Buying Guides

The Best Coffee in Seattle

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Seattle, Washington: a city beaming with people, entertainment, outdoor adventures, beautiful scenery, and most importantly: coffee. Seattle is known to be the home of some of the best coffee in the United States, as it’s nurtured and cultivated a coffee culture that’s taken over the city since the 1970s.

When it comes to finding the best coffee in Seattle, there’s a perfect fit for even the quirkiest coffee lover. Trying to decide if you should visit a coffee shop or a coffee roaster when visiting? A lot of the time, many coffee shops in Seattle offer both!

We’ve looked at both of these options to make sure that whether you choose a latte from a coffee shop or a bag of whole bean coffee–you can choose the right kind of coffee for you.

coffee Culture in Seattle

Home to the Space Needle, the Seattle Seahawks, rainy-day weather, grunge music scene, and many coffee-obsessed people, Seattle is a dream for coffee enthusiasts. The birthplace of the corporate titan Starbucks Coffee, Seattle has been shining in the spotlight of the coffee scene for decades now. 

Why Seattle?

The Seattle coffee craze began with the flow of immigrants from Sweden and Norway into the state. Bringing their love for coffee into the misty city limits of Seattle, it was the Norwegian and Swedish influences that sparked the coffee wave in the early 1970s, starting the third-wave revolution in the city and eventually leading to the first Starbucks location. 

Why Seattle? 

It does seem strange as to why Seattle has such an extensive and colorful coffee history. Many have wondered why Seattle is at the height of the coffee scene in the United States. The possible answer? The weather!

For most of the year, the weather in Seattle is typically darker, colder, and rainy, making it the perfect setting to cozy up indoors with a cup of coffee. The climate itself makes it an ideal location to sit by the window, read a book, and sip your cup of joe. The already small-scale indie coffee scene that was already brewing in Seattle was only amplified by the establishment of Starbucks. 

The Best Coffee Shops and Roasters in Seattle

If you’re planning on visiting Emerald City, you’ll need some caffeine to perk you up and help keep a pep in your step, and any of these savory coffee shops will suffice! Known for their quality coffee, outstanding customer service, and pleasant aesthetic and atmosphere, all of these shops represent the dynamic coffee culture that you can expect to encounter during your time in Seattle. 

Another thing to note about many of these small, locally-owned coffee shops is that several of them also roast their own beans, and sell them for wholesale. Though that fact may surprise you, because of how saturated and diverse the coffee culture in Seattle is, a lot of coffee shops carefully roast their own beans to create and preserve their own niche of flavors. 

Coffeholic House

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Seattle’s first Vietnamese coffee shop, Coffeeholic has been curing caffeine cravings and taking over the Tik-Tok scene since its debut in March of 2020. Despite opening in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Coffeeholic persevered and has taken its place as one of the more unique, locally-owned, and culturally centered cafes in the Seattle area. 

Known for its friendly atmosphere, traditional coffee drinks and treats, and colorful, mesmerizing presentation, Coffeeholic has captured the attention of many gen Z-ers and millennials alike. You can also rest assured that their coffee is indeed 100% authentic because Coffeeholic only serves single-origin beans sourced from Vietnam and roasts them in small batches in-house–meaning you’ll never find coffee like this anywhere else!

Owned by a husband and wife duo, Chen & Trang, Coffeeholic’s mission is to create a modern take on traditional Vietnamese coffee culture and make it accessible and enjoyable to the current American coffee scene. Located southeast of the downtown Seattle area, you can expect to enjoy signature drinks such as the Coffeeholic Dream (not too bitter, not too sweet Vietnamese coffee with a layer of salted cheese foam on top) and the Purple Haze Latte (made with homemade syrup and purple ube foam–made from a yam native to the Philippines). Try these coffees in Coffeeholic’s Egg Bottles as well! 

Herkimer Coffee

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A roastery and cafe combination, Herkimer Coffee has been curing caffeine cravings since 2003. Created by dynamic duo Mike Prins and Scott Richardson, both men have extensive experience in the Seattle coffee scene. With four locations in Phinney Ridge, Ravenna, Dexter, and 4th & Blanchard, Herkimer Coffee has had a significant presence in the coffee scene in Seattle.

With a welcoming and friendly staff, each time you visit Herkimer coffee you can expect to be greeted with a smile and a delicious cup of coffee, whether it be the cold brew,  robust espresso, or sweet, mouthwatering pastries that Herkimer offers. Can’t make it to every location? Herkimer also offers a subscription service! 

Our favorite characteristic about Herkimer Coffee is their careful selection of coffee beans from small, locally-owned farms that utilize old, traditional cultivation methods when cultivating coffee. This way all of the coffee selected for brewing at Herkimer is specially selected and is grown without the use of harsh chemicals or pesticides. 

Cafe Hagen

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A lighter aesthetic in a brighter physically brighter setting, Café Hagen is the creation of Maria Beck, an extremely skilled and passionate coffee connoisseur who opened Café Hagen in January of 2020. Originally of Danish descent, Beck made sure to build Café Hagen with the subtle, magical charm of Copenhagen in mind. Hagen’s mission is to allow everyone to experience the best elements of “hygge”, otherwise defined as the coziness, contentment, and enjoyment you feel from the simple things in life. 

This feeling of hygge can be experienced in almost every aspect of Café Hagen, from the large front windows to the nature-inspired, clean-cut design, to the delicious drink and food options. Some of the signature coffee options include the Mocha Flight (where you are given the individual ingredients and you can combine them yourself), iced matcha lattes, the espresso trio flight, and more. And if you’re hungry, Café Hagen has a multitude of savory snacks to enjoy like the salmon toast, Northwest Brunch, and chicken pesto sandwich. 

In a brunch mood? Café Hagen also has a delectable selection of beer and wine selections to enjoy with your lunch if you’ve already had enough caffeine for the day. Rain or shine, Café Hagen holds our spot as the coziest, yet the classiest option on our list. 

Santo Coffee Co

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Recognizable by their oh-so-instagrammable marble countertop, Santo Coffee Co is an espresso bar that’s heavily inspired by the balance between preserving the natural flavors within their ripe green coffee beans and coaxing those flavors out during the roasting process. Holding the hard work that farmers put into the cultivation of their beans to the highest standard, Santo keeps their menu simple, allowing guests to enjoy coffee through the purest brewing methods. 

Created by two couples who both have a passion for the Seattle area, Santo Coffee is on a mission to ensure that all of their guests feel comfortable and are able to experience a sense of community over a cup of their authentic coffee.

Every cup of coffee sold at Santo Coffee has been crafted with succulent beans from one specific Columbian blend–the Santo Blend. You can expect a full body and balanced flavor, particularly with notes of succulent red fruits, blueberry, sugar cane, and sweet caramel. Santo has especially sourced this blend to ensure coffee quality, and to utilize a direct trade model with the local farmers as well. 

Monorail Espresso

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Fueling Seattle’s espresso enthusiasts since 1980, Monorail Espresso is Seattle’s hole-in-the-wall coffee shop, but it’s been a titan in the industry for over 30 years. Beginning as Seattle’s first street coffee cart, owners Chuck and Susie Beek grew their little coffee business into a company large enough to cure hundreds of caffeine cravings every day.

Serving only espresso-based drinks (sorry, drip coffee lovers), you can expect to enjoy classic drink options like lattes, cortados, cold brew, and more. With three different locations (Pike Street, Columbia Center, Westlake Avenue), you can experience the espresso that’s been perking up the city of Seattle for over three decades. 

Monorail not only has three different shop locations but also offers online merchandise as well. From bags of whole espresso beans to grinders, hats, sweaters, and mugs, Monorail has all the memorabilia you could dream of. Nowadays, Monorail is a women-owned coffee company that holds the values of the local community and Seattle’s history close to heart. When it comes to supporting the local community, nobody exceeds Monorail Espresso. 

Seven Coffee Roasters

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Half coffee shop, half Hawaiian grocery store, Seven Coffee Roasters has been crafting delicious Hawaiian-styled coffee for many years. Founded by Sean Lee, a Hawaiian native and coffee connoisseur, Seven Coffee Roasters also provides small-batch roasted coffee to several small businesses around the Seattle area–even coining the motto: “The Small Roaster for Small Businesses.”

Every cup of coffee from your visit at Seven Coffee Roasters will only be made from  Kona coffee, aka coffee that’s been cultivated on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa, the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island in Hawaii. Known for its succulent, rich flavor, not only is Kona known by many coffee aficionados are also aware that it’s some of the most expensive coffee in the world. 

Easily noticeable with its black brick exterior, Seven has a warm, welcoming atmosphere that will keep you coming back for seconds. Not only can you buy a savory latte and grab a bite to eat while there, but you can also purchase a small-batch roasted bag of Kona coffee to bring home with you, too! 

Fun fact: Another coffee shop in Seattle, named Makeda and Mingus, is a sister coffee shop of Seven Coffee Roasters. So next time you visit Seven, make sure to give Makeda and Mingus a try! 

Cafe Allegro

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Known as the oldest coffee shop in Seattle, Cafe Allegro first made its way onto the coffee scene in 1975. With art-lined walls and spacious seating areas, pay a visit to the always-cozy cafe to enjoy signature drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, or an iced cold brew on a hot afternoon. 

We love Cafe Allegro because it’s both a coffee shop and coffee roaster, and all of the coffee you can get from in the shop is roasted in-house. In addition, you can also receive bags of Cafe Allegro’s whole bean coffee through their website. Some of their signature roasts include Sole Nero Dark Roast, Original Espresso, and Swiss Water Decaf.

The best news? They also offer a subscription service! Cafe Allegro will ship bags of whole bean coffee to you up to every four weeks. Every bag is small-batch roasted and is immediately packaged tightly to preserve freshness, and then shipped to your door! 

Starbucks Reserve

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Located a mere nine blocks from the original Starbucks location that first opened in Pike Place in 1971, the Starbucks Reserve is a large, in-depth immersion experience into the passion behind Starbucks’s love for coffee and the coffee industry. Establishing a thoughtfully designed environment, the Starbucks Reserve is more than just a cafe, it’s a place to enjoy some of the rarest, most distinguished coffee that Starbucks has to offer.

Along with a rich, robust cup of coffee, you can expect to see things like the Solari Board which specialty coffee of the day, the giant hoppers that store freshly roasted beans via Starbucks’s pneumatic system. Some other classic figures like the large and small roaster, the copper cask, coffee library, experience bar, and the storage stilos are some more impressive items that you can see during your visit as you taste and try some delectable coffees. 

Ghost Alley Espresso

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Located in the heart of Pikes Place Market, Ghost Alley Espresso is a tiny espresso shop with a big personality! It holds its place as one of the spookiest shops on our list. Known for its quirky history and charm, Ghost Alley was founded in 2012 by Mercedes Carrabba, who quickly noticed odd things happening in the shop. From items being mysteriously misplaced to stories of staff seeing the ominous outline of a masculine figure–the eerie happenings have been attributed to the presence of one ghost with a strong history in the market: Arthur Goodwin. 

Though you may or may not get a glimpse of Arthur during your visit, we can guarantee that you can definitely expect to enjoy the most robust espresso that Seattle has to offer. Selling both coffee and wholesale beans, there are a few signature drinks from the menu that had us drooling just reading it! Some of our favorite signature drinks include the Sweet Lydia, Tumeric Mocha, and Spicy Mocha. 

However, it’s important to note that Ghost Alley’s coffee is not actually roasted in-house. In fact, they’ve created unique blends with complex flavor palates from a local Seattle coffee roaster: Middle Fork Roasters. While you’re visiting, make sure to relax for a bit and enjoy the view of the famous Seattle Gum Wall. 

Root Coffee Shop

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Indoor plant shop + specialty coffee bar? Count us in! Ever since 2019, Root has been cultivating unique and beautiful tropical plants placed in elegant handmade ceramic jars, as well as roasting carefully cultivating coffee from different roasters around the world. 

If you don’t have time to swing by in person and grab a cup of coffee and a plant or two, Root also offers coffee subscriptions so that you can enjoy their carefully crafted coffee in the comfort of your own home! Root Coffee will send you two bags of coffee per month for up to six months, rotating options for you to try with different bags of coffee. 

La Marzocco USA Showroom

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A titan in the world of espresso, La Marzocco is a high-end Italian espresso machine company that has been engineering espresso machine’s ever since 1927. Coffee fanatics who are often fans of La Marzocco’s machinery will travel far and wide to experience their Seattle facility to witness one-of-a-kind espresso brewing in action. Not only is this because their espresso is exquisite, but it’s also because this cafe is the only La Marzocco cafe in the United States. 

La Marzocco deserves a spot on our list as one of the best coffee shops in Seattle because its machines are so well designed that they’ve actually made their way into the most distinguished cafes across America. Simply put: you can tell how good coffee is at a coffee shop based on the espresso quality, and La Marzocco has been setting that standard for decades. 

With large indoor seating areas and big windows to allow light in, you can sit and enjoy a delicious drink or two with friends. And while you enjoy your morning latte, you can even walk through the small record shop attached to the store, or listen to the radio show, KEXP, since the local studio is attached to the coffee shop! 

Victrola Coffee Roasters

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A cafe/roaster combo, Victrola Coffee Roasters has been serving the Seattle area for over twenty years. Opening the first cafe location in 2000 and roasting their coffee in-house three years later, Victrola has created a place for coffee enthusiasts to develop a sense of community while enjoying a cup of joe at the same time. Nowadays, Victrola has four different locations open to cater to more of the Seattle area. 

Inspired by the 1920s jazz scene and named after the popular phonograph brand, if there’s one thing that Victrola has perfected: class and presentation. Upon visiting, you can expect to see signature and seasonal drinks like the housemade Ginger Molasses Latte, Cardamom Latte, and the Steamline Espresso. They also offer whole bean coffee for sale that you can buy online, and like so many other coffee roasters out there, they also offer coffee subscriptions from every week to every two months! 

One of our favorite characteristics about Victrola is the way that Victrola invests in its relationships with farmers who cultivate their beans. They also go above and beyond when it comes to experimenting with the roasting processes and trying out new blends and flavor combinations.

Lighthouse Coffee Roasters

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Since 1993 Lighthouse Coffee has been roasting succulent ripe green coffee beans in their vintage cast-iron coffee roaster. Known in the Seattle area for their dedication to roasting coffee with the utmost care and flavor preservation, Lighthouse also goes the extra mile to accurately describe the flavor components of each roast to its customers, helping them find the roast that best suits their taste buds. 

Some of our favorites include the Washington Wild (with notes of chocolate, berry, and plum), Sumatra Mandheling (notes of herbs, root beer, and chocolate), and the classic Lighthouse Blend (a fusion of Lighthouse’s best Latin coffees).

Another thing we love about Lighthouse is that it’s both a coffee shop and roaster. Though you can’t order individual drinks from Lighthouse, there are SO many delectable coffee blends to try. And if you have your own cafe that you’re looking to outsource a coffee roaster for, Lighthouse offers wholesale options as well. 

Elm Coffee Roasters

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Operating with two different roaster locations, Elm Coffee Roasters offers a variety of different roasts as well as multiple options for ordering whole bean coffee. The brainchild of owner Brendan Mullally, Elm’s primary mission is to provide healthy, quality sourced coffee to the local coffee scene of Seattle. 

One thing we enjoy about Elm is that they go above and beyond both with the quality of their beans and roasting, but also as exceptional delivery service! Whether you’re ordering whole beans, bottles of coffee, or pints of iced coffee, you can order your coffee to pick up at either Elm location, or they can deliver it to your front door via the “Tammy Van” if you’re located in the Seattle area. 

The Verdict

If we’re being honest, finding the top coffee shops in Seattle is almost an impossible task. However, to us, that’s actually a good thing. The Seattle area has been creating amazing coffee for a long time now, and almost every coffee shop that you could visit while there can give you a decent cup of joe to fuel you throughout the day.

That being stated, there are definitely some Seattle coffee shops and roasters that stand apart from the crowd. We’ve created our list with shops that offer one-of-a-kind signature drinks, have an overall friendly staff, and have created their own unique, individual atmosphere. And the best part is that even if you don’t get to order a latte while visiting a specific shop, you can still purchase a bag of coffee beans if the coffee shop roasts their own beans in-house, or opt to have them sent to your home via a subscription. 

No matter what you decide, any of these shops, both old and new, will provide you with a delicious cup of coffee, an outstanding experience, and deep respect for the coffee culture in Seattle. So have fun exploring and experimenting and as always, 

Happy caffeinating! 

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