Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fueled By Caffeine

When you think of the Pacific Northwest, what comes to mind:  Fresh seafood and local ingredients? Environmental consciousness?  Grunge music?  What about coffee?  After all, Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks. 

I'm a casual coffee drinker.  I have a cup (to which I add milk and sweetener) with my breakfast every day, and once a week or so I have a second cup in the afternoon, . As long as it has the requisite caffeine kick, I'm good. Tony, however, is quite the coffee connoisseur. He drinks his coffee black, likes it steaming hot, and has been known to ask if a pot is fresh before he orders a cup.

Since we traveled to two coffee drinking Meccas (Seattle and Vancouver) on our vacation this year, we tried to sample as many different places as we could, and we kept track of the results.  I asked Tony to add his impressions (which are in italics).  Interestingly enough, good coffee didn't filter down to our hotels, each of which had the omnipresent in-room coffee pot and lowest common denominator prepackaged filtered coffee. However, both provided real mugs. What a nice touch!

In Seattle
  • Cherry Street Coffee House (Niece Jenne and Fiancé Tate's favorite)--This was excellent, and the best “Seattle" coffee. 
  • Foreza Di Vita--This was pretty good; it did not help that it was a very hot day
In Vancouver
  • Smart Mouth Grill in the Gastown section of Vancouver--Serviceable coffee in interesting surroundings.  There seemed to be a lot of regular customers in this place. 
  • Blenz, a Vancouver chain--Ordered a dark blend here. It was pretty good.
  • Tim Horton's--This was very good.
  • A concession stand in Stanley Park--I think this was the only time I ordered coffee and Tony didn't.  At the parks around our house, a concession-stand brew would be just drinkable; in Vancouver I was served a steaming hot cup made with Fair Trade beans.
  • A Korean coffee shop in the Robson Street shopping area--They only had Americano (hot water added to espresso)- no drip- I confirmed I do not care for that style. 
  • The cafe at Lynn Canyon Park--This coffee was surprisingly good (since it was at a park). It was also entertaining to watch the brewing process (they brewed each cup fresh with a vacuum coffee maker). It was a cool day. Overall this was my favorite coffee experience on our trip.
  • JJ Beans--This was the best tasting Vancouver coffee. I really enjoyed it.
  • The Keg Steakhouse--Average tasting decaf coffee.


  1. WOW! You did a lot of testing. Love it! This is FAB info for those of us who like coffee. :-)

  2. We are currently in love with Starbucks darkest blend. It's not bad!

    Love your little tour of the coffee in the Pacific Northwest. When in Portland I never go to Starbucks. Too many cool coffee places to be so mundane.

  3. AnotherQ-Thanks.

    Nancy-We could have easily had nothing but Starbucks for the whole week without trying too hard, but I'm like you...preferring to find the "cool" places.

  4. Terry is the coffee specialist in our family. I will only drink really GOOD coffee so seldom order it when out. Terry always tries the local shops when we travel since we get Starbucks all the time at both homes (remember, we're GOLD card members!) and he believes you should help the local guy. The Americano comment in your post made me laugh. Terry says, "why ruin good espresso by putting hot water in it. Just drink the espresso."

  5. I don't drink coffee, but Tim Horton's is probably the most popular coffee place in Canada. In fact, there were two locations inside the buildings at the large company I used to work at.

  6. dkzody-I know you and Terry are quite the Starbucks fans. To me espresso is something you sit and savor. It just doesn't seem right to drink it on the run, like I would a cup of coffee.

    Collette-I knew about Tim Horton's from other Canadian bloggers I read. I was excited to try some of their product.