urban Coffee lounge

Urban Coffee Lounge – 9744 119th Way, Kirkland WA

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~
  • Cycle accommodations:  plenty of options ~
  • Cafe setting: Modern coffee lounge ~
  • Interior seating:  plenty of options including fire place ~
  • Exterior seating: large selection plus some limited under cover ~
  • Pastry selection: bountiful ~

With the STP behind us it was time to get out and have another ride, this time around the north end of lake Washington.  We rendezvoused and rolled out from the Fremont Bridge.  A marine cover of clouds created a low grey ceiling that loaded the air with moisture that collected on our jerseys and sun glasses.  Meteorologically, this was still considered a dry day.  The route would take us through  Kirkland, then to Bellevue, and then over Mercer Island and back home to round out a fifty-four mile loop.  Juanita Drive will take you straight into Kirkland from the north end of the lake, however, make sure to take a right on Holmes Pt. Dr. NE for a treat of a descent following the climb.  Low traffic and good pavement combined with some good turns makes this a favorite segment.  It turns into 76th place NE for a short climb back up to Jaunita Dr. NE.  From there put the hammer down and cruise your way towards Kirkland.  As you pass Juanita Beach Park, take a left  going east on 97th Ave NE; land marked by Spud Fish and Chips on the corner.  Take the first right onto NE 119th Way then look for urban Coffee lounge, set back on the east side of the street in the open plaza of Juanita Village shopping center.

We set “urban Coffee lounge” (UCL) as a destination, based on a recommendation from one of our readers.  A big thank you for the tip!  We spotted some cafe tables in the plaza and parked our rides there and made our way in.  The interior has a high quality urban edge to it.  An angular finished concrete bar cradles a warm heavy wood counter.  It was busy and the line moved quickly.  The cashier and barista were taking good care of the customers and were light and engaging with their manner.  We ordered an espresso, there were two options, Stumptown Hairbender and a single origin.  We have had a fair share of Hairbender recently and decided to risk the single origin.  A sumptuous display of food was on display to tempt our fancy.  There were any number of pastries that would have been a good choice, however, the dill and cheese scone won the day.  There looked to be a dozen or so different sandwiches available to round our a full compliment of gastronomic alternatives.

Peering over the counter and curious how the espresso was coming along, we spied that a tall cylindrical shot of soda water was prepped and in the ready to accompany the espresso.  The espresso was delivered with grace onto the counter and the barista looked very pleased to have put the soda water, spoon, and espresso together and all contained within a wooden saucer. It was refreshing to come to a place that has taken time to think about the composition of the espresso, it looked “marvelous”.

The aroma was good, the crema was thick, but had some large bubbles.  The flavor was good but the single origin was a bit too tart to provide a satisfying and lasting espresso flavor.  If time was not pressing a second espresso would have been in order.

urban Coffee lounge, you are definitely a recommended cycling espresso stop.  There is plenty of indoor and outdoor seating and space to park cycles, the atmosphere was truly a quality coffee lounge, the service was engaging and the presentation of the espresso was superb.  We knocked you a bit for the quality of the crema, but will need to go back to try your go to espresso blend rather than the single origin.  We give you four out of five wheels, in particular for properly served and presented espresso, well done!

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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.

Statistics recorded with Counterize – Version 3.1.3

Cosmonaut Coffee

Cosmonaut Coffee – 817 Division Ave, Tacoma WA

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷   ~
  • Cycle accommodations:  Bike rack down low, or the elevated deck ~
  • Cafe setting: Out of this world ~
  • Interior seating: neatly packed like a space capsule ~
  • Exterior seating: above the earth deck ~
  • Pastry selection: good pastries and sandwiches ~

We had planned a big day to wheel around the South Sound from Seattle, to Tacoma, across the narrows to Gig Harbor, then to the Southworth Ferry and back to Seattle; 107 miles and 7,250’ of quality rolling and climbing awaited.

Hugging Puget Sound for the majority of the route, we were treated to breathtaking beauty, and quiet roads on an early Sunday morning in June.  This ride was one, regardless of the hurt the climbs dealt out, that placed us into an orbit of cycling euphoria.  It included steep climbs, exhilarating descents, and ribbons of back road tranquility.

Along the way there were a few moments of urban turbulence when grinding through Burien, Des Moines, and the Port of Tacoma.  We had two extra-terrestrial sightings.  First, a fist shaking and presumed toothless, pick-up truck driving male, ranting out some redneck wisdom.  The second, at roughly 10:00 AM, was a dog walking, PBR tallboy sipping, smoke dragging, muumuu clad female.  Dropping a chain on the rise of the narrow, heavily trafficked, Elle St Bridge provided the coda of the gritty urban segment of the ride and also the prelude to our mid-ride docking at Cosmonaut Coffee.

IMG_3333IMG_3352Located directly opposite of Wright Park on Division Ave in Tacoma, Cosmonaut Coffee, formerly Satellite Coffee (click here for the story), provided an excellent drop out of hyperdrive.  It was quirky, fun, and provided an excellent cycling espresso stop.  The space theme was marvelous.  We docked our rides on the upper landing bay and entered through the triple air locked door fitted with a delightful custom brass porthole.  Within the espresso chamber we were greeted by the sensory lifting scents of coffee.

IMG_3351The tight quarters inside the coffee station were fancifully themed for the space traveller.  Narrow counters with lollipop bar stools and  fixed benches were the seating choice; not luxurious but perfect scale for the outpost.  The head was equally compact, equipped with a “stink-o-meter” to monitor air quality, and a velvet print of the Enterprise to appease lingering stargazers.

The espresso bar was a neatly engineered unit with fully powered equipment.  The barista was friendly and engaged her customers while managing the helm and the till.  Food rations were good; pastries, sandwiches and more IMG_3342filled out the compliment.  The Veggie-fu sandwich from Molly’s Grown to Eat was excellent. We enjoyed finishing our sandwiches on the deck that looks over historic Wright Park, that has recently received restorative updates and  improvements to further the longevity of this delightful urban respite.  The masterplan and updates were designed by Site Workshop.

Cosmonaut Coffee, we definitely recommend you as a cycling espresso stop and give our espresso experience a four out of five wheel rating.  The atmosphere was delightful, the barista was engaging, and the espresso was excellent.  The only items that took you out of the highest orbit were, the crema did not quite attain a velvety perfection and the soda water was served in a plastic cup.  We hope to try the 6th Avenue ship that boasts a cycling roll up service window.

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Fully refueled, we launched again on our journey, enjoying sites such as Stadium High School and the beautiful housing stock along N Yakima Ave..  We made our way to the deep space portal of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  The cycling lane was excellent, particularly when compared to the death defying wormhole of the old bridge.  Our journey took us through beautiful Gig Harbor and onto scenic Crescent Vally Dr. NW.  Crescent Valley Dr. has a few thigh roasting climbs that are just a warm up to the even more punishing ascents on Banner Rd SE.  After being beaten up by the hills, we made a quick stop to check the time and ferry schedule. We discovered we were 8 miles away with only 20 minutes until the next ferry departed.  If we missed this one, there would be a full hour to wait for the next one and family obligations loomed heavily.  We hopped back into our cockpits and launched with our beleaguered legs down the line of Banner Rd.  It was straight and riddled with ups and downs.  From the apex of the first climb and in the line of site was a long daunting climb ahead of us.  Gritting teeth we hammered down the descent to gain as much speed and momentum to attain escape velocity from the impending black hole that would suck the life from our legs and any hope of reaching the ferry in time.  We pressed on and called upon Scotty to give us just a little more as we crested into a low grade mile long ascent to reached the right turn onto Sedgwick Rd., which would provide a gravitational slingshot to the ferry terminal.  Scotty delivered but the demand had our hearts jumping out of our chests.  As we sped downhill to our goal, a doe followed by her fawn sprung into the road causing an abrupt halt and narrow miss of calamity.  Picking it up again, we raced to the dock where the workers had just clipped the safety netting across the loading bay and were giving the go signal to the Captain.  We raced to the line and pleaded our case to let us on.  The workers said it would rely on the Captain’s approval and they radioed up the request.  Like dogs at the dinner table we arched our heads upward to the helm with wide longing eyes.  The Captain gave the thumbs up and we were allowed to board.  The ferry ride was a welcome respite to our knackered legs that still needed to press on an additional 15 miles on the far side of the ride.  The sprint to the ferry was exhilerating and forged a fond memory to an extremely enjoyable day of riding.

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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.

Statistics recorded with Counterize – Version 3.1.3