The Seattle Coffee Shop Scene (Part 1)

Updated: Jun 19

Hello my fellow Seattleites and coffee lovers everywhere. Cute coffee shops have always been my hobby and I often joke that I need an app entitled, “What Coffee Shop is Becca at today?” So after the encouragement of many friends to compile all of my coffee shop knowledge in one place, here lies part 1 with more editions to come. So let me know what other coffee shops you want to see me review!


Review Criteria:


Ambiance

  • Is it a mellow spot for reading or studying? Or a bustling spot for your on-the-go coffee run?

Parking situation

  • Does the stress of parking make this place not worth it?

Space

  • Is it large enough to have tables when you want to work for several hours?

Coffee flavor

  • I’ll be up-front and say that I am not a Chemex black coffee connoisseur but I do know a good vanilla latte so I'll rank all of these coffee shops by their iced vanilla latte unless otherwise noted.

Extra notes specific to each shop

  • Is it too pretentious to even have vanilla lattes? Does it spark joy, fellow Marie Kondo fans? Does it have WIFI? Surprisingly still needs to be asked in 2019.


1. Union Coffee | Seattle (Madrona)

Ambiance

  • Alright all you Seattle hipsters, I have found your spot! As soon as you walk into this little coffee shop, you feel as if you’re walking into someone’s minimalist living room complete with a record turn table, stark white walls, and a few green plants to add some color. It’s quite the intimate space with gorgeous natural light streaming in from the floor to ceiling windows. It’s biggest selling point – the upstairs loft seating area. Hello prime people watching views!

Parking

  • Located in the Madrona neighborhood outside of downtown Seattle, this coffee shop is in a residential area, making the street parking feel a little less daunting than it would be downtown.

Space

  • Seating is very limited in the main downstairs area but there is a lot more upstairs and it never got very busy in the couple of hours I was there so it doesn’t seem like it would be an issue to find a seat and hunker down for a bit.

Coffee Flavor

  • On a scale of 1 – 10, I would give the coffee flavor a solid 6 here.

Extra Notes

  • The biggest and really only negative aspect about this coffee shop is that they close at 3:30pm every day.

  • They have molly moon’s ice cream affogatos!

2. Evoke Coffee | Seattle (South Lake Union)

Ambiance

  • For all you ‘grammers out there looking for your next cute coffee shop pic, this place is famous for their “But First, Coffee” wall.

  • This coffee shop is the epitome of minimalism: black and white décor, funky light fixtures, and dogs. You read that right- the shop has two dogs who call the shop home. And with Amazon just a few blocks away, the pet friendly environment brings all the furry friends. At first, I was thinking this was kind of cute but then my allergies kicked in and I proceeded to sneeze for the next few hours as I worked. If you’re an animal lover without allergies though, this is the spot for you!

  • My least favorite thing about the ambiance was the interesting ceiling design. It seems that in attempt to contrast the trend of the exposed ceiling, the plumbing has been covered with some sort of black tarp. I started to feel as if I was in a construction zone with black garbage bags on the ceiling and the rough/rugged cement floors.

Parking

  • It’s South Lake Union so traffic and street parking is nothing new here.

Space

  • A good amount of seating with tables, bar stool style, couches, and a large dining room table.

Coffee Flavor

  • My usual iced vanilla latte was delicious! Not too sweet and definitely hit the spot giving it a 9 out of 10.

Extra notes

  • Evoke is right in the hub of Amazonians (Amazon workers), so there was lots of traffic but most everyone took their order to go so I had no problem setting up camp for a few hours and not feeling bad about taking up a table.

  • I felt like this was a one-time visit for me. Got my cute picture, pet the shop dogs (and later regretted that because of allergies), but the location and overall ambiance didn’t have me declaring this as a spot worth repeating.


3. Storyville | Seattle (Downtown)

The location of this hidden gem plus the amazing coffee flavor makes Storyville Coffee one of my absolute favorite coffee shops in the Seattle area. Trust me when I say, you won’t be disappointed! Storyville is located up a couple of floors in the building just kitty corner from the iconic Public Market Sign so people often miss it.


Ambiance

  • With it’s cozy loft-like feel, Storyville overlooks Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market and you just can’t compete with the view. The fireplace is always burning and comfy seats abound.

Parking

  • Downtown Seattle is forever a nightmare when it comes to parking so be prepared to allow time for this never-ending quest and consider paying for parking at one of the many Pike Place parking garages/lots.

Space

  • The window seats here are a highly coveted spot; look down and you’ll see the hustle and bustle of the market as well as the gorgeous Puget Sound and cascade mountains across the water. Depending on what time of day you get there, space can be super limited so I suggest trying to go during off hours to get the best experience of being able to take in the view and cozy atmosphere.

Coffee Flavor

  • I try not to give out a 10/10 for coffee flavor too lightly so when I say Storyville gets a 10, that means something! Absolutely amazing.

Extra Notes

  • Pro-tip: if you hang around long enough, the baristas tend to walk around a couple of times a day with fresh, FREE, chocolate molten cakes slices for everyone.

  • Not only do they make their own delicious pastries, but Storyville also makes their own almond milk and I’ve had many friends rave about the flavor.

  • If everything I’ve mentioned hasn’t already sold you on this place, Storyville is actively promoting how your purchase helps fight against human-trafficking.

4. Cherry Street Public House | Seattle (Pioneer Square)

Ambiance

  • This lovely spot has a couple of locations and I will be focusing on the Pioneer Square location on Occidental Street here. It has the air of a quaint café with style that not only offers coffee but full on meals and alcohol, hence the name Cherry Street Public House. If you’re looking for a fun coffee shop with some more meat to it (aka real food), this is the spot for you. The large windows also open up to Pioneer Square which would be oh so fun in the summer.

Parking

  • It’s good ol’ Seattle 2-hour street parking around here so plan accordingly.

Space

  • One of the hardest things to find in a Seattle coffee shop is space but this place had an array of bistro tables, booths, and outdoor seating.

Coffee Flavor

  • The coffee felt a little weak here so I would give it a 6/10. My “for-here” mug sure was cute though so that was a plus.

Extra notes

  • Cherry Street’s style is definitely more bistro-esque than hipster Seattle coffee shop so it felt quite welcoming. And even though you can get a full meal here, there is also an abundance of folks just having a coffee meeting or working on their laptop so you fit in no matter what your agenda is. And my iced vanilla latte was not scoffed at.


5. Preserve & Gather | Seattle (Greenwood)

Ambiance

  • This quirky coffee shop has an eclectic retro vibe. Because it’s on the corner of a residential neighborhood, it seems to be the go-to spot for your morning cup of joe and reading the paper. The retro patterned wall is also quite “grammable.”

Parking

  • Though it doesn’t have a dedicated parking lot, there is an abundance of street parking if you’re willing to walk a block or two. An added bonus is that because it’s in a residential neighborhood, I didn’t need to worry about a 2-hour parking limit.

Space

  • It is a very open concept layout with large windows and light streaming through. You’ll find an array of seating options from benches to large tables and barstool seating - just not comfortable seating.

Coffee Flavor

  • My iced-vanilla latte was great, the perfect combination of sweetness to the flavor of really good coffee coming through. 8/10.

Extra notes

  • The baristas were friendly, the space was welcoming, and the smell of fresh food (the fig and brie Sammy is a must-try) wafted throughout the space. Heads up though, there is no WIFI…I repeat, no WIFI. I was quite surprised by this and a little disappointed that this couldn’t be an all day work spot. I wondered if this was an intentional choice to make this a gathering space (hence the name, Preserve & Gather?). A great idea in theory, but definitely feels like it would sway people away.

6. Zoka Coffee | Kirkland

Ambiance

  • Hello spaciousness!

  • This shop has the ultimate Seattle hipster vibes complete with Edison lights, marble tables, and a large driftwood table in the middle of the shop.

  • Large windows all around the shop allow for great natural light (and all the Seattleites said yes, let there be light).

Parking

  • Downtown Kirkland can be tricky when it comes to parking but fortunately there is a lot of street parking, you just need to time your visit and remember you have a deadline of 2 hours before time’s up on your parking spot. Does anyone else feel rushed when this is the case?

  • Pro-tip: if you park at the library parking garage just a couple blocks away, they have free 4-hour parking.

Space

  • So much seating and comfy booth seating against the walls make prime people watching spots.

Coffee Flavor

  • My usual iced vanilla latte was quite good as they make their own vanilla syrup here! Zoka is also known for their lavender mochas and lattes. I would give my vanilla latte an 8.5/10.

7. Woods Coffee | Bellevue

Ambiance

  • The ambiance is very “woodsy,” which is obviously fitting. So think driftwood tables and black matted metal chairs and you’ve got Woods Coffee. I loved the outdoor/indoor dual fireplace that makes the space even cozier.

  • Though the view is either the parking lot or the Chick-Fil-A drive thru next door, I didn’t mind too much since the coffee shop itself is so pretty and spacious.

Parking

  • So much parking! My usual stress of finding parking was finally put at ease at a place like this.

  • I didn’t even have to pay for parking or worry about validation running out.

Space

  • So spacious!

  • There is a side room that can be reserved for meetings, workshops, etc. as well as a hotel lobby just through the side doors that is used for overflow seating.

  • Large outdoor patio area.

  • Comfy chairs (I’m always trying to snag those by the fireplace) and barstool seating.

  • The space is very bright with lots of lighting/natural light and fun lighting fixtures.

Coffee flavor

  • On the sweeter side but an easy on-the-go coffee that has officially replaced Starbucks for me.

  • Rating of 8/10.

Extra Notes

  • One of the best aspects for convenience at this place is the fact that they have a drive-thru! So for all of you on the go that are wanting coffee that’s better than Starbucks, this is the answer!

8. Elm Coffee Roasters | Seattle (Pioneer Square)

Ambiance

  • The large open space, wood floors, and brick wall makes you want to settle right down for a coffee date.

Parking

  • Good luck navigating the tricky parking situation that is Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle. This gorgeous spot is worth it though so don’t despair as you circle around and allow for extra time.

Space

  • As I mentioned, there is a large amount of open space here but the seating is still minimal. I would have hoped for more seating options but you can sit right next to the roaster portion of the coffee shop which makes the experience quite unique.

  • I sure love natural lighting in coffee shops and this place was filled with it. Granted, it was a rare beautiful sunny day in Seattle but I still don’t believe this place is capable of feeling dark or gloomy.

Coffee Flavor

  • I’ve heard so many great things about the coffee here but was slightly disappointed in the lack of flavor for my sweeter tastes so I would give Elm a 6 on the flavor scale. Though you coffee connoisseurs out there may like this place even more for that reason!

9. Milstead & Co. | Seattle (Fremont)

Ambiance

  • First off, I can’t start this review without mentioning the view! This coffee shop sits below the Fremont Bridge in Seattle and therefore sets the tone for the industrial vibe of this coffee shop. You’ll find floor to ceiling windows (you can even see Mt. Rainier across the water on a clear day), concrete floors, and minimal décor. It even gives off a bit of an underground feel as the sidewalk slopes downhill outside. Located very close to Seattle Pacific University, the overall vibe of this place was very student-oriented with friendly baristas.

Parking

  • The street parking in Fremont is doable as there are lots of side streets. I found myself parking right outside the coffee shop on Troll Avenue (for those not from Seattle – there’s another great tourist spot to check out just up the road).

Space

  • I was pleasantly surprised to see how large of a space this coffee shop has. Large tables and stool seating abounds. Because there are so many college students around, this seems like the perfect spot to study for hours. There are no comfy couches though.

Coffee Flavor

  • My husband (who loves the Starbucks sugar-packed mocha) was disappointed in the bitterness he tasted in his drink though he opted for the sweeter option. We both wondered what the bitter chocolate option could have tasted like! Both his mocha and my vanilla latte (the one time I got a hot drink) were luke-warm. I would give a 5/10 on overall flavor.

10. Anchorhead Coffee | Seattle (Downtown)

Ambiance

  • Though this coffee shop is connected to the lobby of an office building, it doesn’t feel awkward at all. Unless you’re like me and have a hard time finding the entrance door…

  • This hidden gem is exactly that – a gem. It has a darker feel with all black walls and bistro lights hanging from the ceiling. I walked in and immediately experienced a nice break from the typical stark white walls often found in the Seattle coffee shop scene. All around very cozy!

Parking

  • Anchorhead is right in the midst of the awful Seattle one-ways and downtown shopping district so I highly recommend paying for a parking garage for this one. Trust me, you’ll save yourself time and stress by parking right across the street in the garage under Barnes & Noble.

Space

  • The seating here is pretty limited but with what is available, there’s a nice mix of couches, tables, and barstool seating. Overflow seating can be found in the office building lobby but… I wouldn’t want to have to sit there, just wishing I could be in this cute space.

Coffee Flavor

  • I found delicious coffee roasted by Anchorhead themselves. Also, I don’t often get food with my coffee or make a mention of it on these reviews but I may have eaten the best breakfast biscuit of my life here. They are also known for their famous quaffle – a croissant dough cinnamon roll that is shaped like a waffle. This will most definitely be on my list to try on my next visit!


I'll wrap up this edition of the "Seattle Coffee Shop Scene" for now but plenty of more coffee shop reviews are on their way so stay tuned!


Didn't see your favorite coffee shop listed here? Let me know so I can add it to the list.


Cheers!

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