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Blas Alfaro pours coffee from a glass pitcher into one of four ceramic cups lined up on a metal countertop.
Fulcrum’s Blas Alfaro pours coffee.
Suzi Pratt

Seattle’s Essential Coffee Shops

Vietnamese brews topped with egg foam, old-school espresso, and more high-quality caffeinated drinks

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Fulcrum’s Blas Alfaro pours coffee.
| Suzi Pratt

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. 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.

In addition to providing exceptional pour overs and 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 you’re in, you’re usually just a short walk away from delicious coffee in a welcoming space.

In related news, the Seattle area also has some standout small-batch roasters (with or without cafes attached).

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

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Black Coffee Northwest

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In addition to being a warm cafe, Shoreline’s Black-owned nonprofit Black Coffee Northwest is an important hub for communities of color in North Seattle, offering youth-focused programs like barista training, internships, and leadership opportunities. Swing by and pick up a Melanin Mocha or Africano in a variety of styles.

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 charmer 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 that you can get as is or dirty, 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, including this one in Phinney Ridge. Herkimer emphasizes relationship-driven models of direct trade and sourcing, offering both blends and single-origin beans. You’ll find the likes of Ethiopian coffees from Gogogu Bekaka in the Guji zone, Colombian brews from longtime partners at Finca Campo Amor, and more. Not sure what to choose? Just ask one of the helpful baristas, or check out the coffee subscriptions online.

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. This destination opened in 1997, when people started clamoring to know where their coffee came from, and it’s still as good as it was in the late days of grunge. Visit any of the company’s several cafes around the Seattle area, including this one just off of Green Lake, or set up a subscription.

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 tries to switch things up seasonally, rotating through specialties like a guayaba espresso tonic drink and beans from Bolivia and beyond.

Cafe Allegro

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One of the oldest shops and roasters in the Seattle area, Cafe 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.

Caffe Ladro

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A little cafe in Upper Queen Anne that opened about three decades ago has blossomed into a well-loved staple of the Seattle coffee scene with its own roasting program and a mini empire of locations in the double digits. Caffe Ladro’s short Yankee Dog, an Americano with a dash of cinnamon, always hits the spot, as do fresh-baked pastries like a chocolate-hazelnut cheesecake bar or a rum-soaked almond croissant.

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.

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. He wrote an influential book on espresso techniques and latte art in 1994 and, over the years, educated countless baristas who have gone on to open cafes and chains of their own. The company has a few locations, but those who want to pay homage can visit a shrine to Caffeina, Goddess of the Walking Day, near the Capitol Hill sidewalk bar.

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, you can order a meticulously prepared espresso from one of Fulcrum’s thoughtfully sourced roasts, a nitro or canned cold brew, or something else playful like a pink beetroot latte with rosewater and jasmine flowers. The SODO-based roaster also has a shop called Urban City Coffee in Mountlake Terrace.

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 Pike Street roastery also serves as a training facility and cupping room. You can also try the cozy shop at 15th Avenue on Capitol Hill, the bustling downtown cafe, or the smaller spot in Beacon Hill, as well as order beans and subscriptions online.

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 observed the Ethiopian coffee ceremony from an early age, and has an instinctive feel for taste. Cafe Avole is located in the Central District’s Liberty Bank Building and expanding its Georgetown-based roastery.

Monorail Espresso

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Groundbreaking Monorail Espresso should be on the radar for any coffee devotee. While Monorail Espresso has since transitioned to a walk-up window at Fifth Avenue and Pike Street (plus several other locations nearby), its original incarnation is credited with being the world’s first espresso card. How’s this for a backstory? Kent Bakke and John Blackwell, of La Marzocco fame, built it with parts from a Boeing surplus shuttle cart for a guy called Cappuccino Craig; Chuck and Susie Beek bought the cart and parked it by the Monorail entrance in 1980. 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 Avenue and Pike Street downtown.
Monorail Espresso

Tougo Coffee

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First Hill charmer Tougo rocks sourdough bread and other baked goods as well as lovingly pulled espresso and other tantalizing caffeinated beverages. Don’t miss signature treats like a salted caramel mocha, Lavender Good Good, or Honey Goat Latte.

Elm Coffee Roasters

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Elm Coffee Roasters is a perfect place for stellar coffee, geeky yet approachable in a way that invites you to learn more about the finer points of brewing as well as harvesting and processing. With a rotation of seasonal coffees sourced from countries like Peru and Columbia and a solid, streamlined menu of coffee drinks, this is a haven in Pioneer Square.

Caffè Umbria

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Now operating shops across the country in addition to this Pioneer Square spot and several others in the area, well-respected Caffè Umbria has a history of coffee-making that goes back decades, originating in a roastery in Perugia, Italy. The blends are fantastic, incorporating more than 15 varietals of coffee, and the espresso is some of the best around.

Hood Famous Cafe and Bar

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Hood Famous is a hip cafe and bakery in the Chinatown-International District built on the success of chef and co-owner Chera Amlag’s delectable Filipino treats, including a famed bright-purple ube cheesecake. On the coffee side, the pandan lattes and iced calamansi espresso tonics are distinctly Filipino takes on specialty coffee drinks. (The shop’s nighttime cocktail bar, which serves pulutan, or Filipino bar food, is currently closed.)

Hello Em

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The Pham family has been growing its legacy with exciting expansions to the Pho Bac restaurant lineup; Yenvy Pham’s Hello Em is one of the latest additions, a coffee shop and roastery in Little Saigon that sources directly from Vietnamese farmers. The menu includes espresso drinks topped with fluffy egg creme (made from egg yolks) and egg cloud (made from egg whites). Popular in the north of Vietnam, these egg coffee drinks originated from milk shortages during the First Indochina War. Hello Em also sells food like pressed banh mì sandwiches and pastries.

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 and enjoy an excellent sandwich.

Sound and Fog

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Ultra-minimalist, low on seating, and WiFi-free, West Seattle’s Sound and Fog features beans from a variety of roasters across the country, with Portland’s acclaimed Heart Roasters prominent in the lineup. Seasonal drinks like espresso soda, nitro and regular cold brew on tap, and rotating beer and wine selections round out the impressive beverage options. The shop also offers some coffee and wine subscriptions and a noteworthy chocolate selection.

Empire Roasters and Records

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Columbia City’s beloved Empire Roasters and Records 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.

Coffeeholic House

Copy Link

Over the past couple years, several coffee shops focusing on oft-neglected Vietnamese coffee have opened in Seattle. Coffeeholic, which roasts beans sourced from Da Lat, Vietnam, was the first of the bunch, and there’s no denying its popularity, with customers regularly lined up 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.

Kaffa Coffee and Wine Bar

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Longtime Rainier Valley Ethiopian favorite Kaffa 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 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.

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 occur frequently, and the shop even hosts an open-mic night every month. The Xingona Latte, made with cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of cayenne, is a good bet.

Moonshot Coffee

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Moonshot, a small, takeout-only cafe in White Center, 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 the baristas are helpful. The shop also sells a bunch of interesting beer and wine.

Dubsea Coffee

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Nestled into a residential area, Dubsea Coffee is one of White Center’s best neighborhood cafes, featuring a standout cardamom latte as well as art made by students from the nearby high school. Take advantage of the outdoor plaza seating area on a sunny afternoon.

Black Coffee Northwest

In addition to being a warm cafe, Shoreline’s Black-owned nonprofit Black Coffee Northwest is an important hub for communities of color in North Seattle, offering youth-focused programs like barista training, internships, and leadership opportunities. Swing by and pick up a Melanin Mocha or Africano in a variety of styles.

Makeda and Mingus

Named partly after the Queen of Sheba (Makeda), and partly after chef-owner Prashanthi Reddy’s rat terrier (Mingus), this Greenwood charmer 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 that you can get as is or dirty, is also a highlight.

Herkimer Coffee

Founded in 2003, Herkimer Coffee is a wholesale roaster with four cafe locations in Seattle, including this one in Phinney Ridge. Herkimer emphasizes relationship-driven models of direct trade and sourcing, offering both blends and single-origin beans. You’ll find the likes of Ethiopian coffees from Gogogu Bekaka in the Guji zone, Colombian brews from longtime partners at Finca Campo Amor, and more. Not sure what to choose? Just ask one of the helpful baristas, or check out the coffee subscriptions online.

Zoka Coffee Roaster and Tea Company

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

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 tries to switch things up seasonally, rotating through specialties like a guayaba espresso tonic drink and beans from Bolivia and beyond.

Cafe Allegro

One of the oldest shops and roasters in the Seattle area, Cafe 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.

Caffe Ladro

A little cafe in Upper Queen Anne that opened about three decades ago has blossomed into a well-loved staple of the Seattle coffee scene with its own roasting program and a mini empire of locations in the double digits. Caffe Ladro’s short Yankee Dog, an Americano with a dash of cinnamon, always hits the spot, as do fresh-baked pastries like a chocolate-hazelnut cheesecake bar or a rum-soaked almond croissant.

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.

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. He wrote an influential book on espresso techniques and latte art in 1994 and, over the years, educated countless baristas who have gone on to open cafes and chains of their own. The company has a few locations, but those who want to pay homage can visit a shrine to Caffeina, Goddess of the Walking Day, near the Capitol Hill sidewalk bar.

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, you can order a meticulously prepared espresso from one of Fulcrum’s thoughtfully sourced roasts, a nitro or canned cold brew, or something else playful like a pink beetroot latte with rosewater and jasmine flowers. The SODO-based roaster also has a shop called Urban City Coffee in Mountlake Terrace.

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 Pike Street roastery also serves as a training facility and cupping room. You can also try the cozy shop at 15th Avenue on Capitol Hill, the bustling downtown cafe, or the smaller spot in Beacon Hill, as well as order beans and subscriptions online.

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 observed the Ethiopian coffee ceremony from an early age, and has an instinctive feel for taste. Cafe Avole is located in the Central District’s Liberty Bank Building and expanding its Georgetown-based roastery.

Monorail Espresso

Groundbreaking Monorail Espresso should be on the radar for any coffee devotee. While Monorail Espresso has since transitioned to a walk-up window at Fifth Avenue and Pike Street (plus several other locations nearby), its original incarnation is credited with being the world’s first espresso card. How’s this for a backstory? Kent Bakke and John Blackwell, of La Marzocco fame, built it with parts from a Boeing surplus shuttle cart for a guy called Cappuccino Craig; Chuck and Susie Beek bought the cart and parked it by the Monorail entrance in 1980. 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 Avenue and Pike Street downtown.
Monorail Espresso

Tougo Coffee

First Hill charmer Tougo rocks sourdough bread and other baked goods as well as lovingly pulled espresso and other tantalizing caffeinated beverages. Don’t miss signature treats like a salted caramel mocha, Lavender Good Good, or Honey Goat Latte.

Elm Coffee Roasters

Elm Coffee Roasters is a perfect place for stellar coffee, geeky yet approachable in a way that invites you to learn more about the finer points of brewing as well as harvesting and processing. With a rotation of seasonal coffees sourced from countries like Peru and Columbia and a solid, streamlined menu of coffee drinks, this is a haven in Pioneer Square.

Related Maps

Caffè Umbria

Now operating shops across the country in addition to this Pioneer Square spot and several others in the area, well-respected Caffè Umbria has a history of coffee-making that goes back decades, originating in a roastery in Perugia, Italy. The blends are fantastic, incorporating more than 15 varietals of coffee, and the espresso is some of the best around.

Hood Famous Cafe and Bar

Hood Famous is a hip cafe and bakery in the Chinatown-International District built on the success of chef and co-owner Chera Amlag’s delectable Filipino treats, including a famed bright-purple ube cheesecake. On the coffee side, the pandan lattes and iced calamansi espresso tonics are distinctly Filipino takes on specialty coffee drinks. (The shop’s nighttime cocktail bar, which serves pulutan, or Filipino bar food, is currently closed.)

Hello Em

The Pham family has been growing its legacy with exciting expansions to the Pho Bac restaurant lineup; Yenvy Pham’s Hello Em is one of the latest additions, a coffee shop and roastery in Little Saigon that sources directly from Vietnamese farmers. The menu includes espresso drinks topped with fluffy egg creme (made from egg yolks) and egg cloud (made from egg whites). Popular in the north of Vietnam, these egg coffee drinks originated from milk shortages during the First Indochina War. Hello Em also sells food like pressed banh mì sandwiches and pastries.

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 and enjoy an excellent sandwich.

Sound and Fog

Ultra-minimalist, low on seating, and WiFi-free, West Seattle’s Sound and Fog features beans from a variety of roasters across the country, with Portland’s acclaimed Heart Roasters prominent in the lineup. Seasonal drinks like espresso soda, nitro and regular cold brew on tap, and rotating beer and wine selections round out the impressive beverage options. The shop also offers some coffee and wine subscriptions and a noteworthy chocolate selection.

Empire Roasters and Records

Columbia City’s beloved Empire Roasters and Records 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.

Coffeeholic House

Over the past couple years, several coffee shops focusing on oft-neglected Vietnamese coffee have opened in Seattle. Coffeeholic, which roasts beans sourced from Da Lat, Vietnam, was the first of the bunch, and there’s no denying its popularity, with customers regularly lined up 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.

Kaffa Coffee and Wine Bar

Longtime Rainier Valley Ethiopian favorite Kaffa 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 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.

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 occur frequently, and the shop even hosts an open-mic night every month. The Xingona Latte, made with cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of cayenne, is a good bet.

Moonshot Coffee

Moonshot, a small, takeout-only cafe in White Center, 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 the baristas are helpful. The shop also sells a bunch of interesting beer and wine.

Dubsea Coffee

Nestled into a residential area, Dubsea Coffee is one of White Center’s best neighborhood cafes, featuring a standout cardamom latte as well as art made by students from the nearby high school. Take advantage of the outdoor plaza seating area on a sunny afternoon.

Related Maps