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A storefront with people waiting in line for a coffee counter and a neon pink sign spelling “cafecito” on the wall.
Papa Chango is a Miami-style coffee counter in Ballard.
Papa Chango

Seattle’s Most Essential Coffee Shops

With Vietnamese brews topped with egg foam, Ethiopian coffee ceremonies, old-school espresso, and more

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Papa Chango is a Miami-style coffee counter in Ballard.
| Papa Chango

Looking for great coffee? You chose the right place. Seattle’s coffee culture is diverse, growing, and continuously inventive. In addition to longstanding institutions like Caffè Umbria and Espresso Vivace, new cafes spring up frequently, bringing their own distinctive contributions to the coffee scene. Launching last year, Wunderground Coffee put a spin on coffee drinks with its coffee and adaptogenic mushroom options. Coffeeholic House and Hello Em have both opened in the last couple of years, introducing Vietnamese coffee to more caffeine heads than ever before. Expert roasters from Costa Rica and Ethiopia — at Fulcrum Coffee and Cafe Avole respectively — have also recently expanded their operations in additional or new spaces.

Aside from providing exceptional pour overs and standout espresso drinks, Seattle’s coffee spots are vital neighborhood hubs for community. Coffee shops like The Station in Beacon Hill, Black Coffee Northwest locations in Shoreline and Ballard, and South Park’s Resistencia Coffee have carved out neighborhood spaces for art, mutual aid, and activism. No matter what corner of Seattle, delicious coffee served in a welcoming space is usually a short walk away.

This guide highlights some of the city’s finest coffee spots. As usual, this list is not ranked; it’s organized geographically. For some standout small batch roasters (with or without a cafe attached), check out this guide.

Know of a spot that should be on our radar? Send us a tip by emailing seattle@eater.com.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Sound and Fog

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In this ultra-minimalist shop in West Seattle, beans from a variety of Pacific Northwest and other roasters across the U.S. are featured, with Portland’s acclaimed Heart Roasters prominent in the lineup. Seasonal drinks, like espresso soda, nitro and regular cold brew on tap — as well as rotating beer and wine selections — round out the impressive beverage options. It also offers some coffee and wine subscriptions. Indoor seating at Sound and Fog is slated to return at the end of March.

Caffe Ladro

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A little cafe in Upper Queen Anne that opened 28 years ago has blossomed into a mini empire and has become a well-loved staple of the Seattle coffee scene with its own roasting program. Try the short Yankee Dog, an Americano with a dash of cinnamon, that always hits the spot.

Makeda and Mingus

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Named partly after the Queen of Sheba (Makeda), and partly after chef-owner Prashanthi Reddy’s rat terrier (Mingus), this Greenwood spot specializes in not just excellent brews, but also a stellar menu of Indian fare in its weekly dinner offerings. The golden milk latte, a family recipe from Reddy, is also a highlight.

Herkimer Coffee

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Founded in 2003, Herkimer Coffee is a wholesale roaster with four cafe locations in Seattle. Herkimer emphasizes relationship-driven models of direct trade and sourcing, offering both blends and single origin beans. Current selections include Ethiopian coffees from Gogogu Bekaka in the Guji zone, and coffee from longtime partners at Finca Campo Amor in Colombia, and more. Not sure what coffee to choose? Just ask one of Herkimer’s helpful baristas, or check out the coffee subscription options online.

Moonshot Coffee

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This take-out only cafe in White Center on 16th Avenue SW serves up a variety of fantastic, seasonal lattes and other flavored drinks, including the decadent Mocha Arbol, made with an infusion of chile de arbol, panela, cinnamon, and Theo dark chocolate. The vibe is welcoming and baristas are friendly and helpful at this small cafe. Moonshot also sells beer and wine.

Black Coffee Northwest Café

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Although technically about a mile north of city limits, Shoreline’s Black-owned cafe is an important hub for communities of color in North Seattle. The nonprofit cafe has youth-focused programs like barista training, internships, and leadership opportunities. Swing by and pick up a Melanin Mocha or Supa’ Fly Chai. Be sure to check out Black Coffee NW’s newest location in Ballard at 1713 NW Market St.

Dubsea Coffee

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One of White Center’s best neighborhood cafes nestled into a residential area features a standout cardamom latte, as well as art made by students from the nearby high school. Enjoy Dubsea’s outdoor plaza seating area on a sunny afternoon. Indoor seating reopened at the beginning of March.

Fulcrum Café

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One of Seattle’s most esteemed roasters is run by fifth-generation Costa Rican coffee farmer Blas Aflaro. Fulcrum’s Belltown cafe is modern and welcoming, and delivers on the high standards set for quality coffee. Here, one can order a meticulously prepared espresso from one of Fulcrum’s thoughtfully sourced roasts, or opt one of the more playful lattes. Some examples are the butterfly pea flower latte with vanilla and lavender and the pink beetroot latte with rosewater and jasmine flowers.

Monorail Espresso

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Credited with being the nation’s first espresso cart, Monorail Espresso should be on the radar for any Seattle coffee devotee. Its original incarnation — a coffee cart (stationed by the entrance of the downtown monorail) made with parts from a Boeing surplus shuttle cart in 1980 — eventually transitioned into a walk-up window at Fifth Avenue and Pike Street. At any time you’ll find a steady flow of business suits, tourists, and bike messengers eager for a pick-me-up.

A walk-up cafe window. Behind the glass is an espresso machine. A menu and various other flyers are posted on the windows.
Monorail Espresso’s walk-up window at Fifth Ave. and Pike Street downtown.
Monorail Espresso

Caffè Umbria

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This well-respected company, with locations across the country, has a history of coffee-making that goes back decades, originating in a roastery in Perugia, Italy. Using more than 15 varietals of coffee, the blends are fantastic and Umbria’s espresso is some of the best around.

Zoka Coffee Roaster and Tea Company

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Zoka is one of the city’s great older school coffee shops and roasters, truly specific to Seattle. Opened in 1997, when people started clamoring to know where their coffee came from, this destination is still just as good as it was in the late days of grunge. Visit any of the company’s four cafes around the Seattle area, or set up a subscription.

Elm Coffee Roasters

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Pioneer Square’s coffee haven is the perfect place for stellar coffee, yet approachable in a way that invites you to learn more about the finer points of brewing methods. With a rotation of seasonal coffees (current offerings are sourced from Peru and Columbia), and a streamlined, solid menu of coffee drinks, Elm is a go-to.

Hood Famous Cafe and Bar

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At this Chinatown International District shop, chef and co-owner Chera Amlag has drawn high praise for her delectable Filipino treats, including the cafe’s famed bright purple ube cheesecakes. On the coffee side, Hood Famous’ pandan lattes and iced calamansi espresso tonics are distinctly Filipino takes on specialty coffee drinks. By day, Hood Famous is a cafe and bakery, and at night it transforms into a cocktail bar serving pulutan, Filipino bar food.

Victrola Cafe and Roastery

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Victrola is one of the most prominent roasters in the city, known for its consistently highly graded coffees, including Kenyan peaberry offerings. Victrola’s location on Pike Street also serves as a roastery, training facility, and cupping room. There are beans for sale online, as well as subscriptions to single origin roasts. Try the cozy location at 15th Avenue on Capitol Hill, the bustling downtown cafe, or the smaller outpost in Beacon Hill in addition to the Pike Street roastery.

Tougo Coffee

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This First Hill spot is a welcoming haven for sourdough bread and other baked goods, as well as lovingly pulled espresso and other enticing caffeinated beverages. The flavored lattes are not to be missed. Try the Honey Goat Latte, Salted Caramel Mocha, or the Lavender Good Good.

Espresso Vivace

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Founded in 1988, Vivace was a pioneer in the early days of Seattle espresso culture, especially through the contributions of co-founder David Schomer, who wrote an influential book on espresso techniques and latte art in 1994 and educated countless baristas over the years who have gone on to open cafes and chains of their own. Those who want to pay homage should pay a visit to the Capitol Hill sidewalk bar, where a shrine to Caffeina, Goddess of the Walking Day, is closeby.

Hello Em Việt Coffee & Roastery

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Hello Em sources Vietnamese coffee and roasts in-house at its coffee shop in Little Saigon. Menu offerings include espresso drinks topped with fluffy egg crème (made from egg yolks), and egg cloud (made from the egg whites). Popular in north Vietnam, egg coffee drinks originate from milk shortages during the First Indochina War. Hello Em also sells pressed bánh mì sandwiches and pastries.

A serving tray with wrapped, pressed banh mi sandwiches. A hot and and iced coffee drink are in the background.
In addition to Vietnamese coffee drinks, Hello Em serves up baked goods and pressed banh mi sandwiches.
Hello Em

Resistencia Coffee

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Resistencia Coffee is a hub for the South Park Latinx community. Art from local artists hangs on the walls, pop-up events with local food vendors are frequent, and Resistencia even hosts an open-mic night every month. The Xingona Latte, made with cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of cayenne, is a good bet.

Cafe Allegro

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One of the oldest shops and roasteries in the Seattle area, Café Allegro has been serving up espresso in the University District since 1975. Allegro’s coffee is available online, but to really feel the old school Seattle vibe, you’ll want to go there in person. The entrance is through a brick-walled alley.

The Station

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Beacon Hill’s coffee shop by the Light Rail station has long been vocal and active about social justice causes. In addition to excellent coffee drinks, The Station hosts pop-ups and food drives, and is a hub for community organizing. The shop is a lively and welcoming neighborhood gathering place where you can sip on a Mexican Mocha or hot chocolate or enjoy one of The Station’s excellent sandwiches.

Fuel Coffee

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In 2020, the 15 year-old Fuel Coffee officially came under the new ownership of Danielle and David Hulton, owners of Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe. Since then, Fuel’s three locations have undergone a bit of a makeover. The result is a fresh new look, design, and the addition of books for sale. Check out the space-themed Milky Way and Andromeda blends.

Union Coffee and Wine

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Geetu Vailoor purchased this Central District cafe in 2020, continuing the shop’s devotion to specialty coffee, but with a more welcoming, inclusive vibe. Union has some fantastic offerings from local small batch roaster Looking Homeward Coffee (and other exceptional roasters), flavored lattes (the rose cardamom is mind-blowing), and a selection of natural wine.

Coffeeholic House

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Over the past two years, there have been several coffee shops in Seattle opening up with Vietnamese coffee as the focus. Coffeeholic was the first of the bunch, and there’s no denying its popularity, with customers regularly lined out the door to grab excellent ube lattes, ice cold coffee topped with cheese foam, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch-filled drinks, as well as some light bites. Coffeeholic has a location in Columbia City and one in Greenwood. It also roasts its own beans sourced from Da Lat, Vietnam.

Empire Roasters & Records

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Columbia City’s gem is known for excellent seasonal latte art, so every frothy cup — from sweet matcha to lavender to cayenne — ought to hold something Instagram-worthy. The popular house-made cashew milk sells out fast, so owner Ian Peters often has to whip up extra batches throughout the day. Snacks include crispy waffles (including vegan and gluten-free versions), and since the pandemic, the upstairs has transformed into a vinyl record shop.

Kaffa Coffee and Wine Bar

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This longtime Rainier Valley Ethiopian favorite is more of a full-fledged restaurant than a cafe, but its single origin roasts have incredible depth, best paired with any of the wonderful wots or fuls. Even though the pandemic has necessarily limited in-person interaction, Kaffa will perform the immersive Ethiopian coffee ceremony upon request (if scheduled far enough in advance), an exceptional way to experience coffee culture from the country where it originated.

Papá Changó Cafe

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Inspired by the flavors and Latinx cultures of Miami, Papa Chango adds a fresh twist on coffee drinks. Housed inside the Ballard retail store September, the takeout-only, pint-sized cafe often has long lines, and its pastries like papaya scones and pastelitos, tend to sell out fast. Owner Sergio García is currently at work on a summer menu that will include a guayaba espresso tonic drink, and more. Sunnier days ahead mean more outdoor seating, and possibly, live music.

This operation offers what very few Seattle roasters can: Ethiopian coffee sourced from and imported by Ethiopian roasters. Many of its offerings come from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, known for rich chocolatey flavor with explosive berry notes. Co-founder Solomon Dubie has an instinctive feel for taste, as he observed the Ethiopian coffee ceremony at an early age. It’s Brighton location is closed, but Cafe Avole is now located in the Central District’s Liberty Bank Building and its Georgetown-based roastery is expanding.

Sound and Fog

In this ultra-minimalist shop in West Seattle, beans from a variety of Pacific Northwest and other roasters across the U.S. are featured, with Portland’s acclaimed Heart Roasters prominent in the lineup. Seasonal drinks, like espresso soda, nitro and regular cold brew on tap — as well as rotating beer and wine selections — round out the impressive beverage options. It also offers some coffee and wine subscriptions. Indoor seating at Sound and Fog is slated to return at the end of March.

Caffe Ladro

A little cafe in Upper Queen Anne that opened 28 years ago has blossomed into a mini empire and has become a well-loved staple of the Seattle coffee scene with its own roasting program. Try the short Yankee Dog, an Americano with a dash of cinnamon, that always hits the spot.

Makeda and Mingus

Named partly after the Queen of Sheba (Makeda), and partly after chef-owner Prashanthi Reddy’s rat terrier (Mingus), this Greenwood spot specializes in not just excellent brews, but also a stellar menu of Indian fare in its weekly dinner offerings. The golden milk latte, a family recipe from Reddy, is also a highlight.

Herkimer Coffee

Founded in 2003, Herkimer Coffee is a wholesale roaster with four cafe locations in Seattle. Herkimer emphasizes relationship-driven models of direct trade and sourcing, offering both blends and single origin beans. Current selections include Ethiopian coffees from Gogogu Bekaka in the Guji zone, and coffee from longtime partners at Finca Campo Amor in Colombia, and more. Not sure what coffee to choose? Just ask one of Herkimer’s helpful baristas, or check out the coffee subscription options online.

Moonshot Coffee

This take-out only cafe in White Center on 16th Avenue SW serves up a variety of fantastic, seasonal lattes and other flavored drinks, including the decadent Mocha Arbol, made with an infusion of chile de arbol, panela, cinnamon, and Theo dark chocolate. The vibe is welcoming and baristas are friendly and helpful at this small cafe. Moonshot also sells beer and wine.

Black Coffee Northwest Café

Although technically about a mile north of city limits, Shoreline’s Black-owned cafe is an important hub for communities of color in North Seattle. The nonprofit cafe has youth-focused programs like barista training, internships, and leadership opportunities. Swing by and pick up a Melanin Mocha or Supa’ Fly Chai. Be sure to check out Black Coffee NW’s newest location in Ballard at 1713 NW Market St.

Dubsea Coffee

One of White Center’s best neighborhood cafes nestled into a residential area features a standout cardamom latte, as well as art made by students from the nearby high school. Enjoy Dubsea’s outdoor plaza seating area on a sunny afternoon. Indoor seating reopened at the beginning of March.

Fulcrum Café

One of Seattle’s most esteemed roasters is run by fifth-generation Costa Rican coffee farmer Blas Aflaro. Fulcrum’s Belltown cafe is modern and welcoming, and delivers on the high standards set for quality coffee. Here, one can order a meticulously prepared espresso from one of Fulcrum’s thoughtfully sourced roasts, or opt one of the more playful lattes. Some examples are the butterfly pea flower latte with vanilla and lavender and the pink beetroot latte with rosewater and jasmine flowers.

Monorail Espresso

A walk-up cafe window. Behind the glass is an espresso machine. A menu and various other flyers are posted on the windows.
Monorail Espresso’s walk-up window at Fifth Ave. and Pike Street downtown.
Monorail Espresso

Credited with being the nation’s first espresso cart, Monorail Espresso should be on the radar for any Seattle coffee devotee. Its original incarnation — a coffee cart (stationed by the entrance of the downtown monorail) made with parts from a Boeing surplus shuttle cart in 1980 — eventually transitioned into a walk-up window at Fifth Avenue and Pike Street. At any time you’ll find a steady flow of business suits, tourists, and bike messengers eager for a pick-me-up.

A walk-up cafe window. Behind the glass is an espresso machine. A menu and various other flyers are posted on the windows.
Monorail Espresso’s walk-up window at Fifth Ave. and Pike Street downtown.
Monorail Espresso

Caffè Umbria

This well-respected company, with locations across the country, has a history of coffee-making that goes back decades, originating in a roastery in Perugia, Italy. Using more than 15 varietals of coffee, the blends are fantastic and Umbria’s espresso is some of the best around.

Zoka Coffee Roaster and Tea Company

Zoka is one of the city’s great older school coffee shops and roasters, truly specific to Seattle. Opened in 1997, when people started clamoring to know where their coffee came from, this destination is still just as good as it was in the late days of grunge. Visit any of the company’s four cafes around the Seattle area, or set up a subscription.

Elm Coffee Roasters

Pioneer Square’s coffee haven is the perfect place for stellar coffee, yet approachable in a way that invites you to learn more about the finer points of brewing methods. With a rotation of seasonal coffees (current offerings are sourced from Peru and Columbia), and a streamlined, solid menu of coffee drinks, Elm is a go-to.

Hood Famous Cafe and Bar

At this Chinatown International District shop, chef and co-owner Chera Amlag has drawn high praise for her delectable Filipino treats, including the cafe’s famed bright purple ube cheesecakes. On the coffee side, Hood Famous’ pandan lattes and iced calamansi espresso tonics are distinctly Filipino takes on specialty coffee drinks. By day, Hood Famous is a cafe and bakery, and at night it transforms into a cocktail bar serving pulutan, Filipino bar food.

Victrola Cafe and Roastery

Victrola is one of the most prominent roasters in the city, known for its consistently highly graded coffees, including Kenyan peaberry offerings. Victrola’s location on Pike Street also serves as a roastery, training facility, and cupping room. There are beans for sale online, as well as subscriptions to single origin roasts. Try the cozy location at 15th Avenue on Capitol Hill, the bustling downtown cafe, or the smaller outpost in Beacon Hill in addition to the Pike Street roastery.

Tougo Coffee

This First Hill spot is a welcoming haven for sourdough bread and other baked goods, as well as lovingly pulled espresso and other enticing caffeinated beverages. The flavored lattes are not to be missed. Try the Honey Goat Latte, Salted Caramel Mocha, or the Lavender Good Good.

Related Maps

Espresso Vivace

Founded in 1988, Vivace was a pioneer in the early days of Seattle espresso culture, especially through the contributions of co-founder David Schomer, who wrote an influential book on espresso techniques and latte art in 1994 and educated countless baristas over the years who have gone on to open cafes and chains of their own. Those who want to pay homage should pay a visit to the Capitol Hill sidewalk bar, where a shrine to Caffeina, Goddess of the Walking Day, is closeby.

Hello Em Việt Coffee & Roastery

A serving tray with wrapped, pressed banh mi sandwiches. A hot and and iced coffee drink are in the background.
In addition to Vietnamese coffee drinks, Hello Em serves up baked goods and pressed banh mi sandwiches.
Hello Em

Hello Em sources Vietnamese coffee and roasts in-house at its coffee shop in Little Saigon. Menu offerings include espresso drinks topped with fluffy egg crème (made from egg yolks), and egg cloud (made from the egg whites). Popular in north Vietnam, egg coffee drinks originate from milk shortages during the First Indochina War. Hello Em also sells pressed bánh mì sandwiches and pastries.

A serving tray with wrapped, pressed banh mi sandwiches. A hot and and iced coffee drink are in the background.
In addition to Vietnamese coffee drinks, Hello Em serves up baked goods and pressed banh mi sandwiches.
Hello Em

Resistencia Coffee

Resistencia Coffee is a hub for the South Park Latinx community. Art from local artists hangs on the walls, pop-up events with local food vendors are frequent, and Resistencia even hosts an open-mic night every month. The Xingona Latte, made with cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of cayenne, is a good bet.

Cafe Allegro

One of the oldest shops and roasteries in the Seattle area, Café Allegro has been serving up espresso in the University District since 1975. Allegro’s coffee is available online, but to really feel the old school Seattle vibe, you’ll want to go there in person. The entrance is through a brick-walled alley.

The Station

Beacon Hill’s coffee shop by the Light Rail station has long been vocal and active about social justice causes. In addition to excellent coffee drinks, The Station hosts pop-ups and food drives, and is a hub for community organizing. The shop is a lively and welcoming neighborhood gathering place where you can sip on a Mexican Mocha or hot chocolate or enjoy one of The Station’s excellent sandwiches.

Fuel Coffee

In 2020, the 15 year-old Fuel Coffee officially came under the new ownership of Danielle and David Hulton, owners of Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe. Since then, Fuel’s three locations have undergone a bit of a makeover. The result is a fresh new look, design, and the addition of books for sale. Check out the space-themed Milky Way and Andromeda blends.

Union Coffee and Wine

Geetu Vailoor purchased this Central District cafe in 2020, continuing the shop’s devotion to specialty coffee, but with a more welcoming, inclusive vibe. Union has some fantastic offerings from local small batch roaster Looking Homeward Coffee (and other exceptional roasters), flavored lattes (the rose cardamom is mind-blowing), and a selection of natural wine.

Coffeeholic House

Over the past two years, there have been several coffee shops in Seattle opening up with Vietnamese coffee as the focus. Coffeeholic was the first of the bunch, and there’s no denying its popularity, with customers regularly lined out the door to grab excellent ube lattes, ice cold coffee topped with cheese foam, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch-filled drinks, as well as some light bites. Coffeeholic has a location in Columbia City and one in Greenwood. It also roasts its own beans sourced from Da Lat, Vietnam.

Empire Roasters & Records

Columbia City’s gem is known for excellent seasonal latte art, so every frothy cup — from sweet matcha to lavender to cayenne — ought to hold something Instagram-worthy. The popular house-made cashew milk sells out fast, so owner Ian Peters often has to whip up extra batches throughout the day. Snacks include crispy waffles (including vegan and gluten-free versions), and since the pandemic, the upstairs has transformed into a vinyl record shop.

Kaffa Coffee and Wine Bar

This longtime Rainier Valley Ethiopian favorite is more of a full-fledged restaurant than a cafe, but its single origin roasts have incredible depth, best paired with any of the wonderful wots or fuls. Even though the pandemic has necessarily limited in-person interaction, Kaffa will perform the immersive Ethiopian coffee ceremony upon request (if scheduled far enough in advance), an exceptional way to experience coffee culture from the country where it originated.

Papá Changó Cafe

Inspired by the flavors and Latinx cultures of Miami, Papa Chango adds a fresh twist on coffee drinks. Housed inside the Ballard retail store September, the takeout-only, pint-sized cafe often has long lines, and its pastries like papaya scones and pastelitos, tend to sell out fast. Owner Sergio García is currently at work on a summer menu that will include a guayaba espresso tonic drink, and more. Sunnier days ahead mean more outdoor seating, and possibly, live music.

Avole

This operation offers what very few Seattle roasters can: Ethiopian coffee sourced from and imported by Ethiopian roasters. Many of its offerings come from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, known for rich chocolatey flavor with explosive berry notes. Co-founder Solomon Dubie has an instinctive feel for taste, as he observed the Ethiopian coffee ceremony at an early age. It’s Brighton location is closed, but Cafe Avole is now located in the Central District’s Liberty Bank Building and its Georgetown-based roastery is expanding.

Related Maps