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Seattle’s Coffee Buzz: Explore a Unique Java Culture

Seattle’s grandest and best-known love affair is with the coffee bean. No other city in the country is more readily identified with the brew. And it’s a well-deserved reputation; coffee is not just a morning eye-opener in these parts. Seattleites can be seen with a steaming cup in hand at all hours of the day. It’s not hard to partake; Seattle’s brewers pride themselves in finding the best bean and roasting it to perfection.
Many purveyors of Seattle’s favorite beverage take pride in serving a product that is organic and Fair Trade certified. Look for those labels when you stop in to sip and savor Seattle’s best.
The first stop for many caffeine addicts is, of course, the original Starbucks. The coffee giant revolutionized the gourmet cup and café in the United States, and it’s easy to find its roots. Located insde Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, the original Starbucks often has a line out the door. It moves quickly, and there are usually great street performers nearby to lighten the mood.
For a full Seattle coffee experience, companies such as Seattle by Foot offer intensive tours. The Coffee Crawl is a two-hour tour of some of the best coffee offerings in the city. Seattle Magazine called this tour a must-do for coffee lovers. It mixes facts and culture, fun local gossip and architecture with the java jolt.
Then there’s always the simple pleasure of taking in Seattle’s myriad coffeehouses at leisure. There are many great destinations including the Local Color, Art, Coffee & More, known for serving its brew amid the paintings, pottery and photography of local artists.
To get a full appreciation of Seattle’s coffee culture, consider attending a “cupping,” or tasting. Here are some ways to cup like a local:
  • Before they’re immersed in water, inhale the freshly ground beans. Notice the different scents in each cup.
  • Slowly pour boiling water over each sample of grounds, making sure they’re saturated.
  • Wait four minutes for a “crust” of grounds to form on top.
  • With your nose directly above it, place your cupping spoon horizontally on the crust and break through, deeply inhaling the aromas.
  • Remove the grounds and slurp a spoonful of the hot liquid — literally inhaling air with the coffee to release its full flavor.
  • Like wine, distinct characteristics are born from specific geographical regions. Appreciate initial notes, evaluate aftertastes and finishes, and compare your findings and your favorites with the other cuppers.

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