According to an old tale, Seattle got its start in coffee when a dock worker found a mishandled bag of beans, roasted them himself, and started peddling them around town. Seattle was a frontier settlement with an active sea port, and the combination of access to bean importers and an appetite for strong coffee among Seattleites gave birth to the capitol. Fast forward to today, Seattle is home to coffee giants, innovative coffee gear makers and a thriving small-batch roasting community. With the most coffee shops per capita, Seattle boasts an incredibly rich cafe scene for all types of coffee lovers. Here’s my shortlist of Seattle coffee shops by neighborhood.
How did coffee get its start in Seattle? Learn more about Seattle's rich coffee history and how coffee got its start here.
In Seattle, coffee is sacred. This city became defined by its local roasters and cafes on every street corner. People here truly care about their coffee and a day is not complete without grabbing a cup (or four) to enjoy and get us through the day.
How it All Began
During the late 60’s and early 70’s, coffee houses began to pop up all over the city. Seattle’s cold and rainy months combined with the bohemian culture of this time period made for the perfect place to start serving the hot beverage. The Last Exit was created in 1967 in the University District as a very popular gathering spot for poets, students, and artists. Some years later in 1971, three coffee connoisseurs did something that would jump start the coffee culture in Seattle. Gordon Bowker, Jerry Baldwin, and Zev Siegl wanted to share their love of high-quality beans. In order to do this they pooled their money, ordered coffee in bulk from Peet’s Coffee and Tea in Berkeley, California, and then opened up the nautical-themed Starbucks Coffee on Western Avenue. In 1976, these roasters moved to Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market location, which is referred to as the original Starbucks location.
The creation of Starbucks paved the way for coffee today, but in the 1990’s we started to see an increase in more independent roasters and coffee shops popping up around Seattle. Even with corporations like Starbucks or Seattle’s Best Coffee on every corner, the growing coffee consumer culture has taken an increased focus on speciality coffee, which allows local roasters to thrive in the eyes of people who know and love freshly roasted coffee.
Pike Place Market / DowntownFontéDirectionsOrder Coffee
A short walk from Pike Place Market, Fonté’s signature cafe is upscale with a robust menu of single origin roasts. This is your stop: if you enjoy medium-to-dark roasts, Sage Lattes, and could use a snack not called a protein box.Seattle Coffee Works
Seattle Coffee Works was home to Seattle’s first original multi-roaster cafe. Today Seattle Coffee Works is known for roasting coffee sourced directly from some of the world’s top micro lots. You’re bound to see Seattle Coffee Works’s owner Sebastian, making conversation with regulars, and showing off his photos from his latest trip to Kenya. Try one of their lightly roasted single origin roasts brewed your way at the pour over bar. Ladro
An iconic local Seattle coffee brand with 15+ cafes around town. Ladro’s cafe on Pine is a short walk from the market. They always have a lighter single origin roast on tap from a farm owner Jack Kelly has visited on his annual pilgrimage. Ladro bakes their own pastries and always has uniquely crafted coffee drinks on the menu like their Medici a mocha with fresh orange zest. Monorail EspressoDirections
The coffee cart turned ‘hole in the wall’ espresso bar on Pike has been a Seattle phenomenon since the 1980s. Monorail has quite the cult following so be prepared to get in line. Espresso only! No drip here.FremontETG Cafe & Bakery (Longshoremen’s Daughter Roasters)DirectionsOrder Coffee
Established in the early 90s, the ETG Cafe & Bakery is one of the oldest coffee shops in Seattle. Owner Lori Mason roasts a rotating menu of single origin coffees and blends (Walkin’ Boss and Bearded Lady) which have become staples for locals and Bean Box customers nationwide. Delicious pastries are baked fresh every morning which is remarkable given the tight quarters. This is the spot Matthew and I discovered how wonderful freshly roasted coffee can taste — full of flavor without any bitter edge. Lori’s coffee was featured in our very first Bean Box. Lighthouse Roasters
Nestled in a Fremont neighborhood, Lighthouse is Seattle’s first cafe and roastery combination. Lighthouse is known for their full bodied dark roasts. You can watch the Lighthouse team roasting your coffee evert Monday-Friday from 8am-12pm. Milstead & Co.Directions
One of the only multi-roaster cafes in Seattle, Milstead serves up a rotating menu of lightly roasted single origin coffees roasted in Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver. Coffee snobs will love the experience as all their coffees are brewed-to-order on a scale with an AeroPress. This was Bean Box’s first 'satellite office' as we grew from an idea to a business worthy of a bigger space. BallardSlateDirectionsOrder Coffee
One of the most popular third wave coffee roasters in Seattle, Slate’s first location in Ballard is a shrine to the new coffee movement. Enjoy single origin coffee tasting flights, deconstructed lattes, and Slate’s owners methodically brewing your coffee in a Chemex. This is an experience worth having. Slate’s coffees are delicious. Queen AnneLa Marzocco Cafe & ShowroomDirections
A beautiful coffee institution at the base of the space needle. La Marzocco is a high end espresso machine manufacturer with equipment crafted in Italy. Their cafe invites a new roaster every month to hold court for the month. It’s the who’s who of specialty coffee and a worthwhile experience for Seattleites and tourists. Capitol HillVictrolaDirectionsOrder Coffee
Since 2000, Victrola has been spinning the coffee hits fueling Seattle's thriving Capitol Hill neighborhood. Through longstanding relationships with farms and endless experimentation, Victrola refines each roast into a true masterpiece.Caffe VitaDirectionsOrder Coffee
Caffe Vita is one Seattle’s largest independent roasters. Their cafe and roastery on Capital Hill is a tribute to their focus on coffee. It’s also ground zero for hipster sightings. Espresso VivaceDirections
A blend of art and science, Vivace only serves espresso and serves it well. Vivace’s owner David Shomer is a local legend. He’s known as the godfather of latte art and is infamous for his obsession with pulling the perfect espresso shot. You can attend his espresso training series for a crash course, or drop into Vivace to experience it yourself.University DistrictBroadcast Coffee RoastersDirectionsOrder Coffee
One of Seattle’s most beautiful and modern cafes, Barry Fought’s Broadcast cafe on Roosevelt is elegant and serves up his growing line of lightly roasted single origins and blends. The coffees are as bright as his the open cafe space. Seven Cafe & MarketDirectionsOrder Coffee
A neighborhood gem, Seven Cafe & Market is one part coffee shop and one part Hawaiian grocery store in Ravenna. The owner is a Hawaiian native and head roaster for Seven Roasters. Get your Kona coffee in Seattle fix here!GreenwoodHerkimerDirectionsOrder Coffee
A roastery and cafe combination by Seattle coffee veterans Mike Prins and Scott Richardson. Herkimer’s coffees are directly sourced and without question some of the best in the city. Order a Herkimer Drip or an espresso and get ready to enjoy one of the most well balanced cups you’ve ever had. Colombia CityTin UmbrellaDirectionsOrder Coffee
Tin Umbrella is a charming cafe in south Seattle’s Colombia City neighborhood. Roasting their own unique blends onsite, Tin Umbrella has united Seattle’s most diverse community over a cup. Joya Iverson, Tin Umbrella’s owner was a globe trotting consultant who has found her passion in serving her neighborhood.