Friday, June 01, 2012

Top 15 Seattle Coffee Shops (6 through 10)

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, number 6 to 10. You cannot get better coffee than you can at these places and almost all of these places are distinctly Seattle.

6. Milstead & Co.

Milstead & Co. is brand new and really made an impression when I discovered them a month or two after they opened. They're located in Fremont, which is (was?) known for being a little bit eccentric and the coffee shop itself is easy to miss. There are no big banners or advertisements. People come here for the coffee by word of mouth. It's an easy place to like and it really does give Fremont a new type of coffeehouse. There is an outdoor patio to sit on and the space itself is large and uncluttered.

7. Top Pot Doughnut

Top Pot Doughnut earns high marks for their coffee, their treats, and the fantastic design of their shops. My absolute favorite shop is the downtown location, but here we have the Capitol Hill branch. The story behind the name is that they found a vintage neon sign from a Chinese restaurant called the "TopSpot". The "S" fell off in transit, leaving them with "Top Pot".

All of the shops share wall-to-wall bookcases as a common element and a design DNA that reaches back to the 1940s. The book on the shelves are older, forgotten books that have been given a second life as decoration, but they cover a wide range of topics and curiosity has driven me to take one of them down to read through on more than one occasion. The other shared element, of course, is doughnuts. These are some of the highest regarded doughnuts in Seattle and come in a variety of flavors. You can read about all of them here on their website, but pictured below is an old fashioned "sandcastle", which is cinnamon and sugar. All of the flavors are fairly conventional (this is not a "Voodoo Doughtnut" clone), but you can effectively mix and match what type of doughnut you want with what kid of topping you want. If I still wanted cinnamon/sugar on my doughtnut, but preferred chocolate cake or a raised doughnut both of those are hiding in the second picture below. For coffee, one of their unique flavors is the Ovaltine mocha, which adds a malted, smoother sweetness to the standard mocha.

The doughnuts are high-quality traditional doughnuts with virtually all of the classics. They phased out my favorite, chocolate peanut, awhile ago due to allergy concerns, but a chocolate-cake maple doughnut is just as good. Coffee is served up in standard Seattle style, with the addition of a malt mocha on the menu.

8. All City Coffee

...Keep reading the next three top coffee shops after the break!

All City Coffee is located down in Georgetown and is worth a visit just for the neighborhood alone. If you're looking for the next big thing, Georgetown is already a decade into reinventing itself as a vibrant community with lots of cool shops. It's not the next big thing, but it's still in that phase where it's alternative and edgy enough to keep some people away (also being right under the approach to Boeing field doesn't hurt) and having places that you want to be. In another decade, Georgetown is going to pop for better or worse. All City Coffee is a great little cafe that serves up great coffee. The atmosphere is mellow and there is always a good amount of art on the wall. Again, if you are a tourist you might not make it into this section of town, but it is worth a visit.

9. Stumptown

So, Stumptown isn't actually from Seattle. They're from Portland, Oregon, which in itself today reminds me of Seattle in the early 1990s. All the cool kids love Portland these days, but despite regional rivalry Stumptown is a great cup of coffee and since their roaster for the Seattle area is located on 12th and Madison, I feel like they deserve a mention.

Stumptown has become a popular roaster in the region, and their big thing is that not only do they sell beans, but they provide strong support for getting the most out of those beans. They provide barista training at the 12th and Madison location to make sure that their shots come out perfect on any type of espresso machine (business customers only, sorry) and if you drop by at 3pm, they have coffee cuppings that are open to the public for free. You can geek out and learn to appreciate the differences in flavors that come from different coffee growing regions along with the locals.

10. Caffe Vita

Caffe Vita have friendly coffee houses and have a great knack for connecting with local neighborhoods. They started in 1995 and all of their shops are located in places that are up and coming (or were). For example, the Pike/Pine location which is now the epicenter of Capitol Hill, didn't have a lot going on there when it opened in the 1990s. They got in before the area got hot. Their location in Fremont was in before that little neighborhood center started taking off, which is now home to several great restaurants and is becoming a center of gravity for the community. The same can be said about all of their locations. They tend to locate in places that are up and coming. The disadvantage is that if you are a tourist, you may never end up in these areas. Overall, I especially like the Queen Anne location. It's a quiet neighborhood and it really feels like a small community coffee shop. There are six stores in Seattle, one in Olympia, two in Portland, and they just recently opened a shop in NYC.

Keep reading the top 15 coffee shops in Seattle (11 through 15)


  1. I'm enjoying your blog! I found it via Trip Advisor because my family and I are headed for Seattle for vacation. Trying new coffee shops is high on our list of preferred activities.

  2. Thanks! I'm glad you are enjoying it and welcome to Seattle when you get here. Be sure to try Milstead! I've been warming to it more and more over the past month or two. :)