Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Seattle Coffee Trail....just follow the beans

Now that you know how passionately I feel about Seattle and their coffee culture I am sure that you are dying to know where I fueled up while visiting. I am very happy to remember my delicious adventures from the Pacific Northwest. Here is a rundown of my coffee trail in order of preference:

1. Caffe Ladro - Wow! Absolutely delicious! I visited Caffe Ladro at the suggestion of the Concierge at our hotel. We were looking for breakfast and coffee on the go and he suggested Caffe Ladro. He said that their coffee was well liked and he was right! The baristas were knowledgeable and friendly. I ordered an iced latte and a scone. I was not disappointed. The latte was absolutely perfect. My pet peeve about lattes is when it tastes more like milk than coffee. This was the perfect balance of espresso and milk. The seating was limited, but the store was not overcrowded. If I had planned on staying during any of my visits, I am sure that I would have been able to find a seat without a problem. My scone was perfect. It was a nice blend of sweet and savory. It was not too dry and went well with my latte. Yum-o! I visited Caffe Ladro a couple of times a day after my first visit and the consistency was good. Check out Caffe Ladro and you won’t be disappointed.

Caffe Ladro on Urbanspoon

2. Vérité Coffee/Cupcake Royale - This was a fantastic discovery. We had been walking for what felt like forever (from Woodland Park Zoo to the Locks in Ballard). It was taking so long. All of a sudden a coffee and cupcake place appeared. I thought it was a mirage brought on by sheer exhaustion, but it was in fact real. I went inside to discover beautiful cupcakes and friendly people. The seating was good. There was a good crowd in there for a weekday afternoon. The cupcakes looked fresh. There were enough of each variety, but not so many that you wonder if they sit out all night until they sell. I purchased six cupcakes of various flavors and of course an iced latte. The cupcakes were heaven. I didn’t eat them until later that night when we got back to the hotel and they held up very well considering we were out and about walking around for about a half a day with them. I was not disappointed in one of them. I especially loved the white cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting. The baristas were authentic and clearly knew their way around the bar. My latte was made to order and delivered the balance of milk and espresso flavors that I love. This was a great find.

Cupcake Royale (and Cafe Verite) on Urbanspoon

3. Café Beignet – This was a visit based on a tour book suggestion. Being tourists in Seattle, we had a tour book. While visiting the Space Needle, we realized that this little place was very close by inside Seattle Center. We went in and were delighted with what we saw. We ordered an iced latte and some beignets. Beignets are like fried dough and come from New Orleans. We got ours with powdered sugar. The beignets were made to order fresh in front of us and were soft and buttery and the perfect tourist’s snack. They gave us the fuel we needed to keep exploring. The latte was also good. Honestly, it was not the best latte I had in Seattle, but it was definitely not the worst I had every tasted. It was not disappointing and I enjoyed it quite nicely. Unfortunately, the coffee competition in Seattle is fierce and I had some very delicious coffee on my vacation.

Cafe Beignet on Urbanspoon

4. The Woods (outside of Seattle in Ferndale, WA): This place was a delightful surprise. We were driving back to Seattle from a day-trip to Vancouver when we stopped for coffee. This place was there to fill our needs. The quality of the coffee was very good. I ordered an iced latte and it was quite delicious.

5. Starbucks – Starbucks. Of course I visited Starbucks while in Seattle. I don’t think it would have been possible for me to visit the Emerald City without a visit to the coffee giant. I went to a couple of different locations including the first Starbucks store. The Starbucks lattes I had in Seattle were much better than Starbucks lattes I have in Boston. I believe this to be because the baristas in Seattle are real baristas and not of the “push button” variety. I found it odd that Starbucks would employ “push button baristas” in their locations outside of Seattle. It just goes to prove that Seattle coffee drinkers demand nothing short of perfection and the theory regarding competition and quality is correct. My Starbucks visits were definitely not my best lattes in Seattle, but they were satisfactory.

Starbucks (1st & Pike) on Urbanspoon

Something I discovered while in Seattle was the Seattle Coffee Crawl. I was, unfortunately, unable to participate in this tour because of timing. However, I did see one in progress. The Seattle Coffee Crawl is basically just what it sounds like. It is a walking tour of Seattle’s coffee hot spots. The tour makes for a great deal of walking, but you learn a great deal about coffee and Seattle’s coffee history. The tour guide that I met seemed knowledgeable about coffee culture and the city of Seattle. The participants were engaged in her narrative and asking thoughtful questions. The Seattle Coffee Crawl is definitely on my “must-do” list for any future visit I make to Seattle.

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