Monday, July 19, 2010

In Search of Espresso Part III

This is the third part of a likely four part series. In short I'm attempting to try a new coffee shop each day in July. You can read Part I here or Part II here.

July 12 - Elliot Bay Cafe
Previous home of the Elliot Bay Book Store (a Seattle stalwart which recently moved locations ... after changing owners) this little coffee shop is underground. It's also famous for being the model for the shop in Frasier although it's been remodeled since.

This is a little funny because I had started to run out of places to hit in Pioneer Square. I did a little wandering in search of a new shop and went by a place called Good Coffee but they are a bean retailer not a coffee shop. I was roaming back through P Square and remembered that this was here!

Their menu is nice and the location is very spacious as they serve food all day long. I'd never had coffee here but it was really good - probably my second favorite so far.

July 13 - Espresso Vivace
This one came about purely by happenstance. I stayed home to watch the Tour (and Lance's horrible day) and dropped by REI on the way to work to grab some toe socks (see my 50k race report to understand why). Vivace is across the street so I decided to kill two birds with one stone.

I grabbed a pastry and ordered my coffee. This looked like a place that would have good coffee and they had quite a bar - open and round with good seating. It's a bit "too clean" to have t at Seattle coffee shop feel.

So I guess the barista told the register my order correctly and they totally undercharged me. I recall that the register asked me "couple of shots and a pastry" which sounded fine since he was trying to be a hipster (we can debate the finer point of what "couple" means at a later date). There was some kind of interchange between the two after the fact and it became clear that the guy at the register was not happy about it and even muttered "he's getting quite a deal." Honestly if that's true then they may be competing with Umbria on price and I left a nice tip and given the general disposition of this guy I was not inclined to correct his mistake. And guess what - their coffee ain't all that by a long shot.

I've read some other reviews of this place and there seems to be a general theme of poor service. I can see why.

July 14 - Starbucks
Ugh, I cheated. Was running late to work and needed to grab something fast. I had not done my research and was out of places immediately in Pioneer Square.

July 15 - Return to CaffĂ© Vita
Nearly same as yesterday (running late, in a hurry) but I like this place enough I wanted to come back.

July 16 - Freshy's Coffee
I've run by this shop several times on long runs and it's always looked intriguing. It's a whole on the wall on California which is the main drag through West Seattle. It is situated near the Admiral Junction (there are three and they all correspond with which street crosses California - Admiral, Alaska, Morgan) so it's a bit out of the way as many shops will be from now on.

Perhaps I caught them on a bad day but the mood was quite down in the place and the barista was just not too friendly (nor mean, just blah). No conversation. No smile or real acknowledgement. I just ordered my coffee, she made it, I waited, she gave it to me, I left.

Aside from the lack of experience there were a few pastries to choose from, the seating seemed geared more around couches and a bar versus tabled seating although there are a few. The coffee also is a bit too acidic / citrusy for my taste.

July 17 - Cafe Osita
Situated in retail space under an apartment building on a busy street this little cafe is a bit tough to get to (it's also on the "other" side of the street from the direction of my morning commute). If yesterday's experience was a disappointment today's was a joy.

There is not much in the way of space in the cafe itself although there is some outdoor seating. The inside has a Spanish / Mediterranean feel. Based on what I saw they offer vegan-friendly fare. I decided to sample a piece of chocolate bread which was phenomenal. The espresso was great as well and the service was very good.

This cafe is certainly my most favorite of what I've sampled so far.

Certainly this was a good way to cap another week of espresso sampling. I'm looking forward to the next 12 days of July!


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