Coffee Break: Seattle's Unique Coffee Spots

Find the best coffee shops, breweries making coffee beer and coffee liquer

There are a lot of choices when looking for that perfect cup of joe in the Emerald City: It sometimes seems there really is a coffee shop on every corner. If you’d like to try a few different options before choosing a favorite Seattle coffee shop, there are two coffee tours in town. 

Seattle By Foot’s Seattle Coffee Crawl is a 2.5-hour, 1.78-mile walk to some of the top coffee stops in the city. In addition to trying more than six samples, learn about Seattle’s coffee history, from roasters to that certain behemoth you might know. Another option is a coffee tour with Road Dog Tours. Visit three places for coffee over two hours and spend time learning about what goes into the perfect cup.

Street Bean Espresso

Ready to strike out on your own? The following coffee shops offer unique ambiance in addition to their coffee.

Coffee for Good

In Belltown, buy your caffeine fix from Street Bean Espresso, a nonprofit coffee shop that opened in 2009 to help street-involved young people turn their lives around. While here, grab a bag of beans—the shop has its own roasts, in addition to featuring other regional roasters. The bright space also features a rotating list of artists’ work on the walls, so do a bit of browsing while waiting for your latte.

Add a Shot of Music

If you want a cup of coffee and also want to browse new and used vinyl, head to Porchlight Coffee & Records in Capitol Hill. They serve local favorite Herkimer Coffee and a selection of pastries including Mighty-O Donuts. If that isn’t enough, Porchlight also has its own record label—look for releases from their label while browsing.

Join Geek Headquarters

Consider yourself a geek? Head to Wayward Coffeehouse in Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood and find fellow gamers, Browncoats and a mix of students and writers. The coffee shop is open late and serves vegetarian and vegan sandwiches and soup. There are also special events, including music and readings, so check the online calendar for upcoming events.

Take a Book Break

Visit Elliott Bay Book Co. in Capitol Hill where you’ll find Little Oddfellows inside. This new spot from the owner of next-door Oddfellows Café, Linda’s Tavern, Tallulah’s and King’s Hardware features paninis and small plates, juices and wine and beer along with coffee from Caffe Vita. Grab a coffee and slice of the layer cake of the day before going back to book browsing.

A Siren’s Call

If your love for Starbucks outshines every other cup of coffee, head to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, a gorgeous space in Capitol Hill. Watch the coffee process, from green beans transferred into roasters through clear tubes in the ceiling to a barista creating your perfect cup with any one of a number of brewing methods. Beans are always in rotation, so check the board to see what’s currently roasting. Coffee flights are also available, if you want to try multiple beans. Find a favorite? Take a bag home with you, along with merchandise that is exclusive to the Roastery.

Two Beers Brewing

Caffeinated Brews

Not to be left out, Seattle’s breweries are also using the city’s favorite beverage in their creations.

At Two Beers Brewing Co., The wintertime Jive Espresso Stout uses locally roasted direct-trade espresso to help create this oatmeal milk stout. Visit the tasting room, called The Woods, to sample that and other beers, plus ciders from Seattle Cider Co., which shares the space.

Pyramid Brewing, across the street from Safeco Field, has a wintertime Espresso Stout, a dark ale that includes a “jolt of espresso” amid the caramel and dark roasted malt. Their alehouse is also a restaurant, if you’re looking for a meal to complement the beer.

Stop in to Lowercase Brewing for the Brown Ale, a dark beer made from toasted malts, Nugget hops and Pier Coffee (a local company from Kent, Wash.) cold-brew concentrate. Dirty Bucket Brewery has Ruski Porridge among their beer selection. This oatmeal stout’s recipe includes a special coffee blend from Highland Coffee Company, which is based in Shoreline, Wash. Stop in to the Woodinville nanobrewery—it’s a kid- and pet-friendly spot.

If you really can’t get enough coffee and beer, on Nov. 14, the Burgundian is holding its annual Coffee Beer Festival. The bar taps 18 coffee beers that have been curated throughout the year, including a special cask of Triumvirate IPA from Reuben’s Brews that is only available at the event.

A Little Liqueur

Coffee liqueur isn’t anything new, and a couple spots in the area are creating their own. Check out Seattle Distilling on Vashon Island, where they make their coffee liqueur from their handcrafted vodka and Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie’s Orca blend.

Skip Rock Distillers in Snohomish, Wash., has a new coffee liqueur made with organic coffee from Chiapas, Mexico and an unaged, high-proof version of the distillery’s Belle Rose Rum.

Stacy Booth
About the author