What’s the first thing you think of when you hear “Seattle”? We’ll bet you a cup of joe that you said “coffee” (or rain). As the home of Starbucks (the original is still one of the city’s top attractions, in Pike Place Market), Seattleites take their coffee seriously. Coffee in Seattle is like wine—baristas can regale you with bean origin, tasting notes, aromas and pairings. You can even take a barista class to hone your skills.
The best coffee shops in Seattle take pride in their sourcing, and offer excellent renditions of drip coffee, pourover, espresso, lattes, cappuccinos and whatever other coffee concoctions you can think of. These spots are perfect for your morning wake-up or afternoon pick-me-up. Caffeine is key to tackling all the best things to do in the city, and these Seattle coffee shops come through. Not to worry—you’ll find the same delicious coffee at breakfast and brunch too.
Best coffee in Seattle
Photograph: Brooke Fitts, Courtesy Mr West Cafe Bar
1. 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 uses beans from local roaster Stamp Act 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.
Photograph: Courtesy Seattle Coffee Works
2. 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.
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.
4. 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.
Photograph: Courtesy Preserve and Gather
5. 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.
Photograph: Andrew Giammarco, Courtest Graduate Hotel
6. Poindexter Coffee
Situated in the 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.
Photograph: Dan Cole
7. 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.
8. 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.
Photograph: Courtesy Caffé D’arte
9. 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 purveyors.
A popular, independent, family-owned chain, Slate has several locations in the Seattle area. 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.
11. Makeda and Mingus
Bring your fur baby to enjoy a solid brew at this dog-friendly cafe. Sip on hot cup of coffee, or try the golden milk latte (complete with beautiful foam art), one of the owner’s childhood recipes. There’s also 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 menu of Indian favorites.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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. On select Fridays 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.
Photograph: Courtesy Sound and Fog
16. 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.
17. 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.