Seattle is known best known for four things: Coffee, Airplanes, the Space Needle, and Software. While Starbucks is the biggest coffee name in Seattle, it's certainly not the only game in town and it is certainly not the best. Anyone visiting Seattle deserves a proper cup of coffee and to help you find your way to the best coffee in Seattle, here is my top 15 list of coffee shops in Seattle from 11 to 15. You cannot get better coffee than you can at these places and almost all of these places are distinctly Seattle.
In all honesty, all of these coffee shops are great and it was impossible to rank them from 11 to 15 so here they are in no particular order. Each one is great and could very well have been in the top 10.
Pegasus coffee is another great small shop. There are two stores downtown which are good, but they are geared towards the office lunch/rush crowd which means that while the coffee is still good the cafes don't have the charm, so, to really get the best experience you need to take "the boat" to Bainbridge Island and visit the original shop. Here the shop is tucked in an old ivy covered brick building and has been serving coffee since 1980, making it one of the longest running shops on this list.
There are also two Pegasus Coffee shops in downtown Seattle, one in the in the Dexter Horton Building at 3rd and Cherry and another in the Seattle Tower, which is a fantastic art deco tower that was built in 1929.
Zoka's has come a long way. They used to have a completely different brand identity that I just couldn't get behind, along with coffee that was never quite right. I'm happy to report that since then they've ditched the silly font they were using and stepped up their game in both coffee and image. The University location is always packed with students studying for everything and I sincerely appreciate that they offer a splash of mineral water with their machiattos when you are drinking it there. The staff is friendly and there are plenty of places to sit and meet with people at their locations. My main complaint is that their pastry case doesn't have too much selection, although the last time I was there it seemed like that was improving as well.
...Keep reading the next three top coffee shops after the break!
Caffe Fiore has been around for a couple of years, but they have been expanding recently into other parts of the city. All of their cafes have a huge amount of detail in them and someone in charge is obviously a designer. The decor pays homage to art nouveau and places like the this cafe, located north of the Ballard neighborhood, is a place where people come from the surrounding community to meet and talk. This one is also located near Golden Gardens, which is a very popular park. As with the other cafes, the coffee here is great and roasted in house. Most recently, they opened a new cafe in West Seattle, but this is a shop that is expanding.
With just two locations, Herkimer Coffee is another local coffee shop that is easy to miss. They are located up in Phinney Ridge and again in Ravenna. The coffee is great and cafe is very nice place to sit down and relax. The Ravenna location is a great resource for the community in that area because there aren't a lot of alternatives and with Herkimer, there's no real need for one. Really, they could very well be in the top ten for the overall quality of the experience. My main complaint is that they are cash only and there are zero ATMs in the area around the Ravenna location.
Uptown Espresso is another classic Seattle coffee shop that I couldn't resist adding. They deserve a spot here due to their history and contribution to Seattle style coffee, which is what they refer to as "The Velvet Foam" which is what makes latte art possible. Much of the work perfecting "Velvet Foam", or microfoam as it's more commonly referred to as, was done in the 1980s here at Uptown Espresso.
While they have a place in the Seattle coffee world, I've been struggling a little with their prices and the fact that it feels like they haven't kept up with the times in the Coffee world. They are still good, but it seems like newcomers like Milstead & Co. are running circles around them these days.