From Community to Creativity, Seattle Thinks Outside the Coffee Cup

Photo source: Drip City Coffee

The Emerald City has earned its reputation as our nation’s coffee capital. While you’ll find no shortage of run-of-the-mill Starbucks locations (including the original brick and mortar), it can be slightly more challenging to navigate the highly saturated neighborhood coffee shop scene. It’s even harder to decide where to go for your morning joe when there are so many perfect brews out there.

So when a shop can offer quality and a certain je ne sais quoi, you know it’s truly special. These picks are well worth the trip for their dedication to the Seattle community and the creative traditions behind each cup.

Drip City Coffee | 2929 1st Ave | 206-778-3729

Behind Drip City’s menu of handcrafted espresso drinks and small bites from local purveyors, a strong commitment to the surrounding Belltown neighborhood and greater Seattle area inspires everything from behind-the-scenes processes to service at the register and coffee bar. The shop regularly hosts or participates in community events, supports local nonprofits (the team recently donated coffee for a volunteer training session at New Horizons homeless youth center), and reps the Emerald City (they welcomed Underoath with coffee on the band’s Seattle tour stop).

In early October, Drip City was one of only three Seattle coffee shops to pair up with Netflix for a themed pop-up promoting the 2016 “Gilmore Girls” revival. The shop was transformed into a mini replica of Luke’s Diner and served up free drip coffee for 250 lucky customers. Just as the diner was a favorite Stars Hollow hub for good coffee and neighborly mingling, Drip City aims to serve as an inviting stop where locals and visitors can convene to try something new or enjoy a daily favorite.

Drop by for a friendly caffeine fix and look for the signed Super Bowl champion plaque hanging among local art. How did it get there, you ask? Former Seahawk Sidney Rice owns Drip City, and on some days, you might even spot him dropping in to sling espresso and greet customers!

La Marzocco Café | 472 1st Ave N | 206-388-3500

It comes as no surprise that legendary Florentine espresso machine giant La Marzocco has planted its stateside roots in Seattle. In addition to the Ballard headquarters, our city is home to the one and only U.S. La Marzocco Café and Showroom. There are so many reasons why this location is truly unique. For one, it lives inside the heart of the KEXP station in Seattle Center, making it a key community player at many station events. While you’re gawking at the DJ studio from the communal seating area and listening to the live broadcast, you can also sample an unprecedented variety of rotating specialty coffees and learn about the spotlighted roasters behind them. This is a can’t-miss Seattle coffee destination for visitors and longtime residents alike.

Petra Cafe | 1933 7th Ave | 206-448-2604

At Petra Bistro’s casual Westlake cafe location, you’ll find your favorite hot and cold drinks featuring Caffe Vita espresso… but you’ll also find something a bit more exclusive: traditional Turkish coffee. Fresh, finely ground beans are simmered in a special copper pot called a cezve, resulting in a rich coffee flavor that is the perfect accompaniment for your Mediterranean salad, gyro, falafel, or Petra Lunch Bowl. Make sure to take a peek at the grounds settled at the bottom of your empty cup -- they are sometimes used for fortune-telling, and the image they create may have something to say about what lies ahead in your future!

Shug's Soda Fountain & Ice Cream | 1525 1st Ave | 206-602-6420

Just outside of Pike Place Market, Shug’s is a one-of-a-kind Seattle gem that draws bustling downtown crowds into its storefront with the promise of 1950s soda fountain charm and the scent of fresh waffle cones. Give in to the allure and you’ll find a list of bespoke sundaes, shakes, sodas made with housemade syrups, floats, boozy creations and, of course, espresso (courtesy of local roaster Caffe Fiore). The standout coffee-centric novelty is the affogato, which features a freshly pulled espresso shot primed for pouring over chocolate ice cream topped with whipped cream. You can also add housemade coffee syrup to a soda float or check out the daily Lopez Island Creamery flavors behind the counter (look for the coffee flavor for a cold and creamy treat!).