March 21, 2012
About a week ago, Amber surprised me for my birthday by booking a trip for us to fly out to Seattle for the weekend. She set it up so that while we were there, Mark Barany, head roaster at Kuma Coffee would pick me up to Saturday morning hitting up great coffee joints all over Seattle.
It was my first time doing a “coffee crawl,” and it was a fantastic experience. I got to visit some beautiful shops, taste expertly prepared Espresso, and learn some great stuff from Mark all the while. I also learned about soda water, and that you can get sick if you drink too much coffee – something I never wanted to admit. Here are some highlights:
Stop 1: We started the day off at Milstead & Co., a beautifully designed shop in Fremont. Andrew was working the bar, and served us a shot of Coava’s Benjamin Miranda Honduras that he’d been tweaking on his machine. I was a bit confused when I was handed a glass of soda water and a spoon, and I felt naive asking what to do with it. Turns out you use it to cleanse your palate between sips, so you can get the full taste with each drink. Good to know.
The bar at Milstead & Co. is the prettiest I’ve come across. Different types and shades of wood adorn the sides and front, and the entire shop has a clean, modern, yet rustic feel to it. A great first stop – I’m not sure a visit to Seattle would be complete without a stop at Milstead – at least for a coffee or tea lover.
Stop 2: Kuma on Stoneway is a small shop tucked away in a seemingly quiet neighborhood. It was a bit surreal approaching the shop. I had done some research on it while I was doing the Kuma mug doodle, so it was neat to actually visit the shop. Mark spent time talking to the barista, making suggestions, and eventually, we ended up with the smoothest, fruitiest shot of espresso I’ve ever had. Quite nice. A bit cozy and crowded, but homey.
Stop 3: Trabant is a two-story shop located in the U Disctrict. Trabant has a lot of stainless steel and piping, if I remember right, and it makes for a great grunge effect. We had good conversation at the bar with Lorrie, and I had my first taste of 49th Parallel – a great macchiato using their Epic. Ask Mark about the special souvenirs they hand out there.
Stop 4: I loved the look and feel of the Victrola shop and roastery, but was completely underwhelmed with the espresso I was served. A really beautiful shop with a lot of natural light pouring in through the front. It’s nice to be able to sip your coffee and gaze in at the Roasting Room near the back. I’d like to return for a second experience to let them redeem the espresso I tried. Really a pretty shop and a nice roasting area.
Stop 5: I don’t think my coffee crawl in Seattle would have been anywhere near complete without a visit to the Stumptown Roastery. In all honesty, this was the most complete, enjoyable coffee stop. The design throughout the entire shop is simple, full of wood, and creates a comfortable atmosphere without being overly cozy. I ordered a chemex and walked around with Mark. One of the cool things about this location is the openness of the roastery.
After we grabbed our drinks, we walked downstairs to see where all the roasting magic happened. It was a great atmosphere to drink coffee in, and hearing Mark talk about all the origins and some of the farmers he recognized on the burlap sacks Stumptown had in storage really brought the entire experience full circle.
Final Stop: On the way to our last stop, we both hit a wall. At this point, I couldn’t even think of drinking more coffee, which is unfortunate, because our final stop was to Empire Espresso. The gang at Empire served me a waffle rather than espresso and had to painfully listen to me try to describe our morning – I wasn’t very coherent and had a hard time remembering. Such great people work at Empire, and I think they have massive potential. the individual care and connection they have with their customers is almost unheard of.
I want to thank Mark for taking the time to take me around Seattle. I learned a ton, and got to experience first hand some of the coffee culture I’ve been trying to connect with through my doodles. Can’t wait to go back.
A Handsome wannabe?