Caffè Fiore

Caffè Fiore – Sunset Hill,  Seattle, WA  Three Wheel rating

April 22, 2012

It was at about mile 46 of our ride and we wanted to get 60 miles in and at least one or two more hill climbs.  Passing the north side of the Ballard locks we knew that Caffè Fiore rested at the top of NW 32nd Ave.  We decided to do the steady climb up to Sunset Hill.  It was about 10:30 AM on a beautiful Seattle morning and the coffee lovers were flocking to Fiore.  We were warm, winded and in need of an espresso. The location is a great spot on the corner of 85th Ave and NW 32nd St.  There is outdoor seating that receives sun when it is out. Indoors is cozy and warmly decorated.  It has a very inviting well lit atmosphere; busy and lively.

A bit beleagured we unwittingly stood at the wrong end of the counter until the barista motioned us over.  Upon ordering the espresso, he asked if it was for here?  My response, “absolutely”.  The barista gave a knowing smile and a nod replying, “how does one take an espresso to go?”.  He put in a good focused effort.  We shuffled to the cashier behind two families who were  deciding between scones or donuts.  At that point it was evident that the espresso would arrive prior to paying.  Perhaps it is compulsiveness, but recieving the espresso as fresh from the pull as possible is paramount.  The espresso was presented only with a saucer and spoon.  The crema was consistent and a bit thin; perhaps from the delay at the cash register.  Coloration was a slightly redish brown.  The aroma was rich and full.  The flavor was robust with a sweet follow through.   We enjoyed Caffè Fiore and think a little more attention to the full espresso experience will be well received.  Offering a seltzer should be considered or perhaps an espresso bisuit.

Fueled by the espresso we rode back down NW 32nd St and around to Golden Gardens and up the winding hill climb to the top where Caffè Fiore sets and then home to complete the 60 mile day.  We will return and recommend that you give them a try some time.  In addition to Sunset Hill there are locations in Queen Anne, West Seattle & Old Ballard.

Tutta Bella

Tutta Bella – Seattle, WA —   Five wheel rating

It is located at the SE corner Westlake and Denny on the plaza above Whole Foods.  Tutta Bella on Westlake is where my journey to document my exploration of espresso germinated earlier this year.  It was one of those rare moments when my wife, my daughter and I were all together on a weekday.   Events conspired that required us to drop off our car downtown for service and take my daughter to have a back brace fitted due to an injury sustained from gymnastics.  We finished the brace fitting and returned to pick up the car.  We were very hungry and decided to have a bite to eat out before picking up the car.  My daughter suggested Tutta Bella because it was just a few blocks away.  We did a little extra walking as consequence to an unintended detour of my navigation.  Regardless of the moans and groans received due to the minor pedestrian level misguidance, we arrived and it turned out to be a huge success that all enjoyed.

I had not yet started to catalog my espresso experiences and was highly impressed by the espresso served here.   “Traditionally “pulled” shot with a perfectly balanced creme” , is the menu description.  That struck me as a bold statement that must be put to the test.  Exercising my offhanded humor, I asked the waitress if the espresso truly has a perfectly balanced creme.  She stared at me blankly and baffled not appreciating the humor intended nor the question for that matter.  My teenage daughter blanched and my wife grimaced.  I recovered by just ordering the espresso and saying no more.  While the waitress apparently had no clue regarding espresso, the barista who pulled the shot did.  I recall thinking how much better it was compared to others I have had.  The creme truly was “perfectly balanced”.  It was exquisitely rich with a bounty of aroma and a flavor follow through to match.  This set the bar for me by which other espresso must aspire to.  Unfortunately I had not started documenting espresso yet and have no photo record of it.

Fortunately my daughter requested to go to Tutta Bella on her birthday and we did.   It was particularly busy when we arrived and there would be a 20-30 minute wait for a table.  Having gone for an intense hill climbing training ride earlier in day I was in need of an espresso to perk up my energy level.  I walked to the bar where the espresso machine lives.  I was glad to have the opportunity to see the barista in action.  She was fantastic, filling bar orders and taking the time to make my espresso experience personal and special.  I was impressed that she first served a glass of seltzer and laid out the saucer and spoon with a supply sugar prior to getting to business.  She then with great care and concentration carefully and perfectly packed the coffee and then using the traditional  machine pulled an espresso with a “perfectly balanced creme”.  My anticipation and high expectations for a repeat performance were fulfilled.  We had a wonderful dinner to follow.  I highly recommend Tutta Bella for a delicious espresso and “vera pizza Napoletano”.  I must try the 3 other locations to test consistency.  Tutta Bella receives 5 wheels so definitely give it a try.

The barista in action packing the shot.


The presentation