Day 3

November 8, 2007

     No matter how much I might like to, sleeping in has not been to successful of an endeavor on this trip so far.  I am out the door by 8 yet again with Victrola’s roastery/cafe as the first stop.

victrola outside

A hefty uphill bike from my new digs (nick’s hotel room floor) leaves me eager for coffee (the Tully’s offered with the continental just never seems to make it in my cup…).  I locked up my bike in front of Victrola and look on enviously…  While there are a good many hole in the wall café’s in this town, many places are just flat out huge and this is close to that.  Plenty of seating, high ceilings and good light give the café a wonderfully relaxed feel.  The bar is staffed by a gentleman named Chuck who proceeds to promptly pull me a potent little macchiato.  This is one of the most espresso prevalent macchiato of the trip so far with the thick body of fruity nature of the espresso really carrying through the milk.  After talking with him for a minute or two a few customers approach the counter, I attempt to make some room and while doing so toss about half of the drink on my leg before the demi smashes on the floor… definite cool points (sigh)  I slink away to a table as he helps out the folks at the counter.  As with most places in town so far that have a roastery and café combine, they provide you with a good view of what’s going on.  Large glass windows are in all of the walls separating the café from the roastery, this goes for the training/cupping lab as well.  Before I finish unloading my laptop and associated gear Tom has kindly replaced my macchiato.

victrola demi

We talk some more and he introduces me to Keith, the roaster for Victrola.  Good folks all around they humor my peskiness and even give me tips on a few new smaller roasterys up north to visit.  After plunking away on the laptop for awhile I go up for a double.  Wild, now I know how this carried so strongly in the mach… this espresso is thick potent and wild.  Orange marmalade maybe?  It was one of the most distinctly different so far.
From here I decide to head downtown towards the new Trabant location.  I precede going there with a quick stop at Elliot Bay Bookstore as recommended by a regular back in Chicago.  Wow… this is a beautiful bookstore for anyone looking to kill a few hours, very nice layout.  I however am a man on a mission so my stay is short.  I pick a book I had not seen before written by one of the folks we buy green from, Tim Castle, and head down to the basement café.  The food, nice, a touch pricey but its Pioneer square so I deal.  The cap however was, well.. it’s a good book store with decent food, we’ll leave it at that.

new trabant outside

Trabant’s new store has a great location downtown and for being open only a month seems to have hit the ground running with what it is trying to do.  The two guys behind the Bar, Tom and Z are fantastic coffee heads.  We hit it off immediately and geek about various coffees, clover settings and tamper styles.  Z makes me a cup of this fantastic Colombia COE llano grande that I am all to familiar with from a few months ago when we were offering it.  Spectacular, this and the Esperanza yesterday from stumptown re affirm my undying devotion to that fine tip of south America.  He also makes a cup of a daterra Brazil that is apparently naturally low in caffeine (according to Z, 1 cup of it is equal to 2 cup of a swiss water coffee).  I try a double from Tom that is very interesting.  Tons of blueberry, nice brightness and still a decent body.  I believe this was my first shot of 49th parallel.  Not bad at all.  Somewhere in the midst of this Lorrie McCullaugh and Philip Search wander in and even more madness ensues.  Lorrie and I catch up from last years USBC for a minute and talk about the new shop as well.

new trabant inside

It is set up as an art gallery of sorts, very minimal, white walls, high ceilings and few of a coffee shops traditional trapping… things like a POS, a large menu board or large drink sizes, very nice.  A new vintage lever machine Philip picked up is behind the bar and we slide around to tinker with that for a moment.  It has a curious small basket and uncanny ability to produce extremely sweet milk despite being a potential explosion threat (at least that is the rumor being circulated)  The bar is stocked with a 3 group Synesso and two Anfim grinders modified by Philip with special timers.  I did not get to play with them but Tom and Z had nothing but raves about the whole setup.
Next is Café Umbria.  They are also in Pioneer square and apparently have a roastery somewhere not to far away.  The café is laid out in a very classy Italian style and has the pastry/Gelato selection covered in more style than anywhere I have seen thus far.  Sadly as I feared, this meant that the double espresso I ordered was not going to be the focus of their attention.  The almond croissant was fantastic, the double was thin bitter and disappointing.  Oh well, for those in need Trabant is only a few blocks away anyways.
The next and last stop for the day is Seattle coffee works.  Sebastian, from behind the counter moving constantly, greets me as I enter.  This place is… very unique.  They have around 11 (?) grinders set up to pull espresso and it is all roasted locally.  The man is “in it for the love” defined.  We talk about the various roasters while he pulls me a shot of a single origin Costa Rica that they roasted themselves in the shop.  This is followed by him dialing in a shot of Kenya from Borogrove roasters for my pleasure.  They offer flights of espresso for those able to handle such a thing and will talk with you till the cows come home about coffee, again, for those able to handle such things.
I leave here fairly drained and ready for the hour or so of relaxation I have before Nick and I head out to Can Cans to eat and then hear the musical styling of a 15 year old Johnny Cash… the kid was truly amazing.  The day was great, now I rest.

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