Seattle Coffee Tour, originally uploaded by Mike.

This past weekend I went to Seattle for a wedding.  While in Seattle we did what those in Seattle do; we went on a coffee tour.  We started with Zoka Coffee followed by Victrola Coffee and then off to Caffe Vita.  We skipped Seattle Coffee Works only because its proximity to Pike Place Market and the mayhem that it was on a weekend.  I really enjoyed Zoka for the nice atmosphere and solid espresso.  I could see it being a local haunt to bring your computer or book and hunker down for a study/code session.

Victrola also had a nice atmosphere but included a view of their roasting room in a quiet area of Seattle.  The baristas were well informed, and unlike the other places Victrola was the only house with per-cup drip coffee.  The option of various flavors of per-cup drip coffee are what I enjoy most about my local haunt, Philz Coffee, in San Francisco.

One of the things you should know about Seattle coffee houses is that all of them display a sign stating that “espresso drinks includes a double shot” with the exception of Zoka which further qualifies it as 19 grams. Welcome to the city of the caffeinated!

Coffee & NYTimes, originally uploaded by Mike.

We thought we were done only to find out that unlike other cities, Seattle is very particular and opinionated about their coffee.  If you are in San Francisco and care about coffee, most everyone will agree that Philz is the place to go.  In Seattle everyone has their own opinion, so as I told our story of visiting certain coffee houses, others began thetelling  of their own favorites – and everyone has a favorite.  In a bar our waitress stopped and began listing the places she frequented which included the: favorite latte, close local haunt, best for social life, and those with the best “cupping”.

You heard that right, and it’s not some medieval torture device.  A “cupping” is coffee talk for a “tasting”.  Just like a wine tasting the coffee shops have regular cuppings to teach you all about the coffee they roast, brew, and serve.

Given the long list of recommendations, we made sure to hit two more places before leaving town.  Stumptown Coffee Roasters is one of the mainstays of coffee aficionados.  It’s in a semi-secluded area of town with the downstairs devoted to the roasting room which visitors are welcome to visit.  The last stop was Caffe Umbria located in the downtown Seattle.  I didn’t care for the atmosphere which catered more to people on the go than those who wanted to sit and sip, but the chocolate wedge that came with each cup turned the tide on my mood and the espresso was solid.

Seattle Bay by Boat, originally uploaded by Mike.