Cortona Cafe Andi Dean

If there's one thing that Seattle does well, it's coffee. Starbucks started here, and as of 2017, there were 27,339 locations all over the world. While we're not here to promote Starbucks, its very ubiquity is proof that our city knows how to please the masses, at least as far as coffee is concerned.

While most of us java lovers end up patronizing the chain for one reason or another (no other convenient options, unshakable craving for a Frappuccino®, etc.), there are a bounty of non-corporate shops here that are far more deserving of your patronage.

Each of us has our own favorite spot to grab a cup, sometimes many. It's not only about the quality of the brew (though this is the biggest deciding factor), but other individual characteristics that keep us coming back, whether it's a welcoming atmosphere, particularly adept and amiable baristas, groovy music piping overhead, incredible Wi-Fi (and a general lack of people around to share it with), delectable baked goods—or perhaps a perfect storm of a few or many of these things. Here are 15 coffee shops that we love the most, broken down by neighborhood, so that you have plenty of options to get a great cup of (not Starbucks) coffee no matter where you may be.

LEILANI POLK

BALLARD/CROWN HILL

The Dane

The idea behind the Dane was a "third place" (meaning not home or work) for people of all ages to hang out—kind of a community center, in the style of a European public house. Except, you know, with espresso. Celebrating its first birthday this March, the slick, blond-wooded, Scandinavian-inspired Dane in Crown Hill has come a long way since its opening, adding a kids' story hour (in the separate kids' wing), live music, and a weekly tamale pop-up shop. But it's best known as a work-from-homers' cafe, with numerous outlets and strong Wi-Fi. Beer taps rotate weekly, and they serve Stumptown Coffee (with extra-Instagrammable latte art), lovely pastries from Salmonberry Goods, and pretty little sandwiches—both Danish smørrebrød-style and regular two-pieces-of-bread style. It's easy to accidentally camp out there with your laptop all day: begin with coffee and a cardamom bun, have yourself a salmon smørrebrød when lunchtime rolls around, then start in on the beer list once it's time to knock off. MEGAN VAN HUYGEN


CAPITOL HILL

Analog Coffee

I come for the cups. The colored cups. They're beautiful. Others come to sit on the couches and read stacks of contemporary art comix piled up on the coffee table. Still others come to sit outside with a 12 ounce drip of Herkimer Coffee and watch the people wander down Summit Avenue on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The service is warm and casual, and the staff is always listening to music that's much more interesting than the kind you have at home. If you're hungry, head around the corner to their new cafe B-side Foods. The toast is fucking delicious. RICH SMITH


Cafe Argento

This April, Cafe Argento celebrates 14 years as a linchpin in Capitol Hill's 12th Avenue community, with its success owed to owner/local saint Faizel Khan and the Velocity Dance performers he keeps hiring. If you come into Argento more than once, odds are Faizel will remember your name, your order, and offer you some quirky-good advice. (He suggested my boyfriend get Botox for his 32nd birthday, which continues to make me cackle to this day.) Also, the food is cheap and savory. I'd like to eat their jalapeño cheddar bagel every day until I die. CHASE BURNS


Espresso Vivace

Throughout much of Western Europe, the way to consume coffee is through a quick shot or several sips of espresso—just enough to enjoy the flavor and get the caffeine without loading the body with unnecessary water, cream, and sugar. I always thought of this as snobbery (I am a proud American), until I tried Vivace's Northern Italian-style espresso. Any Vivace drink with espresso is strong, but without the acrid bitterness typically associated with an espresso shot. Even better, the Broadway spot eschews the pretentiousness of other Capitol Hill coffee shops, and even has a quiet room in the back that welcomes gig economy workers. There, you can savor a revelatory latte and still chow down on an Oreo covered in chocolate, American-style. (Located in South Lake Union, too.) SYDNEY BROWNSTONE


Porchlight Coffee on Capitol Hill. Elizabeth Crook

Porchlight Coffee

Unlike the rest of us losers, owner Zack Bolotin did the thing we all said we'd do in high school—opened up a cool coffee shop that sells records. The vinyl selection is modest but well-curated, and it's especially good for those who still read Pitchfork. Otherwise, the shop is a fastidiously clean, well-lit purveyor of Herkimer Coffees (the best), Mighty-O Donuts (why not?), and bagels all stacked up like a tower. Whatever you do, don't ask Bolotin about baseball, or else you'll never get out of there. RICH SMITH


CENTRAL DISTRICT

Cortona Cafe

Now surrounded by shiny new apartments, pot shops, and cafes with more laptops than humans, Cortona Café is a throwback to what the Central District may have been like before white hipsters moved in. It's not polished, or lavish, and there's nary a white subway tile or ironic neon sign to be found. Instead, what you get is good coffee, friendly baristas, and a parklet outside where you can watch young couples take their labradoodles and/or their children on walks. The menu is limited—there's a smattering of pastries, and you can order warm empanadas, vegan pop-tarts, or homemade waffles, with or without powdered sugar, fresh fruit, and—more decadent yet—espresso, chocolate, and whipped cream. Really, what more could you want? KATIE HERZOG


COLUMBIA CITY

Empire Espresso

Dim gold lighting, softly piping indie rock, and friendly baristas makes this corner shop the ideal setting for a relaxed Sunday afternoon typing away at your unfinished work. Empire Espresso recently switched their coffee source. Once, they almost exclusively served Kuma coffee, which we never complained about. Roughly three months ago, the shop started using beans roasted in co-owner Ian Peters's garage. The change is welcome. Don't miss happy hour here, when they take $1 off beer and wine, and serve up grilled cheese for $2.50. It's a perfect prelude to a movie at Ark Lodge Cinemas, which doesn't serve alcohol. STEVEN HSIEH


FREMONT

Vif Wine|Coffee

Vif is a glass jewel box at the top of the hill on Fremont Avenue. It's a tiny, square cafe, but the wall-to-wall windows flood it with light. Catching an afternoon sunbreak in Vif during the middle of winter can be downright religious. If you want to feel precious, order their brew made from Olympia Coffee Roasting Company's beans, flip through the design mags, and listen to the rich people next to you whisper about their problems. You'll giggle. Vif also makes a great quiche. CHASE BURNS


GREENWOOD

Makeda & Mingus

This secret little coffee spot is tucked around the corner from the main drag, at 78th and Greenwood. From 2008 to 2015, it was known as Makeda Coffee, until they started doing events at night and added beer and wine to the mix. Now it's called Makeda & Mingus, which is the name of owner Prashanthi Reddy's rat terrier. "Mingus is meant to describe the artistic aesthetic, to make it seem like it's open in the evening, too," says Reddy. "It's a jazz word." Lately, the cafe has featured live music, dance parties, crafting nights, and Indian food on Thursdays. During the day, though, it's super chill, with colorful '90s-esque wall art, chalk murals, and handmade Black Lives Matter posters. Coffee is from Seven Roasters, which once operated in the same space, and QED, both out of South Seattle, with pastries by Mighty-O Donuts and the nonpareil bakery Le Fournil. Really cute spot. MEGAN VAN HUYGEN


HILLMAN CITY

Tin Umbrella

As Rainier Valley's only coffee roastery, Tin Umbrella is carefully crafting international and local coffee blends while upholding the meaning of community in the South End. A local hot spot for work or leisure, you'll often find families and friends visiting around one of the few small tables inside or at the sidewalk park out front, and a new word of the day scribbled in different languages on the small chalkboard by the register. While they serve tasty treats (hello, sunrise tacos!), the real standout is the coffee—notably the Beach blend, dubbed "a top-secret blend of coffee, rainbows, and magic to warm your heart" that's a nod to neighboring Rainier Beach, not to mention a great medium-bodied afternoon delight. All proceeds from the blend support two local women-owned businesses (Beach Bakery and Tin Umbrella!). Don't miss their killer cold-brew out this spring/summer. KARA TIERNAN


INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT

Eastern Cafe

There isn't much outside of the Starbucks, Tully's, and Specialty's triad, all situated in a cluster in that giant office complex adjacent to the ID's Fifth Avenue transportation hub. But venture a few blocks down King Street and hang a right on Maynard Avenue, and Eastern Cafe awaits; its softly-lit two levels of loft-style seating is never too packed, while the air is always filled with the most delectable aromas of the sweet and savory crepes they serve alongside brews by local staple Lighthouse Coffee. The cups are about $1 less than you get elsewhere, it has a sort of hipster appeal without feeling pretentious, and the bohemian baristas take orders with laid-back ease and ready smiles. They also offer sandwiches, scrambles, and an assortment of baked goods, and serve beer (draft and bottles) and wine (by the glass), with happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. every day. LEILANI POLK


PIONEER SQUARE

Zeitgeist Coffee in Pioneer Square Elizabeth Crook

Zeitgeist Coffee

This coffee shop was one of the first classic Seattle cafes, with exposed brick walls, well-made coffee, beautiful cabinetry, and art. The interior is vaguely industrial, the tables are plentiful, and the people who work behind the counter are musicians and artists. First Thursday art walk is a great time to stop by—although any other time is great, too. Plus, if you're hungry, they have grilled sandwiches on offer, and if you're on your way to the Amtrak station (or killing time waiting for someone to arrive by train), it's only two blocks away. Plus, the seats in the front windows offer excellent people-watching opportunities. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE


U-DISTRICT

Sureshot Espresso

The capital of the Ave, the Evergreen State College of coffee shops, Sureshot is a grunge-era institution, a relic of yester- Seattle that somehow sojourns on, baffling us all. This place could only exist on the Ave—it's basically a living room for crust punks and hobos, everyone with their pit bulls and backpacks in tow. The coffee is solid, the pastries are vegan, and the soups are always dope. Bike cops routinely show up looking for spare-changing suspects. A philosophical debate group meets here weekly, and it's popular with chess players. When I lived in the U-District, I came here with my laptop every single morning for six years or so, and loitered all day long. I was never met with anything but soft-spoken, hippieshit kindness—especially from Will, who's worked there for a thousand years and is the gentlest soul I know. Support and protect Sureshot Espresso, god, please. MEGAN VAN HUYGEN


WALLINGFORD

Stone Way Cafe

Whether you're in the mood for live music, happy hour on the patio, or head down in a good book, Stone Way Cafe is really the best place in the neighborhood for all of the above. Their food is where it's at, with breakfast burritos in the morning (stuffed with crispy bacon, egg, veggies, and pico de gallo), and feel-good-you're-eating-your-greens dishes like the roasted butternut squash and kale tacos in the afternoon. The Wi-Fi is consistently fast if you're looking for a great place to hunker down and work, and they generally have four or five Ballard beers and a rotating kombucha on tap if you're looking for a low-key spot to hang with friends. Oh yeah, there's coffee, too. KARA TIERNAN


WEST SEATTLE/WHITE CENTER

White Center’s Dubsea Coffee Elizabeth Crook

Dubsea Coffee

Dubsea coffee is as much a community gathering space as it is a hidden gem serving velvety hand-pulled espresso drinks made with small-batch Counter Culture Coffee (or occasionally, when the stars align, Stumptown). It's a family-friendly place perfect for meeting friends or having a productive workday, and the amazing staff really take the time to get to know their customers and ensure first-timers feel at home. Make sure you come hungry—they have all Seattle's best pastries under one roof including Macrina, Mighty-O Donuts, and Molly's sandwiches and salads. Now serving gluten-free and vegan snacks, too. KARA TIERNAN