Wednesday, September 29, is National Coffee Day, and we happen to live in one of the best places in the world to celebrate. It's no surprise that coffee is one of the hallmarks of Seattle—our city is renowned the world over for its java and packed with a staggering number of caffeination stations per capita. We've rounded up this list of 20 local coffee shops well worth your time, from Hood Famous Cafe + Bar to Boon Boona Coffee, so you can ditch the ubiquitous green mermaid once and for all. For more ideas, check out our food and drink guide.
The Stranger's Rich Smith wrote in 2018, "I come for the cups. The colored cups. They're beautiful. Others come to sit on the couches and read stacks of contemporary art comix piled up on the coffee table. Still others come to sit outside with a 12-ounce drip of Herkimer Coffee and watch the people wander down Summit Avenue on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The service is warm and casual, and the staff is always listening to music that's much more interesting than the kind you have at home. If you're hungry, head around the corner to their cafe B-Side Foods. The toast is fucking delicious."
This award-winning, Duvall-based roaster is known for its cold brew drinks and trademark "quaffles" (a house-made croissant cinnamon roll waffle). Former Stranger writer Lester Black wrote in 2019, "Everything is tasty here. The lattes are as good as anywhere in Seattle. The espresso is excellent, especially on the house's Leviathan Blend. And at the center of Anchorhead's bar sits the Poursteady, a $12,500 pour-over coffee robot that perfectly executes your next single-origin, natural-washed roast." The local chain also plans to open a location in the former Stumptown Coffee space on 12th Avenue this winter, with a bakery serving pastries, sausage-fennel scones, bacon biscuits, and cardamom buns.
Downtown, Pike Place, Bellevue
Black Coffee Northwest
This community-focused, Black-owned cafe and nonprofit "grounded in excellence" emphasizes social justice, with a barista training program, a weekly youth outreach program, after-school study hours, Zoom "coffee chat" conversations on important topics, coat drives, voter registration drives, and more. The shop serves Ethiopian, Burundi, and Kenyan roasts from the Black-owned Renton business Boon Boona, donuts from the Lynnwood-based Zuri's Donutz, pastries from Salmonberry Goods, and sweet potato pie made by co-owner DarNesha Weary's mother.
Boon Boona Coffee
Owned by Efrem Fesaha, who was born in Ethiopia and raised in Seattle, this popular coffee shop and roaster exclusively sources its beans from African growers. The cafe quickly gained a loyal following after launching its first location in Renton in 2018 and expanded with an outpost on Capitol Hill last spring.
Capitol Hill, Renton
The Stranger's Chase Burns wrote in 2018, "This April, Cafe Argento celebrates 14 years as a linchpin in Capitol Hill's 12th Avenue community, with its success owed to owner/local saint Faizel Khan and the Velocity Dance performers he keeps hiring. If you come into Argento more than once, odds are Faizel will remember your name, your order, and offer you some quirky-good advice. (He suggested my boyfriend get Botox for his 32nd birthday, which continues to make me cackle to this day.) Also, the food is cheap and savory. I'd like to eat their jalapeño cheddar bagel every day until I die."
The Vietnamese-American-owned and -operated cafe is the first of its kind in Seattle and serves Vietnamese-inspired drinks like "Coffeeholic Dream," coconut coffee, bac xiu (Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk), and honey lattes, all made with organic, freshly roasted robusta and arabica beans from Brooklyn-based importer and roaster Nguyen Coffee Supply. The business also aims to join the eco-friendly movement by eliminating plastic waste and lowering its carbon footprint.
Elm Coffee Roasters
Lester Black wrote, "Elm Coffee Roasters has quickly established itself as one of the city's best purveyors of delicately roasted beans since they opened their Pioneer Square shop in 2013. Try their Ethiopia Tabe Burka, a roast that's full of subtle fruit notes like lime and pineapple, or enjoy the dark chocolate notes of their Colombia Maria del Rosario. Both of Elm's cafes are elegantly designed with lots of natural light and stylish understated notes, and you'll likely find earnest conversations between architects and interior designers happening inside."
Pioneer Square, South Lake Union
Former Stranger writer Sydney Brownstone wrote in 2018, "Throughout much of Western Europe, the way to consume coffee is through a quick shot or several sips of espresso—just enough to enjoy the flavor and get the caffeine without loading the body with unnecessary water, cream, and sugar. I always thought of this as snobbery (I am a proud American), until I tried Vivace's Northern Italian-style espresso. Any Vivace drink with espresso is strong, but without the acrid bitterness typically associated with an espresso shot. Even better, the Broadway spot eschews the pretentiousness of other Capitol Hill coffee shops, and even has a quiet room in the back that welcomes gig economy workers. There, you can savor a revelatory latte and still chow down on an Oreo covered in chocolate, American-style."
Capitol Hill, South Lake Union
Pho Bac co-owner Yenvy Pham runs this Vietnamese coffee shop and roastery in Chinatown-International District's Little Saigon. Located inside the Friends of Little Saigon Creative space, the shop serves cà phê sữa đá (traditional Vietnamese iced coffee) made with espresso and is also the first Vietnamese roastery in Seattle. You can add a whipped egg coffee cloud made with egg whites and sweetened condensed milk to any drink. To eat, there's "banh-mi-nini" (panini-grilled banh mi sandwiches), with breakfast sandwich, tofu, and hot dog varieties, and baked goods like Chinese doughnuts and durian crepe cakes.
Hood Famous Cafe + Bar
After making a name for themselves with their signature brilliant purple ube cheesecake and opening their debut Ballard bakeshop (which is currently closed to the public and being used as a commissary kitchen) in 2016, married couple Chera Amlag and Geo Quibuyen launched this cafe and bar in Chinatown in 2019, serving Filipinx-inspired coffee drinks like ube and pandan lattes alongside baked goods, craft cocktails, and a merienda-themed savory menu with bites like longanisa quiche and corned beef pan de sal. The cafe is the only coffee shop in the region to exclusively feature beans from the Asia-Pacific region.
Pickup, delivery, dine-in
Kaffa Coffee and Wine Bar
As the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia has developed a daily ritual around the brew that lasts a couple of hours and honors the process, from roasting the beans to steeping to sipping. (According to legend, coffee was first discovered by a goatherd named Kaldi, who noticed his flock seemed to dance with energy after getting hopped up on the red berries of a shrub, and decided to try them himself.) This treasured Ethiopian cafe and restaurant serves excellent single-origin roasts and will perform the traditional coffee ceremony upon advance request. There's also a fantastic menu of Ethiopian food, including injera rolls, ful (mashed fava beans), and wots (stews).
Pickup, delivery, dine-in
This friendly, pint-sized White Center shop serves delicious flavored drinks like butterscotch lattes and cold brew mochas with creamy chocolate milk from Lyndon-based Twinbrook Creamery and uses beans from Olympia Coffee Roasting.
Owner Bao Nguyen's beautiful, light-filled Vietnamese coffee shop in Chinatown-International District's Little Saigon area invites patrons to slow down and take a pause in their day. The menu focuses on classic phin-brewed Vietnamese coffee rather than espresso, with thoughtful ingredients like homemade condensed milk. Other offerings include chewy-crisp pandan waffles, flan with coffee shaved ice topping, salted sodas, tea, and Vietnamese yogurt.
Porchlight Coffee & Records
Rich Smith wrote, "Unlike the rest of us losers, owner Zack Bolotin did the thing we all said we'd do in high school—opened up a cool coffee shop that sells records. The vinyl selection is modest but well-curated, and it's especially good for those who still read Pitchfork. Otherwise, the shop is a fastidiously clean, well-lit purveyor of Herkimer Coffee (the best), Mighty-O Donuts (why not?), and bagels all stacked up like a tower. Whatever you do, don't ask Bolotin about baseball, or else you'll never get out of there."
Preserve & Gather
Past Stranger writer Angela Garbes wrote, "With just its name, Greenwood's Preserve and Gather makes its intentions clear. There's no wi-fi here; gathering goes better without it. In the morning, there's a rotating selection of freshly baked pastries (both sweet and savory), as well as house-made yogurt and toast topped with homemade fruit preserves such as chai tea pear butter and rhubarb orange jam. The bread is baked in cast-iron pans by esteemed Sea Wolf Bakers, who also supply the bread for all of award-winning chef Renee Erickson's restaurants. In the afternoon, there are savory toasts, salads, and platters of meats, cheeses, and pickles. Ricotta toast ($4) is a satisfying snack: enormous slices of chewy, crumby bread cut into triangles and slathered with fresh, almost runny, ricotta. The mild cheese has a lovely quivering texture that exists somewhere between liquid and cream. Local wildflower honey, artfully drizzled on in a diagonal pattern, adds a complex sweetness. In the late afternoon, large batches of Preserve and Gather's pickles are made, and the air in the cafe grows astringent from all the vinegar being brought to a boil. It's bracing but also thrilling—an inescapable reminder of the reality of taking the time to make things by hand."
Using the Vietnamese phin brewing method, this U-District coffee and tea spot offers all sorts of fruit teas and iced coffees, plus various Vietnamese sweets like boba lava cake.
Pickup, delivery, dine-in
This coffee shop and wine bar owned by married couple Luis Rodriguez and Leona Moore-Rodriguez is a beloved Beacon Hill community hub and gathering place, known for its joyful annual neighborhood-wide block party celebrating POC and queer artists. In addition to cozy signature drinks like the Mexican hot chocolate mocha, the "D'Angelo" brown sugar latte, and the "Bowl of Soul" (Earl Grey tea with honey, vanilla, and steamed milk), the menu also features tasty sandwiches, cookies, and snacks.
This modern, minimalist Central District coffee shop was taken over by owner Geetu Vailoor in 2020 and offers natural wine as well as coffee and pastries. Vailoor aims to resist the narrative of gentrification in the neighborhood and provide an inclusive, unpretentious community space, hosting pop-ups and offering coffee education programs. You'll find specialty drinks like chaga cinnamon lattes, rose cardamom lattes, and masala chai on the menu, as well as coffee from roasters like Looking Homeward, Onyx, Lüna, and Olympia.
Pickup, patio seating
Chase Burns wrote, "Vif is a glass jewel box at the top of the hill on Fremont Avenue. It's a tiny, square cafe, but the wall-to-wall windows flood it with light. Catching an afternoon sunbreak in Vif during the middle of winter can be downright religious. If you want to feel precious, order their brew made from Olympia Coffee Roasting's beans, flip through the design mags, and listen to the rich people next to you whisper about their problems. You'll giggle. Vif also makes a great quiche."
Stranger contributor Jordan Michelman wrote, "This a specialty coffee shop (with Anchorhead as house roaster) that serves both an exemplary chocolate orange mocha and drip coffee alongside profoundly satisfying dishes like cereal-crusted french toast, hand-cut french fries with housemade gochujang, churros dusted in black sesame, fried chicken and waffles, a KBBQ pork plate, and habit-forming fried and battered 'Chicken Chonks' tossed in honey butter. A place that serves decent coffee with great food, or vice versa, isn’t necessarily hard to find; a place that serves a demonstrably great offering of both coffee and food is a balancing act of the highest order, and rare as hen’s teeth. It is enormously hard to pull off both food and coffee quality and maintain this level consistently, and Watson’s Counter does one of the best versions of it I’ve found in the Pacific Northwest."
Pickup, delivery, dine-in