Trippy Seattle - Coffee Culture

There are a ridiculous number of cafes in Seattle, and coffee culture is well-established here, too. So to even try to offer a respectable hitlist of great cafes would be an everlasting (and potentially dangerous) chore. Nevertheless, I'll throw you a bone since I've been to so many I've lost count... and you're supposedly a silly tourist who's not posing as a local looking for dirt. Ahem.

Herewith is a modest tossing out of a small sampling of cafes, then, virtually all with long-established reputations while not looking cookie-cutter: Cafe Trabant (University), Fremont Coffee House (Fremont), Cafe Umbria (Pioneer Square), Le Panier (Downtown/Pike's Public Market), Espresso Vivace (Capitol Hill/Broadway), Cafe Besalu (Ballard). Even Portland's acclaimed Stumptown Cafe has an outpost in Seattle (on Capitol Hill as well). You won't be sorry at any of them - or you shouldn't be, anyway. Now don't get all snobby on me.

Of course, that's hardly scraping the surface. Really. What you really need to do is get out on your own feet and go on walkabout in the outbacks of Seattle if you don't believe me. For example, in Ballard you can try a tiny place like Cafe Bambino, The Java Bean (if you can't get into Cafe Besalu and want to take your French pastry elsewhere), Cafe Verite (which shares its space with Cupcake Royale of high-end cupcake plaudits) or a similar hole-in-the-wall. Such gems can be found in just about every (especially inner) neighborhood. There's probably a jewel of a cafe somewhere near you if you merely look (and not that hard at that, most likely). Some offer live music, book readings, etc., and you can get your joe on from latte to frappuccino. But the real test is to man up in a way Sarah Palin could never imagine, downing espresso shots single or doppio - or even americano.

While I'm on this richly caffeinated vein (and I really should be using a rubber strap and an IV drip by now), it's also worth noting that most of the local chains are quite good. Often they are exceptionally so. Among the ones that stand out are Caffe Ladro (which gets its "thief" name from) Uptown Espresso, Diva Espresso, Third Place Books. There are there who swear by the giants like Starbucks and Tully's, too, and I won't say that I've had any bad experiences in the emergency situations where I've found myself in one (if only for internet, which they now finally offer free as well). The short of it? Get your buzz on and roam.

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