Coffee in Seattle - Coffee Roasters, Coffeehouses and Cafés that Represent Seattle's Coffee Culture

It’s no surprise that people in Seattle are avid consumers of coffee; after all, the city is believed to be a world center for both roasting and supplying coffee. The city’s “coffee culture” is well-known in the entire world. Not only is the city home to a plethora of coffee houses, but also a lot of coffee roasting companies; the popular Starbucks chain actually has its headquarters in Seattle. Moreover, the statistics on how much people spend on the beverage in a month as well as the sheer number of coffeehouses littered around in every neighborhood are a testament to the fact that coffee in Seattle is undoubtedly loved. 

Here are a few things you should know about the coffee culture in Seattle:

What even is the Coffee Culture of Seattle?

A cup of coffee
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It goes without saying that the establishment of the multinational coffeehouse chain Starbucks has made Seattle synonymous with coffee, but there is more to that. There are different arguments given to justify this “coffee culture,” but the most common one seems to be associated with the city’s weather which makes it ideal for caffeine. No matter what it is, it’s a fact that the city has more coffee shops than any other city in the entire country, with there being multiple located within a single neighbourhood.

What you’ll get to see here is a plethora of coffeehouses, cafés, and even restaurants which offer a variety of coffee-based drinks made using different kinds of milk, coffee beans as well as pouring styles. Owing to its popularity in the city, there are ample opportunities for you to learn about the history of coffee as well as its economic, cultural and social, environmental, and health-related impacts.

Popular Coffee Roasters in Seattle

Coffee roasting is a term that refers to the process of converting green coffee beans into roasted coffee products by changing their chemical and physical properties, to bring about the coffee flavor. There are numerous companies in Seattle which take up the task of roasting coffee, and some of these are as follows:

1. Starbucks

The popular Starbucks Coffee
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Perhaps the most well-known coffeehouse in the entire world, Starbucks actually began as a roaster in the year 1971, when it was set up in Pike Place Market. The multinational chain, which has since moved on to providing its customers with a variety of coffee, non-coffee based drinks, and food items, is still known for roasting its coffee and selling the same as packaged products too. 

2. Espresso Vivace

A cup of coffee at Espresso Vivace
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Established in 1988, Espresso Vivace is both a roaster as well as coffeehouse in Seattle, most well-known for its role in popularising latte art in the entire country. The interesting thing is that the company roasts coffee in accordance with the preferences of the owners as patrons.

3. Tully’s Coffee

The sign for Stumptown Coffee Roasters
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A company that came up in response to the rising popularity of Starbucks, Tully’s Coffee was established in 1992 and has since become the city’s second largest coffee retailer. Even though it was set up in Kent and not Seattle, it is popular for roasting its own coffee.

4. Stumptown Coffee Roasters

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Set up in Portland in 1999, Stumptown Coffee Roasters has two branches in Seattle which is known to roast its own coffee.  Credited with being key players in the third wave of the coffee movement, with the employees visiting coffee farms personally and often paying high prices for the beans.

5. Café Vita Coffee Roasting Company

The quaint Café Vita Coffee Roasting Company
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The company was established in 1995 in Seattle, specifically in the Queen Anne neighborhood. Often known as Café Vita, it is another coffee roasting company which participated in the third wave of the coffee movement, known for its fresh coffee roasted on-site. Furthermore, it is credited for its dedication to an ethical model of coffee production.

Popular Coffeehouses and Cafés in Seattle

Given the kind of place that coffee occupies in the life of most Seattle inhabitants, it is no surprise that you are likely to pass multiple coffeehouses or cafés wherever you are in the city. Seattle has both major as well as local establishments offering different kinds of coffee and other coffee products.

Here are 5 of the well-known coffeehouses or cafés of the city:

6. Top Pot Doughnuts

The inside of Top Pot Doughnuts
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Top Pot Doughnuts is known for its coffee as well as its doughnuts. Initially established in Capitol Hill in Seattle, the company has been known to roast its own coffee which is picked out from various locations in the world, and provide its customers with various coffee-based beverages. It has, since then, opened up branches in different parts of the United States.
Established: 2002
Address: Western Avenue, 888 Western Avenue Suite E, Seattle, WA 98104

7. Café Allegro

The outside of Café Allegro
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The oldest espresso bar in the city of Seattle, Café Allegro was set up in the University District, is a quaint location in an alley which is often easy to miss. Dave Olsen established it after he worked at Starbucks and helped develop their signature espresso roast. Today, the café serves coffee and sells packaged roast coffee, made from beans selected from family farms around the world.
Established: 1975
Address: Alleyway, 4214 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105, United States

8. Makeda and Mingus 

The outside of Makeda and Mingus
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What started out as Makeda Coffee has today become Makeda and Mingus which serves a variety of brews, including its popular Seven Roasters java. Moreover, it offers alcoholic beverages like wine and beer, along with food such as naan pizza, mac ‘n cheese, popcorn, biryani, and other delicacies. A treat for dog lovers and owners, the artsy coffeehouse is dog-friendly.
Established: 2008
Address: 153 N 78th St, Seattle, WA, US

9. Watson’s Counter

If you like taking aesthetic pictures, Watson’s Counter is the place to be since it not only offers a variety of delicious coffee-based drinks, with different milk options, but also other kinds of beverages and food items that are presented beautifully. It is known for its lattes which aren’t too sweet, as well as for its matcha, French toast, sandwiches and chicken wings. 
Established: 2019
Address: 6201 15th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107, United States

10. Caffe Ladro

Coffee from Caffe Ladro
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Caffe Ladro has always been credited with the ethical production of coffee, or “green coffee” since its inception. Italian for coffee thief, the coffeehouse offers to its customers several kinds of coffee-based drinks, as well as seasonally changing options. What’s more, you can treat yourself to a variety of baked goods too as you sip on your coffee. Within 25 years since the company started, it has set up 16 branches in and around Seattle.
Established: 1994
Address: 108 Union St, Seattle, WA 98101, United States

Coffee: World in Your Cup Exhibition

Owing to its special status, coffee in Seattle has been accorded its own exhibit at the Burke Museum, known as the Coffee: World in Your Cup, in collaboration with major establishments. Through texts, maps, pictures, artifacts, presentations, demonstrations as other means, the exhibit aims to educate viewers on the various aspects associated with coffee.

It lays emphasis on how coffee as a commodity has been traded all over the world and how that has had environmental, economic and even cultural and social impact. It explores the different ways in which you can, as a consumer, learn to be more conscious with your purchases, be it as a coffeehouse or the grocery store. Furthermore, it seeks to educate viewers on how the caffeine from coffee can affect your body as well as the ideas (cultural or social) which surround this “revolutionary drink.”

When you’re visiting Seattle, make sure you visit one of its many coffeehouses or cafés not just to get a taste of some of the best coffee in the world but also to be able to understand the coffee culture of the city.

This post was published by Arushi Bhowmick

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