee!
If you have the time, it’s definitely worth heading to the Washington State ferry docks for the 35-minute trip to Bainbridge Island, where you can stroll the boutiques and bakeries along Winslow Way.
Also, a beautiful hidden treasure you won’t want to miss on the island: the Bloedel Reserve, just another 20 minutes drive on the northern end of the island. The place is a little hard to find at first, but once you are there, you’ll likely spend an hour or two to exploring the area.
This secret 150-acre land features a unique blend of natural woodland and beautifully landscaped gardens, including a Japanese Garden, a Moss Garden, and Reflection Pool, and the Bloedel’s former estate home (bloedelreserve).
With various flowers blooming along the side, ducks chilling in the pond, and the tranquil Japanese music playing on the background, it was definitely a relaxing and contemplative experience for me (I guess for Martha Stewart as well).
When it rains, you find a nice café to drink a good cup of coffee, and read your favorite book. When it’s sunny, you explore the city for the food, the culture, or take a short trip to spend a couple hours with nature. Rain or shine, Seattle is unpredictable. There will always be something that surprises you. I am already excited for my next surprise…