19 September 2014

coffee hop

In search of that difficult balance of exemplar coffee and good atmosphere, we bussed into Seattle to arrive at the first of three new coffee shops...
227 yale ave n

The first impression to hit was how open the space is. Warm color tones in stone and metal surfaces cool in full morning light from the nearly two full walls of windows. While set up for individuals with a bar stretching across each wall under the windows, all with outlets for laptops and devices, there are still several tables and couch spaces to invite larger groups or lounging readers to stay awhile. As we settled in and gathered our drinks, the loud music began to feel louder and the welcome-to-the-kitchen feel provided by open appliance shelving behind the serving counter began to feel claustrophobic. The winners of past latte art competitions, framed and placed on the walls, gave a sense of history and community and tied in with the pour art mosaics on the floor. With a focus on sweet, caramelized espresso, they were eager to try the coffee.
Espresso // fluffy, bitter, back-of-the-tongue mouthfeel
Americano // grainy, bitter, brown
Latte // beautiful, faint, lukewarm
None of us were particularly impressed, though we haven't given up on these particular roasters. While Vivace had a stellar reputation for high quality coffee four years ago, this location seems to have not carried on that tradition. We'd like to go to their original storefront on a future expedition.
Victrola Coffee Roasters
411 15th ave e

This café's passion for high-quality coffee is clear the moment you walk in as you're greeted by a hearty collection of home coffee brewing options, hand grinders, and hand-thrown mugs. A long, cozy, delicious-smelling space filled with locals, Victrola fits right in among the many small businesses along 15th avenue on Capitol Hill. While light pours in through the windows around the door, it does not leach the warmth out of the cozy, natural wood elements. Crisp lines keep the space clean while light music encourages conversation. I was greatly encouraged by a loose leaf tea menu, though I haven't tried any of them yet.
Espresso // initially smooth, rounded, bitter
Americano // thin, green, disappearing
All in all we enjoyed this space a great deal. Relaxed and approachable, it still holds itself up to a high standard. While they were not impressed by the coffee itself, they would like to try different brewing methods for these beans. A French press may allow more flavor into the cup while providing a more substantial body, combating the thinness they experienced with the espresso.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
1115 12th ave


This tiny space -- tucked between two large, seemingly industrial buildings on 12th avenue -- is filled to the brim with loud music and heavy coffee. While I do not tend to prefer loud music, it encouraged conversation even in such an intimate space. Recycled wood floors, old brick walls, rebar, and concrete give it a rough-and-tumble atmosphere while the clean lines of a polished bar and slick shelving keep it from feeling cluttered. The windows, opened to allow an afternoon breeze to play through the space, provide the feeling of sitting outside while still enjoying the coziness of an enclosed space.

Espresso // green, short-lived, pleasant

Americano // bright, lemon, encompassing

Iced Coffee // sweet, tart, clean

Our unquestioned favorite of the three spaces for the taste and feel of the coffee, they would also like to try these beans with another method of brewing. The one they would choose to try: pour over.

The next adventure? Finding a coffee shop with both good coffee and good tea.

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