Seattle is a city that runs on coffee. It’s impossible to take even a short walk around any neighborhood in the metro area and not stumble over a handful of cafes and coffee stands. Not all coffee or coffee shops are created equal; There are a variety of criteria upon which any discerning local coffee-addict will choose the brand and location to get their “fix.” One must consider the quality of a brand’s coffee and it’s taste, the design and layout of the cafe, and the overall ambiance and vibe of the shop, and, sometimes there’s also just something special, maybe a bit intangible that sets a place apart, right? Armed with these prerequisites and a blatant disregard for hypertension, we set out to drink our way through the top ten coffee shops in the Seattle Metro Area!
** And, since I spend a lot of my time exploring places due to writing this blog and looking for an ideal place to plug-in and get to work, I’ll give you the skinny on whether or not these make for ideal workspaces.
SO, take a trip around Seattle with me and lets get way too caffeinated – maybe you’ll even find new favorite coffee spot!
1. Storyville Coffee (at the Pike Place Market), 94 Pike Street, top floor – You may notice the specificity of the directions here and its with good reason. The video above will show you how to find it quick and easy! In fact, this one is a literal hidden gem, sitting two floors above and across from the entrance to the famous Seattle landmark, Pike Place Market, its not easy to find, but well worth it if you can. From the large, arched windows (original to the vintage structure) overlooking the Market to the modern, sleek interior, the design and layout is superb. The ambiance contains a mixture of tech-business hipsters, quietly whittling away at some logistics and charts, the usual coffee-lovers, and a mixture of the wide variety of tourists wandering the market – many of whom seemed to have stumbled here by happy accident. Regardless of the character, the scene is filled with smiles and bright eyes, thanks in large part to some of the finest coffee that Seattle has to offer. The Storyville brand is quality coffee, roasted and shipped same day for maximum freshness and its reflected in it, from bean to beverage. This one has to be #1, for me; its an attraction, its a stellar cup of Joe, and it is guaranteed to give you a warm and accurate memory of the city. **as a workspace – skip it! Lots of tourists and few work areas/outlets. Hit this one on your off day, buddy!
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2. Starbucks Roastery, 1124 Pike St – the company is one that you’re sure to recognize. Starbucks has a level of consciousness globally now, but it did all begin here in Seattle. The “original” Starbucks is allegedly located in Pike Place Market, but read up to find that its actually more of a tourists attraction. This isn’t what we need to see at the Market, so we will skip this for now and head to the true north star in this city for Starbucks = The Roastery. Everything that occurs after entering the massive wooden doors at its entrance is spell-binding. Your attention is drawn in every direction and by each sense, do you dart your eyes towards the network of roasting machines and conveyor belts proffering the precious beans around the room or do you follow your nose to the shiny chrome espresso machine wafting puffs of a sumptuous Brazilian blend with each grinding whir. Here you will find some of the best specialty coffees and seasonal offerings of coffee, plus the best ambiance you’ll find in or outside of a coffee shop. This location also gives you a chance to see a portion of the coffee making process, acting a bit as a coffee museum. Not just a shop, but an attraction worth seeing if you’re in town. **as a workspace: I wouldn’t recommend it, there aren’t as many outlets available and the layout gives more in classic furniture than desks. It’s doable but not optimal and it can get a little noisy in the shop. Wifi is, however notably strong and doesn’t get the heaviest traffic, on the bright side.
3. Roy Street Coffee and Team, 700 Broadway Ave E – Located at the north end of Broadway, this cafe offers a beautiful setting with rich furnishings and rustic wood as a perfect setting for bit of coffee or tea. They also have a small but delicious menu of food items, including what Spencer considers to be the best grilled cheese sandwich in Seattle. There is a lot of space here and its laid-out to make you feel comfortable at home. **as a workspace: Definitely workable, especially if you can get here early, before all the outlets and prime spots are taken. Be advised this cafe runs at near maximum capacity throughout the day, so it may be a bit busy, though it always seems to stay fairly quiet.
The “Home of the Velvet Foam”
4. Uptown Espresso, 2504 4th Ave – Known as the “home of the velvet foam” this coffee shop has multiple locations,but my personal favorite is their Belltown location at the address listed. Amidst the beautiful wood decor and large picture windows are a plethora of seating options. Their coffee has amazing flavor and they truly do make some of the firmest and most velvety foam you’ll find anywhere. The Belltown location also features outdoor seating, a nice option during the fleeting summer months. Pictured left is one of my other favorite locations, the South Lake Union spot. **as a workspace: This is one of the best digi-worker spots. Several outlets, many desk-like spaces and a constant library-level of quiet that allows you to focus and work.
5. Cafe Vita, 1005 E Pike St – This one is one of the best brands of coffee in the city. Cafe Vita coffee is available in several other coffee houses, where each features it under its name, as their default house blend. It’s high-praise in a coffee-obsessed city. And after a sip, it’s no surprise why. The rich, bold and flavorful taste and makes visiting this location or any Cafe Vita sites well worth it. This particular location has an air of “cool” and seems to be a mecca for the trendier denizens of Capitol Hill to come hang out and get caffeinated. **as a workspace: This can be a preferable location for work-from-home away from home, especially due to its more ambient lighting and cool soundtrack. Its relaxing and their are plenty of optimal surfaces off which to work and outlets abound.
6. Vivace Espresso, Outdoor Sidewalk Bar, 321 E Broadway Ave – There are a few locations for this brand, but the outdoor walk-up coffee stand beats the rest. With a few tables of classic metal chairs complete with umbrellas, this is the summer to autumn best-seat-in-the-house for people watching. The Vivace brand coffee is also one of the best in the city, with a powerful, fresh flavor that lends itself amazing to the espresso-style. Indulge in one of the best americano’s your palette has ever had the pleasure of tasting while your eyes feast upon the changing color and faces along an autumn day in Capitol Hill. **as a workspace: This one is another one to skip, no outlets and very little seating. Try hoping just a couple of blocks down the street to their indoor location for a better workspace.
7. Capitol Coffee Works, 907 E Pike St – There are multiple locations for this coffee brand as well, however the Capitol Hill location again takes the top spot, namely due to its quiet, clean, modern space and expedient service. This is a great place for outdoor seating or for a high-up balcony seat that allows you to for a voyeuristic element, allowing you to watch the baristas work their magic from a bird’s-eye view.**as a workspace: One of my personal favorites due to the secluded balcony seating, and overall arrangement of possible workspaces and many outlets. The staff here is also extremely accustomed to and accommodating of the laptop warriors getting it done at their cafe and will be sure to check on you for refills.
8. Victrola, 310 E Pike St – Here you’ll find another amazing cup of coffee, a friendly and welcoming staff and a lovely space within which you can slip away into fascinating conversations with your best bud. They also offer kombucha and a notable tea-list that make this a great spot even for those not so coffee-inclined. It”s location is central and the ambiance is light, airy and relaxing. They even feature an on-sight roasting room, which can be easily viewed from the main cafe. **as a workspace: This one is actually a little tricky. In terms of spaces: great. In terms of outlets: so,so. The most notable thing that can be slightly intrusive is the strange fluctuating noise levels. The coffee must be strong cus some people (self-included) can get loud and chatty. It’s nothing a good set of headphones won’t solve.
9. Cherry Street (in Pioneer Square), 700 1st Ave – Though Cherry Street Coffee is nearly as heavily franchised and proliferated in Seattle as Starbucks, it has good reasons for being so popular. A visit to the original location in Pioneer Square will give you some good insight into the brand’s success. The exposed brick juxtaposed to the neon sign featuring their iconic logo combined with the historic surrounding neighborhood give this cafe a modern-meets-vintage feel of the city that feels more authentic than most. Their coffee is full-bodied and delicious (better than the standard roast from Starbucks) and the baristas at this location are friendly and operate at an expert echelon when it comes to your beverage. **as a workspace: I recommend this one highly for digi-nomads. They’ve got great wifi speeds and lots of locations for workspace. It tends to stay quiet and through the midday there are usually several spots vacant.
10. Kaladi Brothers Coffee, 517 E Pike St – This is one spacious coffee shop! From the giant picture windows overlooking Capitol Hill, to the open layout and the innumerable places to sit, this cafe was designed to hold a party, which is often how it feels here. This is one of the most diverse and LGBT-friendly spaces, in fact, they’ve also got an extensive library and non-profit in Gay City, next door, that offers community outreach programs. The coffee is pretty tasty too! This is one that feels good from tummy to heart and its a great place to meet some unique and awesome individuals. **as a workspace – lots of outlets and space, just be advised that its a lively crowd here and sometimes volume levels and sheer occupancy can be distracting. As aforementioned, a good set of headphones is nearly as prerequisite here in Seattle as a good espresso.
These are our personal recommendations for coffee shops in the Seattle Metro area and we hope you’ve perhaps gotten some ideas or gotten to re-live some memories from one that’s already on your list. Maybe you even disagree, in which case I gladly welcome you to share your inside info with us in the comments section. We love discovering new, exciting places to go and grab a warm cup and see some new faces.
We hope to catch you guys at the coffee shop, until then, remember to sip slowly and savor each drop!