Life is a Highway...
Quite literally it was, for plenty of days. A few years ago my brother and I loaded up his tiny Fiat and drove straight up to Vancouver, from the opposite end of the U.S., stopping a few times in between. One of those stops was Seattle, for a day. It was really fun.
Load up and Hit the Road
This origin story of this trip is a little funny, I suggested something similar out of the blue while he was giving me a ride somewhere. Turns out he thought I was being serious and we got permission to go. The first thing I thought of was that we would need to stop in Santa Cruz to visit Cat & Cloud in person, just me being me. We did, for a little, also got some burgers, gas, and got on the highway again.
Since it took two full days of driving, to and back, there wasn't much time to tourist in between. On those driving days it seemed so far in the future the idea of destination, as different cities would appear on the green signs with 300, 200, then 100 next to them. Hours in between. Driving for so long you sort of lose any sense of urgency in commuting. A drive across the city doesn't seem as long as driving across the country. The only thing making it longer than it should be is traffic.
Drive talk aside, there is nothing like getting to know a state's scenery by driving right through it. Hundreds of two-lane miles surrounded by green all around followed by congested five-lanes entering cities. Sometimes snow, other times rain, a few times fog. Driving really shows you the state as a whole. I can confidently state I've seen what California, Oregon, and Washington look like now.
The Seattle coffee scene is as well known as there are coffee shops around the country. Props to Starbucks. It was truly an interesting experience being able to go to many of them.
One of the cafes I was most excited to visit was the La Marzocco Cafe at the KEXP Studios. Sine they rotate the roaster-in-residence there's a new flavor each month. I got to visit while Onyx Coffee Lab was in town and it was a treat. What I liked the most about the place, apart from the coffee, is the bar design. I loved the placement of the bar, it seems like it's in the middle of a showroom, where you can walk all around it. The space is huge, with plenty of tables for seating and couches were behind me in the picture above looking out at KeyArena. The highlight of the La Marzocco Cafe, for me, is it's location. It is brilliantly located on a corner of the Seattle Center, where the Space Needle is also located. Any way you look at it, the La Marzocco Cafe is a must go if you're in the area and I'm sure it's a delight for the locals.
If there weren't enough Starbucks stores around, here's a big one. The Starbucks Reserve roastery is Starbucks' attempt to crack directly into specialty coffee with higher quality coffee's and equipment, and all the rest as you can see above. It's insane. First and foremost, the coffee tastes the same. It did for me. Also on this trip my brother and I visited the first ever Starbucks store at Pike Place, and I ordered the same thing I did here, and lo and behold, they tasted the same. Whether it's a matter of branding or perception, it's working. Starbucks has the money, and they're generally a nice company, so why not give it a crack. Thousands of people walk through the door, drink coffee, buy the merchandise, take pictures, and walk around. All those things I did myself, visiting a Reserve store is an experience. It's like Willy Wonka's Coffee Factory.
Here's something a little more homey. Elm Coffee Roasters, on Pioneer Square just north of Century Link Field. I ran over here after having gone to Cherry Street Public House for an espresso. I've always followed Elm on Instagram, and since day 1 I've wanted to visit. They're a brand I've always been a fan of, it's places like these I like to visit the most. I drank an espresso here, and sat right where you see me take the picture at one of the tables. It was quiet inside. There were a few people enjoying coffee together to the right of where I was sitting, and further down is their roaster just behind a counter. It's a nice scene, serene you can call it. If I was a Seattle local I would frequent here.
Here's Cherry Street, right on the edge of Occidental Square. Carrying Counter Culture Coffee I drank an espresso here just before running over to Elm a few blocks down. I got to see a first place USBC trophy in here, which was a sight to see. I haven't seen another 1st place trophy up close, before or since.
I've got a few more cafes I visited on the archives, but I'll keep this post somewhat short. I'll show the other cafes at some other time. For the meantime, I'll keep them saved for another post if we're still craving for cafe visits in the future. A part 2 isn't out of the question, so stay tuned.