In the capital of caffeine, you can’t walk more than one block without hitting at least some sort of coffee slinger. Despite amazing cafe after cafe, there are a few that are a cup above the rest.
Starbucks, the $82 billion global coffee behemoth, started as one little location in Seattle in 1971, and it’s been associated with the Emerald City ever since. But while the mega-chain of the green mermaid may have put Seattle on the map for java, it’s not the end-all, be-all when it comes to the coffee scene there. In fact, according a recent NPD Group study, Seattle is home to 1,640 coffee shops – that’s about 35 stores per 100,000 residents – ranging from mom-and-pop cafes to pour-over sidewalk stands to boutique micro-roasters. Here, we take stock of some of the best alternative spots in Seattle where you can get your caffeine fix.
Seattle Coffee Works [107 Pike Street]
Part of a chain of four cafes that anchor different neighborhoods, including Capitol Hill and Ballard, this particular downtown spot by Pike Place Market offers two different ways to get your coffee – depending on whether you’re in a rush or want to savor the whole experience. The first is the coffee bar, available for those who want to be in and out, and the other is the Slow Bar, where you can watch the coffee being brewed while learning about different brewing methods and other coffee-making nuances. Beats a Styrofoam cup and a mispronounced name.
Elm Coffee Roasters [240 2nd Avenue South, #103]
Located near Pioneer Square, this casual coffeehouse set in a bright, open space succeeds by nailing the coffee shop basics: an attractive atmosphere of natural wood, white walls, and strung lights; excellent coffee (you can even watch them roasting, thanks to large display windows); and friendly, quick service. There are also tasty pastries available, provided by The London Plane.
Broadcast Coffee [1918 E. Yesler Way]
Wi-Fi has become a welcome addition to many coffee shops around the world (or, at least the ones that are OK with customers hanging out), and it’s central to the promise of Broadcast Coffee – along with plenty of space and air conditioning. Great pour-overs and phenomenal espressos, plus a relaxed vibe, seem to keep their customers (mostly a mix of locals and students) coming back. Broadcast Coffee also sells their blends by the bag, which carry thematic names like “Breaker One 9,” “Crossfade,” and “Shortwave.”
Indi Chocolate [1901 Western Avenue, Suite D]
Coffee and chocolate – is there a better match made in heaven? That’s what Indi Chocolate, with a new coffee bar location in Pike Place Market, was built upon. While chocolate is their first passion – they make single-origin dark chocolate from beans sourced from Peru, Nicaragua, and Ecuador – they are all about pairing it with coffee from Philadelphia’s La Colombe, including in a 50/50 cold brew cacao coffee, mochas, and other specialty drinks.
Caffé D’arte [719 S. Myrtle Street]
Even in a city known for its coffee-making prowess, Caffé D’arte has managed to separate itself from the pack. Founded by Maura Cipolla (who, before moving to Seattle, honed his skills as an apprentice in Naples, Italy, under a fourth-generation master roaster), the no-frills cafe is part of a rare breed of roasters who use “Post-Blending,” where each coffee is profiled and roasted separately to bring out its own flavor, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. The results speak for themselves, as casual drinkers and coffee lovers alike routinely cite the Pioneer Square spot as being in a league of its own.