Seattle coffeehouses hold a special place in my heart, and I’m not alone. Much has been written about how the green mermaid wrapped her arms around the world from this Emerald City, but not so much has been said about the influence of Seattle’s independent cafe culture. I’m nowhere near able to write the definitive version; still, David Schomer of Espresso Vivace was one of my first/best influences as a young barista, and no visit to Seattle is complete for me without multiple visits to his shops.
Look at that. Take in that flawless surface, the milk and espresso melding in perfection. This, friends, is a macchiato. This, friends, puts most of the thousands of espresso drinks I’ve downed in the shadows. This, friends, is why I haven’t been ordering cappuccinos lately in my home city of Portland. Because I’ve never tasted a milk/espresso beverage made to this level of beauty anywhere other than Espresso Vivace.
At Analog Coffee in Capitol Hill, I had a delicious shot of Herkimer Coffee, and thoroughly enjoyed photographing the space. The classic “Seattle-style” espresso is giving way to newcomers like Slate (below) but every time I drink a shot like this I immediately think about moving here. Rich, syrupy, viscous, earthy and sweet at once, its makes me remember why I fell in love with espresso in the first place.
The last shop I want to mention here is Victrola Coffee, the Capitol Hill location of which was an easy walk from the Convention Center where I attended SCAA last weekend. So busy was I trying to capture the elusive charm of barista Mark’s workflow and face that I only remember my shot being rather ristretto and rather tasty, so I know I’ll have to come back for a more studied impression another time. Regardless, Victrola represents another gritty, classic Seattle shop that is hugely attractive to me.
Not everyone likes this style of coffeehouse–in fact, that’s the whole point of the 3rd wave movement–but I do, and I’ll never be afraid to claim my allegiance to a more classic Italian style of extraction, presented with grace and a complete lack of self-consciousness that is refreshing to this sometimes-weary coffee drinker.