Seattle - after all, is the city known as the birthplace of Starbucks. The city’s diverse coffee scene houses much more than the popular chain cafe, although we wouldn’t suggest passing by Seattle without a stop at the flagship Starbucks Reserve on Capitol Hill.
As a former barista, my frequent Seattle trips had always been a well-caffeinated one due to the ample selection of great cafes to choose from. Over the last few years, we have seen a number of independent cafes and micro roasters pop up around the city, and we shortlisted a few of our current favourites to share with you.
The spacious Milstead Coffee opened their new location less than a year ago in the Fremont neighbourhood. The welcoming space is bright and airy, with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the bay, giving patrons a nice view of the bridge and downtown Seattle from the Fremont waterfront.
The cafe carries an array of well-known roasters from surrounding cities, with over ten different Roasters to choose from for retail whole beans. It was like entering a candy shop for coffee enthusiasts, having a curated selection of hand-picked single origin coffees all in one place. We were surprised to find that they rotate their espresso everyday, changing from roaster to roaster so their customers can enjoy different espresso profiles daily.
The cafe offers a number of different brewing methods, so you can enjoy their single origin selections in a variety of ways, including the aeropress method that has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years. We fell back to a good old cappuccino, delighted by the beautifully textured milk and balanced espresso from the local Kuma Coffee Roasters.
Slate Coffee will always hold a special place in my heart. It has become a staple Seattle visit for me, and if I can only pick one cafe to visit in Seattle, this would be it. The coffee roaster now serves their spectacular coffee at three different locations throughout Seattle, making it convenient for all to enjoy.
We made our way to their first permanent location in East Ballard, a small, intimate neighbourhood cafe in a quiet residential area. It was this very location that made me fell in love with their coffee - an espresso shot with the taste of s'mores and graham crackers, an experience I still fondly recall to this day.
Slate is also one of the few places that serves a deconstructed tasting flight, a sensory adventure that lets you taste individual elements in a milk+espresso drink. The knowledgeable baristas will walk you through the flight, starting off with the espresso’s origin and individual tasting notes. You then move on to the next drink, a taster of the freshly steamed cow's milk from a local organic farm. Lastly, you will be able to taste and fully appreciate the intended drink, a combination of 1 & 2.
For an adventurous coffee drinker wanting to learn about all things coffee, this is the place to go with large single origin selections and friendly baristas happy to share their knowledge.
Originally from Portland, Stumptown has been around longer than most specialty coffee roasters and can be found at thousands of independent cafes all over North America. However, I always jump at the chance of visiting a Stumptown Cafe as there are only a handful of them in the United States. The only Stumptown in Seattle is located beside Seattle University on 12th Ave.
The bustling cafe is often filled with cafe goers either chatting over a cup of coffee or working away on their laptop. Brick walls and exposed structural frameworks line the length of the cafe, while simplistic interior decor and natural sunlight gives the space an open and welcoming vibe.
We ordered a single origin pour over, which has been consistently delicious each time we visited. Definitely a cafe worth visiting if you are ever around this side of town.
ELM COFFEE ROASTERS
Elm Coffee Roasters has been in Seattle’s micro roaster spotlight for quite some time, from sourcing to roasting, to the final preparation of your coffee, they do it all at their single location situated in Pioneer Square. The inviting space includes a smaller roasting section at the back, segmented off by a glass wall where curious visitors can watch the roasting drum at work during their regular cafe hours.
Bags upon bags of burlap sacks filled with green beans lay on the side of the roasting station, ready to be thrown into the hot drum for their final step before ending up on the retail shelf. A couple of cafe staffs package the roasted beans by the viewing glass, giving us a full view of the assembly line usually hidden behind closed doors.
I always appreciate it when the roasting process is transparent within a cafe serving the final product. In a world where most products are offered in finished form, it is truly refreshing to have transparency on the meticulous processes that shape their very taste from the source to finished product.