Seattle Best Cafes
To get a good cup of coffee in Seattle you don’t have to travel far. The Capitol Hill neighborhood just east of downtown boasts some of the city’s best places to enjoy the café life and find out why Seattle is known for its coffee.
Bauhaus Books & Coffee is an easy walk from most downtown Seattle hotels. An ideal people-watching spot, Bauhaus provides ample window space and outdoor seating during warm weather. Better yet, grab a seat on the balcony overlooking the front counter and observe the Pine Street foot traffic as well as the array of customers below waiting to fuel up on espresso drinks.
True to its name, Bauhaus combines form and function to achieve quality: the drinks are consistently good, the staff efficient and the atmosphere urban.
Browse the hardcover books lining the east wall of Bauhaus. All are for sale and the collection is a varied mix of genres and topics, including encyclopedias.
Bauhaus Books & Coffee
301 E Pine St
Seattle, WA 98122-2028
Phone: (206) 625-1600
Hours: 6 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday – Friday, 8 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday (ATM inside)
At the crossroads of Denny Way and Olive Way, Coffee Messiah rewards regulars and first timers with espresso, juice and food in an eclectic, friendly little spot. A neon cross accompanied by the declaration: “Coffee Saves!” adorns the front window at Coffee Messiah so please don’t forget your sense of humor. The interior offers more of the same outsider décor.
The coffee drinks are strong and the food, from dessert to a small breakfast and lunch menu, is mostly vegan (no animal products). But the amiable staff will guide you through the choices, make recommendations and even strike up a conversation beyond the usual pleasantries.
Feeling brave? Scan the events calendar at Coffee Messiah and come back in the evening for live music, poetry readings and cabaret performances. Not so brave? Then at least drop a quarter into the Disco Restroom.
1554 E Olive Way
Seattle, WA 98102-5510
Phone: (206) 861-8233
Hours: 6 a.m – 10 p.m. Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday, Breakfast served 7 a.m – 1 p.m. Friday – Sunday only
Espresso Vivace Roasteria sits just off Broadway, the main drag through Capitol Hill. Beyond the unassuming door at the side of the building are crafted the most attractive lattes and cappuccinos in Seattle. “Una bella tazza di caffe” is the Vivace motto. It translates roughly from the Italian into “a beautiful cup of coffee” and they mean it. This is no average cup of joe.
At Vivace the seating, décor and ambience play polite chorus to the virtuoso performances of the espresso, loose-leaf teas and fresh lemonade. This is the café to take mom and dad to. It’s caffeine with class. If proof is required, turn around before placing your order and see photos of the marbled foam swirls executed by the Vivace servers.
Want to relive that romantic moment you had when that first Vivace sip touched your lips? A few blocks north on Broadway is a Vivace to-go cart where you can get one for your baby and one more for the road.
Espresso Vivace Roasteria
901 East Denny Way
Seattle, WA 98122
Phone: (206) 860-5869
Hours: 6:30 a.m. – 11 p.m., 7 days a week
Espresso Vivace Sidewalk Bar
321 Broadway Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98102
Deep in the residential wilds of Capitol Hill is 15th Street, a final stretch of commerce before the eastern slope of the Hill descends toward Lake Washington. At the south end of 15th is Insomniax, a relatively new addition to the coffee shop business. The charm of Insomniax is in the ultra-casual feel of the place. Stuck in the bottom corner of a medical building, Insomniax has nothing to prove. There is no theme, no hipster vibe or European flair. This means that the staff at Insomniax can concentrate on good service and better coffee.
Order a plain old latte at Insomniax and the barista will welcome you as if you were a seasoned regular. The clientele represents a true cross-section of Capitol Hill’s population and the seating areas afford an easy view of the surrounding neighborhood. Locals are just as likely to be chatting up one another as they are to sit quietly and use the provided wireless internet service to check e-mail and surf the web on their laptops.
Insomniax Coffee & Juice
102 15th Avenue East
Seattle, Washington 98112
Phone: (206) 322-6477
Hours: 6.30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. 7 days a week.
Contributing Editor: Kris Kendall – Seattle, Washington