Coffee Art + Chocolate + Music = Happiness

Day 1 of Seattle’s 5 Best Caffes…

The most coffee I drink in a day is one cup. Aside from late-night, college paper-writing pounding sessions, and cappuccino blizzards, coffee just hasn’t been on my list of priorities. I often wonder why??? I’m from Seattle, everyone around me guzzles it, and yeah, aside from the slight perspiration it induces, I enjoy the smell, taste and energy of coffee. Its appeal is kind of like wine to me; I really appreciate coffee expertise. To make a long story short, I found myself examining the Seattle caffe scene, and I created a mission for myself—to visit 5 of Seattle’s best coffeehouses in 2 days. By doing this, not only would I get a chance to get to know Seattle’s prestigious coffee scene, I might also figure out just why coffee and I aren’t better friends.

1. Victrola – 411 15th Avenue in Capital Hill.

A victrola is an antique record player.

A victrola is an antique record player.

Exotic coffee blends offered at Victrola.

Victrola's signature and exotic coffee blends.

I began my two-day coffee binge in Capital Hill at Victrola coffee house. I had read online about the in-house, coffee-art competition that Victrola had held in mid-August, and saw all of the great pictures of the latte art that baristas from around the area had created. So, when I got to the counter, I made sure to order something that would look pretty. As the time came for Marcie to embellish my hazelnut latte, nerves were up. I was waiting with a camera around my neck to snap a photo, but when the moment arrived for her to do her magic I had to look away…

“Okay. It’s ready,” I finally heard her say. When I turned around, there waiting for me in a big, white mug was a beautiful latte masterpiece.

Way to go, Marcie!

Way to go, Marcie!

For food I had The Dillinger sandwich, toasted with prosciutto, provolone, greens and tomato. It was pretty good, but I do always loathe paying more than the Subway $5 for a sandwich. In addition to a bunch of coffee drinks, Victrola also sells beer, featuring Hale’s Mongoose IPA and Pike’s Naughty Nellie Golden Ale, both of which are brewed locally.

This 15th Ave caffe was full of kindly hipsters.

This 15th Ave caffe was full of kindly hipsters.

2. Caffe Vita – 1005 E Pike St.

Caffe Vita

Caffe Vita

John helped me out at Caffé Vita and hooked me up with a Macchiato. A Macchiato is an Italian-inspired drink, and is a shot of espresso stopped a bit early so what you drink is the smoothest and sweetest of the brew. Then an ounce of steamed milk and foam is added and walla! The word Macchiato is Italian meaning “to mark.”

Served with a tiny cup, spoon, and saucer, this Macchiato was once almost as beautiful as my hazelnut latte from Victrola. However, I thought this marketing idea was pretty cool.

Served with a tiny cup, spoon, and saucer, this Macchiato was once almost as beautiful as my hazelnut latte from Victrola. However, I thought this marketing idea was pretty cool.

The café was very dark on the first floor. Dark wood paneling lined the floors and ceilings, and vibrant, colorful paintings stood out along the painted black walls

The café was very dark on the first floor. Dark wood paneling lined the floors and ceilings, and vibrant, colorful paintings stood out along the painted black walls.

They have a great upstairs study area overlooking popular Pike St. on Capital Hill. This is one of the best places to go in Seattle if you need to get work done. It was like a miniature library up here!

They have a great upstairs study area overlooking popular Pike St. on Capital Hill. This is one of the best places to go in Seattle if you need to get work done. It was like a miniature library up here!

Although the Macchiato was great, the main reason I came to Caffe Vita was because, like so many others, I’d heard of a delicious new partnership that has emerged this year between two of Seattle’s best roasters: Chocolate + Coffee = Happiness. It’s the talk of the town—1st Friday morning coffee and chocolate pairings sponsored by Caffé Vita and Theo’s Chocolate; even the NYTimes has mentioned it. This free cupping and tasting event is held at Caffe Vita and gives the public a chance to sample specialty coffees from around the globe, paired with the perfect chocolate liquors made from roasted exotic cacao seeds. You can read more about it at: www.taleoftworoasters.com.

Theo’s Chocolate has been featured in magazines all across the country for their delicious chocolate; however, I noticed that they were also mentioned in this week’s edition of The Stranger for hosting Jane Goodall as she promotes her new book about bringing animals back from extinction. That’s pretty amazing for a chocolate shop if you ask me!

3. The “Original” Starbucks at Pike Place Market.

Market performers in front of Starbucks. Check out his silver cello!

Market performers in front of Starbucks. Check out the silver cello!

My last stop of Day 1 was at the most popular Starbucks in the world–the Pike Place Market Starbucks. I didn’t go into this caffe because, c’mon, by now we all know that Starbucks is really cool. This Starbucks is well-known for being the original, numero uno Starbucks; however, recently I heard a rumor that this isn’t entirely true. The original is said to have been built across town in a different Seattle location, but then burnt down shortly after. So that means that this is actually Starbucks #2, and though is may be the oldest, it’s not the original.

Thankfully, there are more reasons to check this place out. One is because it’s the only spot that still uses the original two-tailed mermaid as its logo. And another is because of the great music found here. Whether it be a 5-part a capella group, or a 3-piece band, rain-or-shine there’s always one of the Market’s best musical acts drawing a crowd around this Starbucks’ front doorstep. You can walk to the Original Starbuck’s from most Seattle boutique hotels.

That’s it for day 1! Stay tuned next week when I review 2 more caffes in North Seattle!

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