For richer or pour over, Seattle’s sensational coffee shops are what keep us going in the morning. Our city helped create cafe culture more than 50 years ago — thanks to a certain coffee giant — and we’ve been sipping right along ever since.
The Emerald City has no shortage of masterful baristas, aromatic roasts, and foamy lattes. But if you’re having trouble deciding on a spot, gather some brews clues with our guide to some of the best coffee shops in Seattle.
Pro tip: If you need to refine your order, review the different kinds of coffee before stepping up to the counter.
Cafe Allegro, U District | With a history that goes back nearly 50 years, It’s hard not to get nostalgic for those shaggy early days of Seattle coffee — and the original espresso blend has delightful smoky notes.
Espresso Vivace, Various locations | Those who love caramel flavors will want to hit up this old-school joint, which uses a Northern Italian style of roasting.
Moonshot Coffee, White Center | This part-cafe, part-bottle shop serves up rich double shots from Olympia made with care. Take home some well-curated natural wine, too.
Monorail Espresso, Various locations | From humble beginnings 40 years ago as a roving cart, Monorail’s smooth drinks are now a staple of the downtown crowd.
Hood Famous Cafe + Bar, Chinatown-International District | The Filipino bakeshop known for its cheesecake also makes a mean ube latte, as delicious it is pretty.
Dote, Bellevue | In addition to offering its own roasted beans, one of the company’s owners is a chocolatier who’s created a series of ganaches that are blended into the shop’s drinks. Talk about decadence.
Cloud City Coffee, Maple Leaf | We all like a solid seasonal sipper — try out winter drinks like the ChaiNog or the Cranberry Matcha Latte.
Cafe Avole, Central District | Espressos here are brewed in a clay pot as an homage to Ethiopian traditions, while the sweet macchiatos can be customized with eight different flavors and sauces.
Hello Em, Little Saigon | This Vietnamese coffee shop (and sibling to Pho Bac) serves a creamy drink known as the pandan egg cloud — it’ll have you floating.
Anchorhead, Various Locations | You may recognize the name from roasts on grocery store shelves, but visit one of the cafes to try its experimental cold brew flavors, like the one made with burnt honey.
Empire Roasters and Records, Columbia City | Sip on a matcha latte with cashew milk made onsite with date syrup, while perusing the extensive collection of vinyl albums.
Roasts to boast
Santo Coffee Co., Roosevelt | This chic shop has created a simple menu that’s intended to put most of the focus on its carefully balanced roast blends.
Victrola Coffee, Capitol Hill | Grab a bag or a subscription for one of Victrola’s meticulously curated single origins roasts — free tastings every Friday open the floor to questions.
Elm Coffee Roasters, Pioneer Square | There are complex finds to delight coffee nerds here, pairing nicely with pastries from Sea Wolf bakers.
Herkimer, Various locations | You’ll find roasts from small farms in Mexico, Guatemala, Rwanda, and other countries that taste equally great onsite or brewed at home.
Onda Origins, Hillman City | Baristas will happily help walk you through techniques to bring out the best flavors from each batch — your cash also goes directly to the original growers.
Phin, Little Saigon | At this charming Vietnamese coffee shop, the pandan waffles — made with a crispy exterior — are becoming legendary. They go well with those sweet, rich drinks.
Little Jaye, South Park | Flavors from smokehouse Lady Jaye have been set loose upon a bakery menu that includes treats like biscuits, rice krispy treats, and cakes. They’re all complimented by excellent brews from Stamp Act Coffee.
ʔálʔal Café, Pioneer Square | Items like bison tacos and Navajo Nation blue corn bread are just a couple of breakfast highlights at this new Native-owned cafe.
Cherry Street, Various locations | Grab a hearty lunch with your iced coffee — there are gyros, falafel salads, spinach pies, and Persian rice bowls.
Volunteer Park Cafe & Pantry, Capitol Hill | The cozy spot serves delectable pastries from an ex Canlis pastry chef and fancy toasts. Whipped goat cheese with marmalade, anyone?
Makeda and Mingus, Greenwood | Forget light snacks — you’ll find rotating weekly dinners inspired by the owner’s Indian roots, from aloo gobi to curry and beyond.
Where to write your novel
Boon Boona, First Hill + UW | The relaxed vibes at the cafe and African coffee roaster is perfect for those who want to sit and ponder life.
Dubsea Coffee, White Center | Though not a large space, the light-filled cafe down the block from a library has plenty of peace and quiet.
Mr. West, Various locations | As they say, write drunk, edit sober. This menu shifts throughout the day from yummy breakfast items and coffees to a selection of more robust sandwiches and wines in the evening hours.
Gemini Room, Capitol Hill | If you’re looking for a mood-setting atmosphere, this space leans heavily into those retro 70s vibes, without the odd wooden paneling or water beds.
Little Oddfellows, Capitol Hill | When you’re a coffee shop inside Elliott Bay Bookstore, safe to say you like to keep it lit.
Events and pop-ups
Black Coffee Northwest, Various locations | In addition to brewing a great cup of joe, this local biz also offers youth programs that teach kids about how to run a business. It also regularly hosts makers markets and festivals — and will soon have a cafe in the Central District.
Neko Cat Cafe, Capitol Hill | Check two things off your to-do list here — adopt a new kitty and grab a cup of coffee. Or, if you’re not in the mood to make a commitment, you can just hang out with the kitties while you sip instead.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery, Capitol Hill | While the cavernous flagship can get packed with tourists, you can reserve a spot at the bar’s many tasting events and brewing demos.
Mabel, Ballard | There’s live music and a flexible workspace in the back known as the “The RV Park” where pop-ups can test things out.
Fuel Coffee, Capitol Hill | Join the free, weekly “Sip Sessions,” which range from oolong tea tastings to the basics of coffee cupping.
Resistencia, South Park | The Cafe con Leche open mic nights on the first Tuesday of every month lets local musicians and poets shine.
Distant Worlds, Roosevelt | Geeks often gather here for a Star Trek discussion group or Dungeons & Dragons session — there are regular pie and Cuban pastry pop-ups, too.
Where to cool off
Coffeeholic House, Various locations | You’ll wanna pack a sweet tooth when visiting this Vietnamese cafe sensation known for wild, frosty concoctions like the Ube Monster.
Yellow Butterfly Coffee, Pioneer Square | The raspberry white chocolate iced coffee may make you wonder why you ever drank hot beverages before.
Bellden Cafe, Bellevue | Nicknamed the “nicest place in Washington” by Reader’s Digest, this coffee shop with reservable conference rooms has a community fund to benefit local nonprofits like Jubilee Reach, Vision House, and the Washington Trails Association.
Lula Coffee Co., West Seattle | It’s okay to be a little extra sometimes and order a toffee butter macchiato in front of a neon pink sign.
The Station, Beacon Hill | Grab a cold brew before hopping on the light rail — or order that dessert-like Mocha Mexicano on the rocks.
Cafe Red, Othello | Drinks like the iced vanilla latte infused with cinnamon hits the spot no matter the season — though we’d recommend sunning yourself on the patio when the weather is suitable.
For latte art lovers
Moore Coffee, Belltown | From cartoon characters to lovely flowers, the pictures drawn through steamed milk at this quaint cafe will blow your mind (try the tamales, too).
Red Arrow Coffee, Ballard | The garden entrance and too-cute lattes make this an excellently Instagrammable spot.
Caffe Ladro, Various locations | The turmeric lattes at this old-school franchise add a little spice to gray Seattle days.
Tougo Coffee, Central District | Try the popular honey goat latte or the choc-oat dairy-free option, always poured with love.
Sound and Fog, West Seattle | Hang these drinks in a museum — the minimalist cafe makes a pretty matcha latte with nary a drop out of place.
Analog Coffee, Capitol Hill | Come for the shaggy, retro vinyl aesthetics, but stay for the wonderful experiments like a spiced sweet potato latte.