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The 18 best Seattle coffee shops

Sure you could go to the first Starbucks, but these Seattle coffee shops are even better

Elm Roasters
Photograph: Flickr/Jonathan Grado
By Jen Woo |
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Seattle may be most famous as the original home of coffee juggernaut Starbucks (still one of the city's biggest attractions), but the city's java scene has a lot more to offer. Regarded as a world center for both roasting and supply chain management, the city is teeming with coffee aficionados that actively participate in a thriving coffee culture (they even offer coffee tours in Seattle). Here, the streets are lined with spots to score a buzzy brew, from large-scale cafes to artisan pour-over carts and from trained baristas and espresso-pullers to time-honored roasters at mom-and-pop shops. So if you're looking for a caffeine buzz in, these top coffee shops in Seattle will please even the most discerning palettes. And don't forget to pair your cuppa with the best brunch in Seattle

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Best Seattle coffee

1
La Marzocco
Photograph: Flickr/Chris Weaver

La Marzocco

Think of La Marzocco as an immersive coffee museum: it serves as a showroom for Italian espresso of the same name. Take in the history of coffee while enjoying flavors of the future via their rotating program where each month a new roaster from around the world takes up residence. Here, you’ll be able to try different beans and techniques from a multitude of countries. Plus, it’s nestled in the KEXP radio station, so you'll also enjoy some good jams.

2

Analog

Analog harkens to a time before the digital age with comics on the tables and an array of newspapers clipped to the wall. Vinyl HiFi plays with stacks of records displayed, while trained baristas offer a multi-roaster selection of coffee. Analog sources beans from local Herkimer Coffee, and offers cold brew on tap—the first Seattle coffee shop to install a tap system. Be sure to grab a donut next door at Top Pot before heading over to enjoy it with a paper, magazine, or comic.

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3
Mr West Cafe Bar
Photograph: Brooke Fitts, Courtesy Mr West Cafe Bar

Mr. West Cafe Bar

Come for an Instagram moment, stay for the drinks. With contemporary design, luxe finishings, artsy vignettes, and beautifully plated food, Mr. West Cafe Bar is the perfect place to snap a pic and find a delicious drink. It serves Sydney-based Campos Coffee with some guest beans to change it up, as well as a variety of other sips like matcha lattes and Seattle Fog. Chow down on eats like almond butter toast with summer peach compote, pistachio cookies, and more.

4

Slate

A popular, independent, family-owned chain, Slate has five locations in the Seattle area, including one at Facebook’s South Lake Union headquarters. Specializing in lighter roasts, the cafe found a niche with its stellar espressos when they opened in 2011. Not sure what you want? The baristas will ask your preferences to create the perfect cup for you, or even a tasting flight.

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5
Seattle Coffee Works
Photograph: Courtesy Seattle Coffee Works

Seattle Coffee Works

Just up the street from the original Starbucks, Seattle Coffee Works offers a standard coffee bar for a tasty pick-me-up and a slow bar to learn about brewing methods and beans. There, you’ll find manual brewing equipment and a selection of single-origin coffees from most coffee-growing regions around the world. Enjoy the award-winning Seattle Space blend, rotating single-origin, freshly-brewed drip coffee and cold brew. 

6
Elm Roasters
Photograph: Courtesy Flickr/CC/Jonathan Grado

Elm Coffee Roasters

Swathed in natural light, this pretty cafe is for the design lover as much as the coffee aficionado with large windows, blonde wood, and exposed brick. The clean decor is only outshined by the supremely sourced beans, which are roasted in house. Here, you can watch the roasting happen, and then take a fresh batch home. Get the espresso, and enjoy it with a pastry from neighboring London Plane. Don’t forget to try their house-made hazelnut milk.

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7
Preserve and Gather
Photograph: Courtesy Preserve and Gather

Preserve and Gather

This Greenwood cafe doesn't offer WiFi, but makes up for it with tasty treats like Fulcrum Coffee Roasters beans and Sea Wolf bread, and a Toddy cold-brew system. The coffee is perfectly brewed, and lattes are creamy while retaining an espresso flavor. They also have delicious house-made jams and marmalades, and treats like ham and jam biscuits, fig bars, and black pepper scones.

8
Poindexter Coffee, Graduate Hotel
Photograph: Andrew Giammarco, Courtest Graduate Hotel

Poindexter Coffee

Situated in the new Graduate Hotel in the University District, Poindexter Coffee is the only place in Seattle to score beans from Tartine Bakery's Coffee Manufactory. In addition to delicious coffee, the shop also serves natural wines from local growers, as well as bottles from California, Europe, and Australia.

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9
Caffé D'arte
Photograph: Courtesy Caffé D'arte

Caffé D'arte

Roasting beans since 1985, Caffé D'arte knows their stuff. Head to the newest location in Pioneer Square to enjoy nitro wood-roasted cold brew and sample stovetop espresso. While you’re at it, nosh on some pastries and sandwiches from local gems including Alki Bakery, French Connections, and Rain Shadow Meats.

10

Makeda and Mingus

Makeda and Mingus is partially named after owner Prashanthi Reddy's rat terrier, so feel free to come with your fur baby to enjoy a solid brew at the dog-friendly cafe. You might even be greeted by Mingus himself. Sip on a Seven Roasters Coffee, which you can sometimes get from the roaster directly, or try the golden milk latte (complete with beautiful foam art), one of Reddy’s childhood recipes. She also has a mocha with house-made chocolate and its own espresso to compliment the flavors. Plus, there’s an array of alternative milk options and a Thursday night homestyle Indian dinner. 

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11
Herkimer Coffee
Photograph: Flickr/Jonathan McIntosh

Herkimer Coffee

Herkimer is the ultimate neighborhood cafe, where the baristas remember you name and order and offers rainchecks if you forgot to bring cash. The mini-chain is best known for its beans, though. Technical and balanced, Herkimer brews begin with premium green coffee from sustainable farms using old world cultivation methods and fair trade practices. Plus, the coffee is roasted daily. Sign up for the subscription box and get beans delivered right to your door every month.

12
Cafe Allegro
Photograph: Flickr/brewbooks

Cafe Allegro

Tucked in the University district, Cafe Allegro is one of the oldest roasteries in the Seattle area and has been serving espresso since 1975. Dubbed “the original espresso bar,” it’s a popular spot for students and coffee aficionados alike. Their beans are sourced from family farms around the world and roasted in small batches in their cafe. It’s locale also exudes a unique experience—the former mortuary garage sits in an alleyway with art-lined walls. Get a cup and Macrina pastry and take in the sights.

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13
Milstead & Co
Photograph: Dan Cole

Milstead and Co.

Visiting the Fremont Troll? Pop over to this modern and spacious caffeine purveyor. Milstead and Co. offers coffees from roasters like Stumptown, Intelligentsia, and Coavathe as well as a rotating list of guest roasters. It’s everything you’d want from a coffee bar with a bright, airy setting, lots of tables to hang out or work, and good drinks.

14
Espresso Vivace
Photograph: Flickr/Breville USA

Espresso Vivace

Internationally acclaimed Espresso Vivace serves up coffee Northern Italian style and may have the greatest cappuccino in the land. The cafe has three locations (two on Capitol Hill, one in South Lake Union) where you can score a multitude of coffee options—everything comes with a double shot. They’re also educators with a vast array of materials to read at the cafe as well as online including espresso and French Press tips.

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15
Victrola Cafe and Roastery
Photograph: Flickr/Jack at Wikipedia

Victrola Cafe and Roastery

While all four locations are lovely, Victrola’s Pike Street location in a 1920s auto row building doubles as a roastery, training facility, and cupping room. Every Wednesday at 11am, visitors can enjoy a free cupping or coffee tasting. Pick up some knowledge on the brand’s single-origin coffee, as well as their blends—they spent countless hours experimenting with roast profiles and blends for espresso. Named after the home phonograph of the '20s, the company was created to embrace the liveliness of the Jazz era, and does so through their airy spaces and bold coffee.

16

Fulcrum Coffee Roasters

This SoDo roaster channeled seven years of coffee tasting and teaching into an ultimate coffee-forward experience. Fulcrum has some of the most interesting beans around—including some from the Yunna province of China—and also get crafty with their drinks. In addition to stellar pour-overs, the cafe also offers drinks like chilled espresso with mulled-apple-rosehip-cascara syrup and orange zest and shaken and charged with nitrogen for just the right amount of foaminess. 

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17
Sound and Fog
Photograph: Courtesy Sound and Fog

Sound and Fog

Coffee and wine in one spot? Yes, please. This specialty coffee bar serves Heart Coffee Roasters and also has a rotating lineup of domestic and international roasters. There’s a standard menu of beverages, cold brew on tap, and a multitude of slow-bar offerings. There’s also canned sparkling cocktails and beer on tap.

18
Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Photograph: Flickr/Rob Bertholf

Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room

Rather than hitting up the Pike Place Market location, head to this upscale, massive, Capitol Hill coffee sanctum to experience specialty beans that are roasted on-site. This is also where the most unique and interesting experiments are tested. There’s even a full bar and high-end Italian bakery called Princi with freshly baked flaky cornetti, pastries, and breads.

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