Compass Coffee

Compass Coffee – 1304 Main Street, Vancouver, WA

  • Espresso:  ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~
  • Cycle accommodations:  ~ Good, Observable, Some under cover
  • Cafe setting:  ~ Well proportioned, Good Daylight, neighborly
  • Interior seating: ~ Variety of options
  • Exterior seating: ~ Available & Covered
  • Pastry selection:~ Good Selection, homemade

This is the third in a series of trips made to Vancouver WA over the past months.   Driving up and down Main St. we passed by Compass Coffee and knew that we had to make it a destination on the next visit.   The third time was a charm, and we paid a visit on a quiet Sunday morning.

2013IMG_2610CompassHoused in a small single story brick building with a cedar shingle roof, Compass makes a quiet unassuming presence from the street.  Cafe tables are set out under the roof eve for dry cover in inclement weather.  The sidewalks are broad enough to allow the tables to pull out beyond the eve to capture some sun when it is out.  Bike parking opportunities are plentiful and easily observable from the interior.

2013IMG_2613Compass2013IMG_2620CompassThe proportions of the layout inside are very good with a square seating area hosting a number choices from couches and cafe tables, to a high seat at the espresso bar.  A large slab of natural timber formed the bar top and was the feature element of the space; the barista was the craftsman of the piece.  We were drawn to the timber and could not resist taking a 2013IMG_2629Compassseat at the bar.  Two cold drip brewing towers are the center piece of the back bar.  A dramatic progression from the top decanter, down a  spiral of glass distiller coils, and finally landing in the carafe is the journey the slow cold brewed coffee takes.  They were not in action today but we would love to see them at play.  When the weather warms up a bit more they will start up again to produce this highly concentrated and potent brew.

2013IMG_2627CompassThe pastry selections were one of a kind home baked goodies.   The assortment was modest and provided an appropriate variety of selection.  The savory biscuit called to us and we obediently ordered it.  Compass Coffee is a roasterie and serves their own creations.  Delirium is the go to espresso blend and Neryi Gaturiri a Kenyan peaberry was the single origin served.  “Coffee is Culinary” is Compass Coffee’s mission statement.  Living up to the mission you can choose to have your coffee brewed in the method of your choosing.

2013IMG_2611Compass2013IMG_2612Compass2013IMG_2615CompassBeing warmly welcomed to the espresso bar we were made comfortable.  Four or five people were in the cafe and a friendly couple visiting from the Tri-cities region of Washington State were at the cash register enjoying and providing some conversation.   Familiar banter was at play between the locals and assumed regulars.  Feeling right at home, the conversation was easily entered into.  Straight away, the impression of being a regular at the cafe rested upon you.  Yesterday evening, the first ever game night was held  and it apparently went on late into the night and is now under consideration to become a regular event at the cafe.  The levity of the morning continued and we learned the flowering business plan of a young woman who was sitting at the bar; sworn to secrecy, no more can be said about it.  For the record we vote for the longer and more poetic name, should the dream become a reality.  Brian the barista and part owner, demonstrated a knowledge and passion for his craft and educated us about the characteristics of the roasts being offered.  Delirium blend was our roast of choice to start with.   Directly after placing the espresso order we were served a traditional soda water prior to any other preparations beginning.  He was very intentional, concentrated, and precise with his methods.   Accompanied with a saucer and spoon, the cup was born swiftly to us, clean of spatter or smudge.  The crema was consistent with a reddish hue.  The aroma was warm and pleasantly foretold of the flavor.  The texture of the sips were rich and flowed wonderfully across the palette; delivering a progression of flavor that culminated with a sweetness and hints of cocoa flavor.  We tried the Gaturiri next, and of the two, we preferred the Delirium roast for an espresso.


Compass Coffee, we give you a five out of five wheel rating for our espresso experience with you.  The quality of preparation, adherence to tradition, appropriate priority to craft, and a proper presentation was warmly received.  We enjoyed the fun and friendly atmosphere provided by the barista, and that played directly through to the customers.   Continue the great work and we will definitely make a stop again.

2013IMG_2622Compass 2013IMG_2617Compass 2013IMG_2631Compass

*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.

Statistics recorded with Counterize – Version 3.1.3

Cortona Cafe

Cortona Coffee – 2425 E. Union St., Seattle, WA

  • Espresso:  ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ⨷  ~
  • Cycle accommodations:  ~ Good; Two U-Racks observable from inside plus over-flow space to lean cycles.
  • Cafe setting:  ~ Good neighborhood cafe
  • Interior seating: ~ Cozy entry level with loft seating
  • Exterior seating: ~ Uncovered
  • Pastry selection:~ Fresh waffles, average pastry assortment

2013IMG_2641CortonaIt was a foggy friday morning and we took the day off to extend the President’s Day weekend to a four day holiday.  We plotted out a 50 mile ride that included a loop around Mercer Island, a stretch along Lake Washington Boulevard past Seward Park, and a return route home including  one of our favorite cross town passages through the Central District.  Our destination stop was Cortona Cafe, which was exactly at mile forty of the ride.  We took no stops until we reached Cortona Cafe; making it a welcome site.  As we arrived the sun was burning the layers of fog away and casting a beautiful light onto the cafe.

2013IMG_2585CortonaCortona was founded in 2009 “with a desire to foster a place of reconciliation and community in Seattle’s Central District neighborhood…with a focus on empowerment, hospitality, and community building” as stated on their website.  Cortona, a hillside town in central Italy, is the namesake of the cafe.

Tucked into the corner of a newer development directly on the southwest corner of 25th Ave and E. Union Street, they offer a quality neighborhood presence.  Three timber frames contain the exterior seating area that has access to quality morning and mid-afternoon sun.  Exterior seating is without cover and makes it is a fair-weather offering only.   There is space for half dozen or so seats.  A small corinthian pedestal column, minus a few letters, resides at the border to advertise the cafe.  Two u-shaped bike racks are easily observable from inside.   If more space is required for cycle parking, the timber frames can do in a pinch.

2013IMG_2652CortonaOne enters directly on the corner of the building into a very cozy first level.  There is limited seating provided by benches. More seating is available in an upstairs loft that can be reserved for special occasions.  Two large divided light windows are the key feature within the space.  Free Wi-Fi is offered to encourage one to sit and stay a while.


2013IMG_2662CortonaWaffles are the specialty gastronomic draw at Cortona. The pastry case has an average variety of selections. Empanadas and hummus are also on the menu to satisfy those in need of savory.   The kitchen and espresso bar are efficiently packed in to the confines of the lower level.  Cortona uses Seattle based Herkimer Coffee as its roast of choice.  They also offer a variety of teas and other beverages.


2013IMG_2594CortonaJoe the barista, was dressed smartly in proper barista attire; black slacks, tie, and pressed shirt.  He apologized that it was casual friday and that he was not wearing his typical vest.  This added a quality touch to the espresso experience.  He said he was inspired from a trip to Italy and witnessing how baristas typically dress.  While preparing the espresso, Joe simultaneously managed pleasant conversation, readied a waffle, and provided a high level of customer service.  We were offered a soda water which we gladly accepted.

Cortona, we give you three out of five wheels for our espresso experience.   The espresso aroma was good.  The crema was consistent, had quality coloration, and sustained good stamina.  The flavor was appealing, provided a good progression, and finished with a lingering sweetness.  We appreciated the quality of service and that a soda water was offered as an accompaniment.  A quick tidy up of the cup to remove the spatter from the rim and the addition of a cafe spoon would have taken the presentation of the espresso to the next level.  We visited Cortona Cafe the previous week and found the espresso to be consistent with the exception that a soda water was not offered, however, the cup was tidied. In spite of the fact that the cashier on our first visit seemed to be having a bad day and serving customers was an inconvenience.  We  enjoyed our experience and will stop by again in the future.





2013IMG_2664Cortona 2013IMG_2660Cortona 2013IMG_2659Cortona

*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.

Statistics recorded with Counterize – Version 3.1.3