Repast Bakery and Cafe

Repast Bakery and Cafe -1418 31st Ave S, Seattle, WA

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~
  • Cycle accommodations:  Limited, but observable from inside ~
  • Cafe setting:  Very small ~
  • Interior seating: Limited tables ~
  • Exterior seating: A bench and a cafe table, not covered~
  • Pastry selection: Delicious, freshly baked ~

Following a turn around Mercer Island we headed south to Seward Park and, with another week gone by, the glory of the cherry trees in full bloom along Lake Washington Boulevard was giving way. The cherry blossoms had peaked and cast petals into the strong wind, which dusted them about like snowflakes.  One had to be careful to not take one down the wind pipe.  We climbed out of the park and made a route to the Mt Baker neighborhood via 31st Ave S. and made a stop at Repast Bakery and Cafe.

Repast is located in a small storefront on 31st ave South, which is the main stretch of the Mt Baker town center.  We decided to stop to see what they had to offer.  Inside is quite small; a few tables and a counter. There was a very busy baking kitchen in the wings.  Outside there was a bench and a cafe table to enjoy a seat in the fresh air.  We found a parking spot for our bike next to a sweet ride tricked out in primary colors.

An awareness of how to serve a proper espresso was not present, we enjoyed ours in a cappuccino cup. The espresso received no accolades and we give it a one out of five wheel rating.  However, the choice of baked goods was quite nice, both sweet and savory freshly baked goods.  A small turkey and cheese croissant coaxed us to buy it.  It was quite delicious and perfectly apportioned.  We are making Repast a recommended cycling cafe when in the Mt. Baker area due to the delicious freshly baked goods available.

 

*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

Hotwire Online Coffee House

Hotwire Online Coffee House – 4410 California Ave. SW, Seattle WA

  • Espresso:  ⨷ ⨷ ⨷   ~
  • Cycle accommodations:  ~ Can lock to fence, observable in patio
  • Cafe setting:  ~ Cozy
  • Interior seating: ~ Limited, 4 computers for internet access
  • Exterior seating: ~ Covered patio area
  • Pastry selection:~ Average selection, Mighty O donuts

IMG_2820The forecast called for 25 mph winds, heavy rain, hail. and thunderstorms.  Determined to go for a ride, the fenders were strapped on, rain jacket was donned in preparation.  The early morning offered forty degree temperature, dry skies, and strong winds that dried the pavement of the previous days of rain that seemed to have been falling unrelentingly.   Conditions proved less than predicted.  Sprinting into the wind on the flat route along the waterfront, we spied Bertha, the largest deep bore tunneling machine in the world.  Berthawas being staged and prepped to rip earth asunder to create Seattle’s new tunnel that will replace the aging Alaskan Way viaduct.  Chiefly, the route was flat, in spite of the fact, the steady wind provided fiercesome resistance.  Rounding the turn onto Harbor Avenue, the wind turned from foe to friend and propelled us upward as we peeled off to make the climb up California Ave SW and to Hotwire Coffee, the mid-ride espresso stop.

IMG_2821 IMG_2823Hotwire is nestled next to the West Seattle post office and is deposited into a tiny brick building that appears to be a former gatehouse of a building complex with a previous life.   Our historical investigation ended with this supposition and begs for further research.  Ironwork fencing encloses a quaint covered courtyard that one enters through to gain access to Hotwire.

IIMG_2822nside, one steps immediately from the door to the espresso bar to place an order.  They have neatly packed the coffee house with a bevy offerings including, food, beverages, tea, coffee and mexican mochas.   If in a hurry, Textwire can be used to fire your advance order in so it is ready when you arrive. Natural brick provides a warm and textured backdrop to the barista, busily brewing beverages.  There is a sliver of high counter with two bar stools, four computers lined up along the window, and a two seat cafe table, if you want to linger a bit.  Red tubular glass  table lamps cast a glow within the space.

IMG_2944The cashier was buoyant and full of personality that lit up the place.  She took our order and delivered it to the barista who expertly pulled an espresso.  This was our second visit to Hotwire and the quality of espresso was good on both occasions.  The aroma was rich, the crema, while not pristine, had good depth.  The flavor of the coffee was excellent with a robust satisfying character and sweet chocolaty finish.  We were provided a splash of soda water on request.  The presentation of the espresso was different each time, it came once with saucer and spoon, another time just the cup, and a third time in a small cappuccino cup.

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Hotwire we enjoyed our visit very much and will certainly return for another delicious espresso.  Bravo to you!  We give you three out of five wheels for the  espresso experience.  The flavor was very good and certainly will make for the best espresso based beverages.   The service was wonderful.  The crema had some minor outcroppings of bubbles and needs a touch more fullness to provide an exquisite accompaniment to the delicious flavor.

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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

Paris Roubaix 2013

Paris Roubaix 2013 – It was an exciting finish with Fabian Cancellara out maneuvering and out sprinting Sep Vanmarcke at the finish.  Vanmarcke stepped into the arena with “Spartucus” and put up a great show.  Fending off a powerful attack by Cancellara, Vanmarcke showed what he was made of by not only hanging on to Cancellara’s wheel but taking the front heading into the penultimate stretch of cobbles.  Was this the move that made it a close finish? or was or was it the move that wicked away the legs he needed to hold victory.  It was a great show by both cyclists that kept us on the edge of our seat.

TCC 2013 Paris-Roubaix1

Toward the latter stage of the race Cancellara dropped back to the team car, making one wonder if he was in trouble.   Perhaps it was a mind game to demoralize his contenders; he picked them off and made his way to the lead group and ultimately to the top step of the podium.  Through the final kilometers it may have appeared that Cancellara was the cat playing with the mice, but Vanmarcke made a clear statement that he was in it for the win, as he and Cancelllara took turns at the point position. Taking the lead going into the velodrome seems to have put Vanmarcke at the disadvantage and allowed Cancellara to come off the bank and sprint to a bikes length win.

TCC 2013 Paris-Roubaix finish

Tour de Blast 2012

Tour de Blast 2012

This is an essay recounting my personal journey riding the Tour de Blast 2012.

The Tour de Blast is an annual out and back journey to the Johnston Ridge Observatory that overlooks the post apocalyptic blast zone of Mt. St Helen, in Washington State.   At 82 miles (132 km) distance and over 8,000 vertical ft (2,438 m) of climbing, it is known for both breathtaking beauty and potential for bone chilling conditions.

I am publishing this essay on the heels of the 2013 Milan – San Remo race, which delivered epic and punishing conditions upon the riders over its 185 miles (298 KM).  True grit  and athletic prowess is defined by the racers hardened enough to push at top speeds through the snow, the wet, the winds, and the freezing temperatures.  This personal tale, of the Tour de Blast 2012, is no comparison to the testament of will over conditions the riders of Milan – San Remo 2013 exhibited, however, it provided me with a tiny glimpse into that world and gave me a true level of respect and admiration for the “hardman” characteristics of professional cyclists.

This is a story of a weekend warrior’s challenge to confront a bit of post traumatic fear while gaining appreciation and respect for a sport by suffering and enjoying the conditions nature put forth on the course.

The month prior I had a significant crash during the Seven Hills of Kirkland charity ride.  Caught off guard by a sudden increase in rain and a 15% -18% descent, I had too much speed and lost my brakes.  My choice, in an attempt to stay upright, was to try to make a 90 degree turn directly at the bottom of the hill at a tee intersection.   Upon crossing a wet paint stripe I suffered sudden failure that sent me hurtling across pavement and into oncoming traffic.  I escaped becoming road kill and was  fortunate to walk away from the crash with with fourteen stitches and a banged up and bruised right side.  My body healed, but my nerve and stomach to take descents, particularly in wet conditions, was a lingering casualty of the crash.

As the Tour de Blast event day approached, my confidence was low and my nerves were high.  I seriously doubted that I could do it.  I told my riding companions, Mark and Pat, that if it was forecasted to rain, to count me out.  Rain was eminent, Mark and Pat bolstered my confidence.  Reluctantly, I told myself I needed to get back on the horse, and with anxiety disguised, I confirmed that I was still in.

We drove to the event the night prior.  Rain was falling steadily and I hoped it was dry down south, in the blast zone.  It was late afternoon and Pat rolled up to my house in his beautifully restored yellow VW Westfalia camper bus.  My bike fit perfectly in the protected comfort of the cab; no complaints on my part.  He turned the key and the bus fired up with the clearly identifiable ping of a VW motor.  We were off to fetch Mark and his bike near Pike Place Market.  The steady rain clogged the traffic headed out of town on a late Friday afternoon.  The rain came down heavily.  We loaded Mark’s Rivendell Ramboulet on the rear rack and were were on our way up stream.

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If you have ever ridden in the front seat of a VW bus then you know what it feels like to be out front and in traffic.  My overly stimulated nerves had my mind convinced that I was sitting on the front bumper ready to crash into anything we were close to.  The bus hurtled down the highway at its top speed of 59 MPH.   Heavy raindrops splattered on the windshield.  Working overtime, the wipers could not keep up.  The lights of passing cars and pumping brakes lights diffused into psychedelic patterns inside the bus and across my retina.  It seemed that I was in a nervous trance, and the second to last stanza of “Truckin”, by the Grateful Dead, looped continuously in my mind.  If the song is unfamiliar, the words of the stanza are:

“Sometimes the lights all shining on me
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it’s been”

Perhaps it was a coping mechanism or a foreshadow of the ride to come.   We buzzed along the highway through the rain and lights, ultimately landing at the Toutle River Resort, where Mark’s mother owns a weekend getaway trailer spot.  The cold and wet conditions made for a miserable welcome.   Sleep did not come easily and when it did it was only in short stints.

We woke early and dressed, applying layers of clothing with the intent to stay warm and dry.  I had bought a thin clear Castelli rain jacket that was on the sale rack at one of the local bike shops.  It was a shadow of a replacement for the Rapha rain jacket that had been shredded on the pavement during my crash.   Concerned about overpacking my jersey pockets, I deliberated whether to include my unfashionable bright yellow commuter jacket.  After considerable effort, I was able to roll it tightly enough to stuff in one of the rear pockets of my jersey.  We cleaned up the trailer, packed the bus, and rolled onward to Toutle Lake High School, the starting point of the ride.  The rain changed from a light drizzle to steady drops as we pulled into the parking lot.

IMG_0093Skipping the pancake breakfast we made our way to pick up our numbers.  Conditions were 43 degrees, wet, and poor visibility.  The promise of the warm shower that would be waiting at the finish already sounded good.  My nerves were racing and I was eager to get moving to blow off pent up energy.

The first 10 miles was a fairly constant low grade climb with some rollers mixed in. The rain came steadily and it took about an hour before the moisture began to overcome the rain booties I was wearing.  I felt the water trickling in around the edges of my feet.  The only function the booties played now was to shield the wind.  The ride photographer was miserably stationed just a few miles from the start, this was good because not many made it that far with  a smile.  The thin little rain jacket was holding up pretty well and seemed to be keeping me dry.

As we rolled along, my nerves began to settle.  I was expecting to see more riders on the road.  We set a good pace and at about mile ten, as the grade increased, Pat dropped off. He had just been cleared to ride following an injury and was not in shape yet to keep up.  We hated to leave him behind, but knowing that he would only go as far as Elk Rock, we had to sustain a rate that would take us up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory and back.

The course is divided into three levels, beginner, intermediate and advanced.  Beginner is 33 miles with 900 feet of elevation gain and turns around at Hoffstadt Bluffs.  The intermediate course is 54 miles and 3300 feet of climbing and turns around at Elk Rock.  The full course covers 82 miles and 8000 feet of elevation gain and tops out at the Johnston Ridge observatory, which on a clear day holds a phenomenal view of the Mt. St Helen blast zone.

We bypassed the rest zone at Hoffstadt bluffs and continued to climb to Elk Rock.   The temperature was dropping and the rain continued with an unrelenting onslaught.  The thick atmosphere enveloped everything and obscured the wide and beautiful views across the lower alpine landscape.  From beyond the mist came the trill of elk whistling within the wooded wilderness.  It provided an eery soundtrack to accompany the cold gray rain.

Climbing the long grade kept the core warm with exertion. This was not the same for the extremities, which were soaked through.  A naturopathic general anesthetic effect of the wet combined with cold was taking effect.  I was not  physically fatigued, but could feel the strain of the wet and cold siphoning my energy.  The rain descended upon us with a relentless fury and the atmosphere thickened.  For every 500’ we climbed, we were rewarded by loosing a degree in temperature.  Mother-nature unwaveringly meted out punishment to all the do-gooder charity riders and weekend warriors alike.  Most were ushered back down from Elk Rock like logs in a sluice.   We pressed on blissfully undaunted by the conditions.

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Marking the apex of the first 27 miles and nearly continuous climb was the appropriately named Elk Rock.  The wind blew sharply across the ridge and bit into us as we dismounted our bikes.  We were welcomed by the parka clad volunteers doling out bananas and other goodies to nourish the intrepid two wheelers.   A huddle of cyclists and volunteers encircled a small fire pit that heartily blew smoke in all directions.  The fire was like a harpy though, beckoning you onto the rocks.  It seduced you to stay and try to warm at its edge, however, with every second that ticked by, the warmth, that had built up over the 27 miles of climbing, began to dissipate.  We snapped ourselves out of the trance, made one more salute to the porta-potty colonnade, and mounted our bikes once again. As we departed, there were more riders turning left to the return route than right turn toward the 7 mile descent to Coldwater ridge.

As the descent began my nerves heightened with the prospect of high speed mixed with copious amounts of precipitation that coated every surface and filled every void.  As we picked up speed, the cold swiftly gripped us with a ferocious clutch.  Mark knew I was nervous and braked with me as I slowed the pace as the descending grade increased.  He asked if I was okay.  I assured him that I was and urged him to press on without me.  Within seconds the mist swallowed him up and I was alone to face the cold and the demons of fear that swirled inside of me.   My fingers ached with numb, my toes vanished, and my feet IMG_0094became blocks while my body shivered.  I forced myself to move to avoid becoming frozen into a position and unable to react if needed.  The drive train mocked me as I circulated the pedals to create movements that did not engage forward motion.  I slowly allowed myself to pick up speed, and gained a churlish reward of increased intensity of cold due to the wind chill.  The water was so think that I could barely read the speedometer.  The smaller readout telling me distance was a hopeless effort.  I tried to calculate how long I would need to endure the unscrupulous descent.  I knew it was approximately 7 miles.  My nerves continuously checked my speed back to 25 mph, to make an excruciatingly slow descent.  I fumbled in my mind to develop the middle school formula to factor speed and distance into time.  Rounding errors included, I arrived at at a seemingly brief 17 minutes and less if I could increase my speed.  I reckoned in my mind that my body could endure this sadistic infliction.   However, my mind would not allow my tormented fingers to release the attenuation of my speed.  I slowed to less than 20 miles an hour.  Coaxing myself, like an enabler, to eek out just a few more miles per hour, was marginally successful.

Under the power of suggestion, my cheeks iced over as I read the sign telling me I was in the Coldwater Creek vicinity.  I had no idea how far I had travelled or for how long, I was only certain that the intensity of the cold gripped me further.  I reminded myself to focus and to force my body to move to allow for circulation.  I longed for the 9 mile ascent to the Johnston Observatory.  My solitary ride continued.  There was no scenery to behold, just gray, spray and the whistle of elk to accompany the whir of the free wheel.

IMG_0096As the road began to flatten, I breathed with relief, the climb up hill should start soon.  At the opposite side of the road was a car and a person wrapped in a mylar blanket.  A bike was being loaded in.  Upon reaching the interchange of the Coldwater Creek observatory,  the descent to my dismay continued for what seemed to be an eternal corkscrew turn that took every ounce of my concentration to navigate.  It seemed to go on and on.  I knew it must end, but it did not relent.  I did not think I could endure this much longer, but I knew I must be close to the most welcome climb I could imagine.  At last the road stretched out ahead and the start of the incline was there.

I began to pedal again.  My legs were two fallen logs, saturated and heavy.  I pumped them furiously, hammering pedal strokes, trying to regain body heat and circulation.  My handle bars and brakes breathed as I release the death grip.  Straightening my back and rotating my arms and shoulders, I tried to revive my circulatory system.  I stood to pedal out of the saddle; I came to the realization that everything other than my belly button had gone numb.  Fumbling, I reached for my water bottle with concentration. Instructing my hands with deliberate and direct commands to avoid dropping it with the grasp of my numb fingers.  I continued to drive myself hard, but knew I needed to temper the pace and fell into steady cadence.  I imagined the Johnston observatory, and welcomed the thought of entering the doors of the building and warming myself, perhaps washing my face with warm water.

Pedaling on, I noticed one rider, then two, descending quickly in the opposite direction.  I marveled at the speed and confidence they took the plunge with.  It gave me hope that I too could reach the midpoint and start the return journey.

The math was a bit easier this time.  With approximately nine miles to go, I could be at the top in under an hour.  Through dense conditions, I could see two riders ahead of me.  I set my mind that I would catch them; to have the sense that I was not alone.  The gap was closed ever so gently.  One rider rode a cantilevered bike and he sprung up and down as he pedaled.  A few more riders sped down, back toward the finish line.   Temperatures lowered as the climb continued.  It was cold enough now that with each exhalation a plume of condensation formed with every breath.   I pressed on and was now within 100 meters of the pair in front of me.  I could hear them talking to each other, intermittently offering words of encouragement between suffering breaths.   Now ten meters behind them, we were just a mile or so from the top.  As I passed them we offered encouraging smiles, but wasted little energy on words.

Snow banks formed the shoulder of the road and the cold reached deeper into me.  Rain transformed into heavy chunky snow flakes that landed hard on the face, sticking, dripping, and running from my face, down my neck, and into my core.  I crested the last turn and thought I would be headed to the warmth of the observatory.  Cruelly that was not to be.  Hunkered under a tent, the volunteers gave a rousing and welcoming arrival with great salutations of encouragement and statements that “you made it”.  The cheers, however, rang a reminder to me of an inspirational speech I recently heard from mountaineer Ed Visteurs,who has climbed without supplemental oxygen, all peaks above 8000 meters.  The mantra Ed shared was, “getting to the top is optional, getting back home is not.”   As encouraging as the cheers were, the cruel irony was that I was only half way, and the first descent back was three miles longer and consistently steeper than the plunge from Elk Rock that initially sucked the life out of me.

I parked my bike, struggled to hoist my numb leg over the saddle and placed what I thought was my foot on the ground.  I turned around to the tents that housed the shivering and smiling volunteers serving food and drinks.  In a haze, I walked woodenly toward them, having to consciously direct each step forward to maintain balance.  Shivering, I looked blankly at them, while I ate something.  Rigidly, I looked around for Mark, but did not see him or any other riders for that matter.  Of the few riders I saw making the return trip, I did not recognize any as Mark.  I assumed I must have just missed him.  As I stood shivering and staring blankly at the people in their dry clothes, a nice women uttered something that I could barely understand.  After she repeated it a fourth time, and perhaps through an interpreter, I understood that she was asking me If I wanted to warm up inside of the bus.  I nodded, turned stiffly and penguin walked over to the doors.  They opened and I entered the steamy interior.  There was Mark.  We smiled and commiserated about the suffering.  While I was certain it must be warm inside the bus, my body did not feel it.  I stripped off the thin saturated little rain jacket and hung it with the hope it would dry.  I took off my gloves and rung them out.  There were maybe eight or nine people in the bus.  No one seemed eager to leave.  The dispatch radio squawked with banter between stations.  I could hear multiple calls being put out for sag wagon support and extra vehicles to pickup riders.  There was a report that came out in an urgent tone stating that they had two more riders suffering form hypothermia who needed to be picked up.  At that moment I remembered that I had packed my yellow commuter jacket and was gloriously thankful that I did.  I unrolled it and fortunately it was completely dry.  The driver put out the offer asking who needed a ride back down.  A few hands went up.  Mark and I looked at each other and decided that we would try for the finish.  Mark, who had been in the bus longer than I had, was ready to go.  I told him that I would linger a bit longer and that he should go on.  We bid each other farewell and good luck.

After a few more minutes, I decided that I was not going to warm up much more and put on my jacket and prepared to leave.  I recalled the words of Ed Visteurs again and did a mental and physical check to make sure I thought I was fit to ride.  With renewed incentive, as well as fear of the longer decent, I mounted my bike and pedaled for the return route into the bitingly cold 35 degree air.

There were a few more riders headed to the top as I started the descent.  I did not recall seeing any more from that point on.  The added layer significantly helped to stay the cold and repelled the heavy wet snow falling.  I was determined to allow my self to go faster and did to some degree, but still had a mental block that kept my pace slowed.  The pair of riders I had passed on the climb to Johnston Observatory raced past me, with a demoralizing whoosh, whoosh.  I did not care, I kept me speed checked.  As expected, the cold crept in drawing out any shred of warmth that I may have been protecting.  Again, I challenged myself  to confirm that I should continue on.  I justified it by telling myself, if Shackleton could walk poorly outfitted for days across uncharted arctic territory, than I could certainly endure this degree of suffering.

My body shook with the cold at times.  I moved my hands, shuffled my shoulders, and faintly pedaled to encourage circulation, but I was still locked into position and fearful to release my grip of the bars. “I can endure this”, I repeated over in my mind and I allowed myself to increase speed, but still checked below 30 MPH.  Once again, the cold seemed particularly acute at Coldwater Creek; my body had chilled and my hands ached and stiffened.  I pedaled hard through the transition from descent to climb to regain circulation.

Visibility improved but the rain and the cold did not relent. In the distance the extent of climb toward Elk Rock was visible.  There were still miles before me to climb.  My derailleurs  groaned with distress as I shifted.  Substantial layers of road grit coated the drive train.  I had no desire to linger on this ascent and pressed a hard cadence, knowing that after Elk Rock the climbing was over.  Once again I reached the familiar pair of cyclists, we exchanged some friendly words and I rode with them briefly before pressing on.  We laughed at ourselves and the conditions, and longed for the warm shower at the finish line.

Rounding the turn at the approach to Elk Rock, I could see that the disbanding support camp was was not as cheerful as when I previously saw them. The food was mostly gone and there was not a batch of energy drink prepared.  One of the volunteers handed me the mix and welcomed me to make a personal batch, which I did to replenish my system with electrolytes.  The fire was still going and I stood by it under the delusion that I would be warmed.  My only reward was smoke in the face.  Abandoning this prospect, I moved out quickly not wanting to linger a second longer.  I initiated the descent to lower land.  The rain began to lessen and I allowed myself to increase speed to some degree.  I could feel the temperature rising.  It was by no means warm, but the difference between 37 degrees and 40 degrees had a substantial impact on my constitution.  I could see a patch of blue sky in the distance.  The clouds were separating and the rain diminished.  As the grade leveled and the rain dispersed, my desire to finish increased with fervor.  Pedaling as hard as I could sustain, I put the hammer down for for the next twenty miles, eager to complete this test.  The promise of a warm shower was the carrot that sustained my pace.  I caught up to a man and a woman who had rocketed past me earlier on the descent.  They were noticeably spent and struggle to climb the small rollers.  Farm houses and homes increased in frequency, signaling civilization was at hand.   I imagined a cheering party to victoriously greet the weary riders as they completed the full 82 mile ride.  The High School was visible in the distance.  I increased my pace again.  As I turned into the parking lot, there were no cheering supporters, no music, no reveling riders.  There were just a few cars, and the very welcome site of the yellow VW bus.  Pat was my greeting party and welcomed me to the finish.  He helped me off my bike and said that Mark had just finished his shower a little while ago.  Wearily, I groped for my bag of dry clothes, towel, and toiletries.  I sighed heavily and asked, “which way to the showers, because I am looking forward to the feel of warm water.”   Pat smiled wryly and laughed, and said that they were just through he doors about 40 feet away.  As I hobbled off, he called out saying, “by the way, there is no warm water!”  This was the cake.  I headed in shrugging it off, determined to get cleaned up.  It seemed to take me forever to peal off the clammy cold gear that was saturated through.  The locker room shower put out a pitiful volume of spray, completely antithetical to the day.  The drizzle struggled to make impact on the thick layers of road grime on my face and body.  Pat came in to see if I had gotten lost.  I was just putting on my last sock.  I was being slow and deliberate, not wanting any of my clothing to get wet.

We climbed into the bus again, and the engine gave the familiar VW ring and we were  bidding the epic weather and ride of the Tour de Blast 2012 goodbye.  My nerves were calm now and the front seat of the of the bus seemed a bit further from the road than on the trip in.  I could feel the exhaustion setting in and my body craved calories.  I had a longing for fried chicken, which I had not had for years. We stopped at the Country Cousins Restaurant in Centralia, WA.  I knew that they served comfort food and that is what we needed.  We entertained ourselves by retelling the tale of the ride over and over again.  Describing the pain and suffering endured, the mental games to stay focused, and the self vigilance to monitor our physical capacity to endure the journey.  These were not conditions that I would wake up on a Saturday morning and decide, it was a good day for a ride, however, I do have the satisfaction of saying I did it, I survived, and it was an epic tale for me.

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I can honestly say it was the most physically grueling experiences of my life.  Enduring this ride helped me to overcome the fears spawned by a major crash and it grew my passion to continue with the sport.  My appreciation for the pros at all levels increased. They take on conditions of much greater extreme, at dauntingly high speeds, and in tightly packed competition.

These are not official statistics, but I understand that of the riders who registered, only half showed up, and of those who showed up only a small fraction made the compete trip.   Tour de Blast is known for its cold weather challenge; 2012 must have been the tipping point, as the organizers have moved the event to the 3rd week of September, which has better promise of warm weather and clear views of the glorious scenery of the area.

The sketches included with this story were made from memory shortly after the ride.

 

 

 

Bustle Caffé

Bustle Caffe –  535 W McGraw St., Seattle, WA

  • Espresso:  ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷   ~
  • Cycle accommodations:  Limited secure – observable
  • Cafe setting:  ~ Bright, Well laid out, Tasteful
  • Interior seating: ~ Many options, plenty of seating
  • Exterior seating: ~ Available, not covered
  • Pastry selection:~ Good selection – Sandwiches

2013IMG_2703Bustle Marking the last weekends of the 2013 winter, we made our first back to back ride of the year to properly close it out.  Bainbridge Island delivered quality scenery and quiet roads, plus a few hills on Saturday.  A Sunday ride to Alki Point punished us with a stiff headwind, however, we reaped the reward of the tailwind on the northbound return route.  Boosted by the wind we raced along through Mrytle Edwards Park and took the newly opened pedestrian and bike bridge that provides safe passage across Elliott Ave to lower Queen Anne.  Jettisoning us out directly onto 3rd Ave W.,  the bridge placed us into perfect alignment to make the climb to the top of Queen Anne and to our destination, Bustle Caffe.

2013IMG_2704BustleWith the exception of the flamboyant script of the sign, the exterior of Bustle Caffe looks a bit austere with a dark bronze colored metal siding.  The building has history and was built over 100 years ago as a grocery store.   It has been restored and retains some of its original decor inside.  A patio embraces the west side of the shop and must be popular on a warm sunny day.

There is no convenient place to park and secure your bicycle.  If traveling in a group, leaning the bikes against the outer wall seems the best option to be able to keep a safe eye on them.   Being out on a solo ride, a telephone pole on the corner sufficed; we hope it was not visited  by any doggies.

2013IMG_2698Bustle 2013IMG_2699BustleInside, Bustle Caffe transforms from the dark bronze exterior into a delightfully bright cafe setting.  Painted with a buttery yellow, the walls are warm and cheerful.  Two floral center pieces were placed strategically on the tables; when combined with the north light of the windows, a spring like atmosphere was made.  Two floral themed 2013IMG_2697Bustlechandeliers complement the space well, we wondered if they were part the history of the building.  There is a host of seating available, including a painted white bench and marble topped cafe tables.  The front of the house is lively and social, and a back area provides opportunity for a more secluded and quiet setting.  Free wi-fi is offered and there were a number of people making use of it.  Bustle is dog friendly and has treats available for Rover.  There was a pair of pudgy pugs hanging out with their moms during our visit.

2013IMG_2693Bustle 2013IMG_2690BustleThe food selection is  good with a healthy variety of choices.   Fresh homemade pastries and organic sandwiches fill the case.  In addition to coffee, they serve beer, wine, juices and “revitalizing elixirs”.  Attibassi Italian espresso is the coffee of choice for Bustle.  It is flown in weekly, as we understand, from Italy.   Bustle’s web site says it is flown in from “Bologna Spain”.   Without going to exhaustive research we are pretty confident that the coffee comes from Bologna, which is in the northern part of Italy.  Just thought we would point that out if they want to fix the reference.

Riding the last leg of the hill climb up McGraw St. to reach our destination made us more than ready to revive with an espresso before the leg home.  The baristas were very cheerful and engaged the customers pleasantly with conversation.  We ordered our espresso; a soda water was provided as a compliment upon request.  There were two working the bar and we were able to have the business of exchanging payment completed prior to the espresso being served.  It was presented properly with a saucer and spoon.  The aroma was pleasant.  The crema was thick, rich, and sustained itself well. The color would be considered on the light side, perhaps it was the effects of the buttery yellow paint.  The texture was creamy and flowed well across the palette. The flavor was good and progressed pleasantly to a sweet finish.  As a bonus, if you order a second espresso it is only one dollar.

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Bustle Caffe we enjoyed our espresso experience and give you a four out of five wheel rating.  The baristas provided excellent service and made one feel welcome in the cafe.  The atmosphere is pleasant, inviting and offers choices of seating.  The espresso was good and the fullness of the crema was the highlight.  It lacked just a bit of robustness of aroma and flavor.  We will be back again to enjoy a quality espresso experience.  Perhaps SDOT would be willing to add a bike rack out front if requested, click the SDOT link to learn more.

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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

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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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

Broadcast Coffee – Capitol Hill

Broadcast Coffee (Capitol Hill) – 1623 Bellevue Ave. Seattle, WA

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷   ~
  • Cycle accommodations:  Lean space on windows, observable from inside ~
  • Cafe setting: Simple, Clean  ~
  • Interior seating: Variety of options, makes good use the space ~
  • Exterior seating: Modest, Minimally covered~
  • Pastry selection: Modest ~

2013IMG_2491Broadcast CHBroadcast Coffee’s Capitol Hill location tucked neatly into the store front of a fairly newly developed building.   Secure bike parking is limited, and you will want to make sure to keep your cycle in plain view against the window, or it may quickly vanish if unsecured.  Perhaps when the construction project underway, directly south of Broadcast, is complete a bike rack will be installed.  If not, Broadcast, we recommend that you call (206) 684-7583 and visit http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bikeracks.htm to understand the options and request SDOT to provide accommodations for securing cycles near to you and preferably observable from within the cafe.

2013IMG_2490Broadcast CHThis part of the city seems to be rapidly transforming with new development and Broadcast Coffee took the opportunity to recently settle into their second location.  The original location is at 1918 Yesler Way.  We will plan a stop there to compare in the future to gage consistency of brand.  There are a few chairs outside available to sit and sip a coffee and watch the activity of the neighborhood. We state no guarantees that the narrow canopy will keep you dry on a rainy day.

2013IMG_2479Broadcast CH2013IMG_2488Broadcast CH2013IMG_2489Broadcast CHInside is simple and clean, with sealed natural finish concrete floors and exposed  structural concrete columns and slab ceiling.  Pendant lights draw focus to the coffee bar, which is finished with a warm natural wood transaction top and basket weave tile facing on the front.  The natural wood highlights are consistent throughout the coffee house, giving it warmth and a touch of character.  There is a wall display of coffee and a few coffee sundries available for purchase.  A vintage filmstrip projector caught our eye and brought back memories of  an A.V. cart being rolled into a darkened classroom room for a filmstrip show with accompanying beep tone to signal when to advance to the next frame.  In our humble opinion, a few more bits of A.V. and broadcast paraphernalia will fill out the decor of this new location just right.

2013IMG_2485Broadcast CHThe young man tending the espresso bar greeted us warmly with a smile and provided a good introduction to the coffee roasts they were serving.  Dueling grinders were in operation. Grinder one was loaded with Stumptown Hairbender, and grinder two was loaded with a single origin ethiopian heirloom from Sightglass coffee bar and roastery of San Francisco.  We discussed a bit about the qualities of each and how a single origin can be difficult to pull a good quality espresso with.  We have had our fair share of Hairbender and with some thoughtful nudging from the barista we decided upon the Sightglass.

2013IMG_2480Broadcast CHWith a satisfied order taken, the barista served a soda water immediately and our expectation of a good espresso was set into place by the quality of the ritual that was being delivered.   The barista was noticeably focused and took thoughtful deliberation in his preparations.   He was careful to keep a tidy cup and delivered the espresso with deft movements placing it gently in front of us.  The crema was wonderfully consistent and full.  The aroma was clean and smooth.  The texture of the coffee was good and provided an excellent flavor progression with a lingering sweetness to finish.

Broadcast we give you a solid four out of five wheels.  The coffee bar is pleasant, clean and simple.  The service was excellent and the espresso preparations done properly with attention to tradition.   The pastry selection was limited like the bike parking.  One might fuss that the espresso crema could have had a more reddish tint and a smidgen more velvety texture across the palette, however,  all the other qualities ruled the day.  Bravo, we know that we can come to Broadcast for an espresso performance 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

Tougo Coffee Co.

Tougo Coffee Co. – 1410 18th Ave. Seattle, WA

  • Espresso:  ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~
  • Cycle accommodations:  U-rack on the sidewalk, lean space on windows, observable from inside ~
  • Cafe setting: Neighborly ambience  ~
  • Interior seating: Variety of options, makes good use the space ~
  • Exterior seating: Modest, no cover ~
  • Pastry selection: Very good ~

2013IMG_2496TougoIt was a chilly 28º F early in the morning.  Dense fog touched the bones.  The first miles were all down hill and the cold spared no mercy on the gloved fingers. Each tap of the keyboard as we wrote this review provided a prompting ache in the fingertips, as a reminder of the cruelty of the cold.  Fortunately, after the first downhill miles, the ride was predominantly uphill to reach our destination, Tougo Coffee Co.  We pressed a good pace up the hills to regain circulation in the extremities.

Located on the northern edge of the Central District and neatly placed in a single story storefront on 18th Ave, between E. Pike and E. Union Streets, Tougo fit appropriately into the edge of the adjacent residential blocks.   A wooden set of Adirondack rocking chairs with accompanying picnic table provided exterior seating and established a neighborly introduction. Bike parking was available outside and was readily observable from the interior.  There is plenty of wall space on the storefront to lean a number of bikes while your group makes a stop.

2013IMG_2526Tougo2013IMG_2522TougoIt was apparent from our first impression that Tougo is an authentic neighborhood fixture.  We enjoyed how the barista greeted familiar and unfamiliar faces; making all feel welcome.  Casual conversation flavored the ambience inside.  The strongly directional wooden slat ceiling was the interior feature of the space.  We speculate that it was hand fabricated in place, giving it a truly unique character.  Two long banquettes channel the length of the space to provide ample seating.  An arm chair occupies the northern window niche and a bar height cafe table for two occupies the southern niche.  The floor is a sealed patina stained concrete finish.

Tom author of The Seattle Bike Blog

Tom Fucoloro, author of The Seattle Bike Blog

We paid two visits to Tougo.  At the first, we had the pleasure of meeting via bicycle, Tom Fucoloro, the author of the very informative Seattle Bike Blog.  He is also the editor and significant contributing journalist to the Central District News.  Visit both the Seattle Bike Blog and the Central District news to learn more about Tom and the news he is reporting on. Tom recently discovered TheCycleCafe, and an introductory meeting over espresso was our proposal. Tougo was Tom’s suggestion and provided a new cafe to experience for TheCycleCafe.
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The barista was welcoming and friendly, and he gave a full descriptive introduction to the flavor expectations of the two roasts being offered: Velton’s Bonsai Blend, the regular, and Handsome’s Dandy single origin was the rotating roast.  We ordered the Dandy and suggested that we would like to try the Bonsai Blend afterwards to compare.  The barista was very enthusiastic about the prospect and suggested that we take a seat and he would bring the espresso to us.  With the adept skill of an Oktoberfest fräulein, our barista came 2013IMG_2509Tougocheerfully bearing two fists full of four tiny espresso cups to our table and identified which was which.  It was spectacular service that made for a great experience.  The downside was that the half-life of the first espresso pulled had expired by the time they arrived.  We should have told him that we wanted them spaced apart.  We give top marks for the fun experience but reserved reviewing the espresso until our second visit.

2013IMG_2506Tougo2013IMG_2522TougoDuring our second visit the barista gave an equally informative description of the flavor expectations of each roast; the Bonsai chocolaty, and the Dandy bright and fruity.  We appreciated how she took care to calibrate the machine and test the roast before pulling our espresso.  She impressively managed multiple customers and maintained engaging banter while making multiple preparations.  We started with the Bonsai Blend.  The aroma was rich and was indeed chocolaty.  The crema was consistent and full with moderate stamina. The coloration was caramel brown.  The taste was good and developed pleasantly and finished with a sweetness.  After the first espresso, a raspberry filled biscuit and a Sfogliatelle filled with goat cheese, red pepper and olives called to us from the variety of pastries occupying the case.  We started with the biscuit while the Sfogliatelle was 2013IMG_2525Tougo 2013IMG_2518Tougowarmed and the second espresso was being prepared.  The Dandy roast was as described, bright and fruity both in aroma and flavor.  The crema was a light caramel color and smoothly consistent across the surface.  We preferred the flavor of Velton’s Bonsai Blend.

Tougo Coffee we give you a solid four out of five wheel rating.  You are definitely a worthy cycling espresso stop and we will remember you when we are in the Central District.  Your service and customer care are excellent.  The neighborhood character and ambience was delightful.  We appreciated the introduction and information regarding the roasts being offered.  The Dandy espresso was possibly slightly under extracted, but the flavor and aroma still came through satisfactorily.  Produce more stamina and rich velvety texture in the crema and the espresso will be even better.  Consider, as part of espresso tradition, offering a small compliment of soda water to clear the palette for the discerning espresso drinker.

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Tougo Coffee Co., continue being a great neighborhood cafe experience and destination in the Central District.  Cyclists descend upon them!  We do not think they will mind if you clear out the pastry case and other assorted sandwich offerings.

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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

Arabica Lounge

Arabica Lounge – 1550 E. Olive Way, Seattle, WA

  • Espresso:  ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷   ~
  • Cycle accommodations:  Limited, U-rack on the sidewalk ~
  • Cafe setting: Bright, Artistic ~
  • Interior seating: Good selection and variety of options ~
  • Exterior seating: Limited, classroom chairs no cover ~
  • Pastry selection: Excellent ~

2013IMG_2407ArabicaEnter Arabica Lounge, if you are able to look beyond the case of delectable pastries, you will see a space that is welcoming and that challenges you to bring your creative  thoughts to bear.  The vanguard creation of JoJo Corväià, Arabica Lounge describes its purpose solely for, “… creating a sense of community…place for the stimulation of all senses…place for peace and enjoyment”  Depending on the time of day and the event, they seem to be living up to the mission.  We certainly found the environment to be restorative.

2013IMG_2416ArabicaSituated on the western gateway to Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Arabica Lounge captures the busy NE street corner of East Olive Way and Denny.  The classy logo and gold leaf lettering on the plate glass storefront windows subtly sparks a mystical intrigue to draw ones attention to enter.

2013IMG_2409ArabicaThe tall ceilings, bright daylight, and striking art on the far wall, develop a welcoming, eclectic, and mentally stimulating first impression.  Shortly thereafter, a bountiful and delectable pastry display will buckle your knees.  Best yet, Arabica Lounge is a micro bakery that creates and produces all of their own baked goods, with the exception of the breads.  They are primarily focused on breakfast and brunch foods; featuring pastries, crepes, egg 2013IMG_2415Arabicacreations, and quite a bit more.  They also offer a supper club service, but you need to be quick to secure a post at the table.  Explore their menu and services on their website to find out all of the details.  A long cycling ride is well rewarded with the food and coffee at Arabica Lounge.  Because of the minimal exterior accommodations, it may be best to reserve a cycling stop here for a small group rather than a full peloton.  However, there is a good variety of seating options to choose from.  We tried the Tahini biscuits, which were out of this 2013IMG_2420Arabicaworld delicious and powered us through to our end destination.

Espresso beverages are served to compliment the food offerings and are not the primary business of Arabica Lounge.  We have been here a number of times and wanted to reserve a write up until we had confirmed a level of consistency.  We have been served by 3 different baristas and found that all of the espresso have been good.  The best quality was crafted by a young lady barista.  Sorry gents, she just has you beat; particularly on the ability to develop a quality crema from the compact La Marzocco.  Arabica uses Stumptown Hairbender roast.

2013IMG_2467ArabicaArabica Lounge, we give you a four out of five wheel rating on our espresso experience.  We were pleasantly engaged by the barista and the espresso was pulled after we had made payment.  It was crafted with care and presented with a saucer and spoon. The crema was consistent and held good stamina.  The aroma greeted us warmly and the flavor had a quality progression and finish.  The ambience and experience is unique and enjoyable.   We did not give a full five wheel rating because we think the espresso texture, while good, did not quite hit a full velvety excellence and the crema coloration was a touch light.  We also would encourage that a small complimentary serving of soda water be provided along with the espresso.

Arabica Lounge, keep creating the unique and wonderful experiences.  You are a gem in Seattle.

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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