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
It 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.
Cortona 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.
One 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.
Waffles 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.
Joe 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.
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*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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