Caffé Vita – Seattle, WA
Caffé Vita Coffee Roasting Company
813 5th Ave N
There is just something innate about living on the we[s]t coast that seems to drive the people here into the warm embrace of a welcoming hot cup of good coffee more so then perhaps other parts of the continent. Some sources peg Seattle as averaging about 160 days of the year with a measurable rainfall and getting 92cm of the wet stuff per year (compare that to say Los Angeles, which receives just 30cm). No wonder this gem in the Pacific Northwest is often referred to as Rain City.
An unproven theory that I hold is that when the outdoors are unpleasant but still tantalizingly temperate enough to make one long to be outside in non-rainy weather, it makes for an ideal environment for the development of a strong network of neighborhood cafés. For what better way to pine for better weather and gaze outside at it hoping for a shift in Mother Nature, than in the company of friends and neighbors, all huddled together in a homey place buzzing with the hum of active conversation that signify the free sharing of thoughts and ideas, with everyone sipping on a cup of aromatic and deep flavored coffee.
Does that paint a warm and fuzzy picture? I sure hope it does…
Doing a quick scan of the online community for some favored coffee houses in Seattle produces a plethora of results. Luckily, I left this legwork to my traveling companion and we found that we were starting our day in a neighborhood with one on the list nearby. Good for us, as we both needed an early caffeine jolt to get started that morning. And so with that, we quickly made our way to Caffé Vita in the Queen Anne section of town, and found it nestled into a quiet street-side building, across from some newer condominiums. Apparently, this location was the original base (established in 1995) of this four-café operation, which also has its own roasterie.
Immediately it was clear to me that this is a popular place in the morning, as there was already a lineup inside, a few spots taken at the tables and it was just past 8am on a Saturday. As we were served, the flow of traffic didn’t really let up for a while, until finally there was a lull, with sporadic visitors either walking in or driving by and parking on the street out front and coming inside thereafter. I love these kinds of places, where it seems the baristas know almost everyone by name, are willing and able to strike up some quick but non-phony conversation even though they are being pressured by a building lineup of customers, and nobody seems to mind.
Miraculously, I managed to pull a direct quote and contribution from the a fore mentioned, food blog-shy breakfast buddy, and here it is…
“Firstly, the thing I noticed was that they used a french press for all the drip coffee. I for one think french press is a much better way of brewing coffee than the drip-method, so it was great to see that they cared as well. The americano had a nice thick concrete-like crema, and it wasn’t bitter at all. Delicious! As well, the muffin had the things I love about good muffins. A almost-crusty muffin-top while the muffin-base was still moist, filled with blueberry goodness”.
I, on the other hand, needed a body warming latte to boost my slumbering morning awareness, which was bolstered by what turned out to be a super sugary blueberry scone (not made in-house). Decent free pour artwork (coincidentally, the café was also decorated with framed pieces of art created by local artists), but what grabbed my attention the most was this funky logo for the Caffé Vita brand that was on both the paper cup and bag containing my food. Looking like a court jester with his baggy garb and Pinocchio-like nose, apparently he’s known as Punchinello, and is derived from the puppetry art form of Naples.
Lastly, as a souvenir of sorts for the drive back up to the border, I picked up a one-pound bag of one of their whole bean products located on the shelf. Several in-house blends, chocolate products, and artisan teas make up other items for sale – they have a dedicated online store as well that does ship internationally. For those interested in coffee-of-the-month options, they have these too (in 6mo, 12mo durations). Quality coffee and friendly service, it seems to be the core of what the Caffé Vita operation is striving to achieve, and by adding things like their ‘Farm Direct’ program to source the best coffees directly from the world’s best farms, it just builds on their legacy as a positive and thoughtful organization which is investing in positive efforts and initiatives to further their impact on the coffee scene and protect those most often overlooked – the producers.
Product description from Caffé Vita:
Sumatra (Gayo River) – Hands down this is among the finest Organic Sumatrans we have ever encountered, with impeccable flavor profile, low acidity and swaggering body. A rich, aromatic cup with well balanced flavors of dark berry, vanilla, baking spice, smoke and earthiness. Accented with notes of tobacco and hops throughout the warm, comforting finish. The farmers in this valley are extraordinarily dedicated to their trees and surrounding environment, their passion for organic and sustainable technique is awe inspiring and these farms are in the final stretches of obtaining Fair Trade certification. Chilies, bananas, passion fruit, papayas, and towering shade trees all grow harmoniously amongst the coffee.