Coffee houses have long held mystique for me. From Cleveland, Ohio, to Vienna, Austria, I’ve sniffed out coffeehouses for both their quality brew and ambiance. My favorites excel at preparing and serving perfect cappuccino family drinks and provide an overstuffed chair I can slip into with a novel, knowing I won’t be disturbed. When my family decided to spend six days in Seattle, I announced I knew how some of that time was going to be spent.
“Starbucks,” my kids groaned. Oh, yes, Starbucks. But not just Starbucks. In 2010, Daily Beast dubbed Seattle the “most caffeinated city” in the United States, with 35 coffee shops per 100,000 residents and a $36 per capita monthly coffee tab. While there’s no doubt we will be stopping at the original Starbuck’s on Pike St. or the headquarters on Utah Ave., that’s only the beginning of our exploration of Seattle’s coffee scene.
Roasted in Seattle
With 16 different coffee purveyors roasting beans in Seattle, according to Seattle Magazine, it occurred to me it’s no wonder someone could come up with a movie title like “Sleepless in Seattle.” But like many random thoughts, this one proved insupportable. Seattle didn’t make the list of the 30 most sleepless cities in the United States. Excellent. I can visit those coffee houses and still get a good night’s sleep.
Six Days in Seattle
Fitting my fascination with coffee into a six day vacation, without sacrificing the vacation, requires acute selectivity. That’s why I’ve been doing advance work to scope out the best prospects.
There are two coffee maker’s I can cross off the prospectives list. Seattle’s Best is sold in local groceries, and it doesn’t meet my standards. Stumptown looks quite promising, but it’s from Portland, Ore., so we’ll check that one out in Portland en route to Seattle. That leaves 13 coffee companies other than Starbucks to consider.
Undoubtedly, I will make final selections on the spot when I get a look at Seattle’s coffee shops in person. These are some of my preliminary thoughts:
* It just happens I can be free Wednesday at 11. That’s when Victrola hosts public cuppings to breed appreciation for the aroma and taste of different coffees.
* A noisy environment often ruins an otherwise pleasant coffee shop visit. Vivace’s Alley 24 and Brix locations offer quiet space in which to enjoy their drinks. I also appreciate the community spirit of the owners, planting trees in a park to offset the carbon dioxide produced by their coffee roasting, according to Seattle Magazine.
* Café Umbria is especially tempting for fans of Italian coffee drinks, like me. The atmosphere is reminiscent of Italy. A third-generation operation, Café Umbria brings tradition and experience to the table. Their simple explanation for mixing varietals to produce a quality brew stands in contrast to other coffee makers’ snobbish claims of expertise that sometimes inspire more doubt than confidence.