Black Coffee Co-Op

Black Coffee Co-Op – 501 E. Pine St. Seattle, WA 98122

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~
  • Cycle accommodations: Available on street ~
  • Cafe setting: Spacious, daylight, ~
  • Interior seating: Good quantity and variety ~
  • Exterior seating: None observed ~
  • Pastry selection: Vegan – case was empty ~

Black Coffee CoopIMG_23882012The Cycle Cafe stumbled upon Black Coffee Co-Op.  Black Coffee is self described as, “…a worker’s cooperative, café, community space & infoshop in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Black Coffee serves specialty coffee & tea, vegan food & pastries, and delicious beer & wine. In addition, the Black Coffee Co-op hosts all sort of community events, maintains a small public library, and has a selection of independently produced literature…”

Black Coffee CoopIMG_23742012Black coffee can, without a doubt, be described as interesting.  Before entering, we did a bit of quick research by reading the paper flyers posted on the windows and gained a cursory understanding of Black Coffee.  We at least understood that it was a co-op of sorts.  As we jotted down descriptive attempts in our Field Notes book, we struck out a few terms like hipster, edgy, student culture, and in a bit of exasperation landed on “somewhat counter culture”.  As it turns out Black Coffee appears to have roots born out of anarchist philosophies.

Black Coffee CoopIMG_23872012The interior is large and spacious with copious amounts of natural light, which was a delightful indulgence on a dark dingy day in the deep of winter at the north 47th parallel.  The setting had an appearance of repurposed use with a happenstance character that may be considered befitting to the ideology of its foundation.  Worn wood floors were balanced against the tall exposed car-deck ceilings that are supported on heavy timbers.  There was a community of seating options from grandma’s living room, to window bar, to tables and chairs; all had some stretch of burgundy and wood tones.

Black Coffee CoopIMG_23862012“Vegan Grub” was advertised as the food source.  We could not help to think that vegan and grub can be construed to have an oxymoronic relationship, considering that a grub is a living creature.  May we suggest Vegan Fare as an alternate menu title.  Fare seems more befitting to the commune environment.  Apparently the food side of the commune had taken the day off because the pastry case was barren at noon.

Black Coffee CoopIMG_23832012We were kindly greeted at the espresso bar and made our order.  We asked a few questions regarding the Kuma brand coffee being served, specifically if it was 100% arabica.  Seattle based Kuma, is notably transparent in its “Direct Trade” purchasing practices, where over half of their coffee is direct trade sourced. The comrade playing barista did not know the answer but called up to the loft where the founding comrade who knew the answer was reposed.  100% arabic was called down from above.   The barista went in search of an espresso cup; he shuffled, sorted, moved, and finally alighted Black Coffee CoopIMG_23772012upon one that we can only assume chose us, as if it was Harry’s Potter’s wand.  He went about his work appearing to be whispering questions regarding timing to a comrade barista who whispered what appeared to be an answer back.  The espresso was delivered with a big smile, it was quite bubbly, the espresso crema that is.  The liquid content was high and the crema lacked stamina and richness.  The aroma was faintly pleasant and the flavor did not develop to the potential we believe the Finca Rosma single origin roast of Kuma coffee had to offer.

Black Coffee we were on the verge of withholding a rating at this time since you only narrowly qualified as a recommended cycling stop.  Because of your unique character we decided to give you a rating of one wheel.  Keep in mind that we only write up cafes that we recommend as worth a visit.  One of the key factors is that the pastry case was completely empty.  After putting in many miles cycling on the road, having a bit of “grub” or “fare” is necessary.  The espresso shot was not what we would consider well crafted and lacked the qualities of a good espresso or any sense of espresso tradition.  However, the environment was pleasant, the barista friendly, and the seating options copious.  Complimentary Wi-Fi was available.  There are accommodations for bicycle parking directly outside and the interior space can accommodate a peloton if needed.  The left of center feel makes it quite intriguing and a good getaway spot to gather to plan a social revolution.  We recommend that the people, in solidarity, pay Black Coffee a visit.  We wish you well and hope to see more communal focus on developing the craft of pulling a high quality espresso and serving it properly.

Black Coffee CoopIMG_23792012


*Paradoxical footnote: All the cafes we spend time to write about we recommend as destinations.  We provide the honest feedback and rating of the espresso experience because we are interested to help cultivate the best success for future visits.  Even though we may give the espresso experience a one wheel rating we can still love and recommend a visit to the cafe because of the overall character of place, amongst other qualities.

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