Celesto Espresso Mobile Truck

Celesto Espresso Mobile Truck – Seattle, WA

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~
  • Cycle accommodations: On the go ~
  • Cafe setting:  A fantastic truck ~
  • Interior seating: Fabulous, but only on invitation ~
  • Exterior seating: That is all there is ~
  • Pastry selection: A fine modest selection ~

February 22, 2014 cold, wet, and gray are the descriptors for the day. The weather forecast promised that an 8:00 AM departure time would provide a window of opportunity for a dry ride.  Upon review of the mendacious weather app, we saw that the bright red warning icon was flashing, saying snow was a possibility in the higher elevations.  Turning a blind eye to that, a final check of the polished red brake levers of the Wilier was made.  As the cranks turned, a drizzle filled the air closing the promise of the dry window.  We were committed now and forged ahead climbing up to the top of Discovery Park to get warm and then to Perkins lane where freezing rain stung into our cheeks on the descent.  Red alerts went off to say that the ride may need to be abandoned if the freezing rain continued.  Fortunately, it was brief and yielded to larger drops of fluid precipitation.  Looking at the glistening sleeves of the red Rapha rain jacket, today would be a day that will test the quality and performance of the gear.  Another fleeting wise thought was that today would be a good day to use an indoor trainer.   If that was the case, we would not have the opportunity to go out in search of our motivator for the ride, Celesto Espresso Mobile Truck.  Would we find it? Would it be in its promised location on a day like today?  Could Celesto provide a quality espresso?  Most horrifyingly, would it be served in a paper cup?; lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!  We pressed onward making for the dependable West Seattle loop, out beyond the Fauntleroy ferry terminal, up Marine View Drive, and then back northbound using the treacherous heavily motorized 35th Ave SW which provided the highest elevation point of the ride and heavy slushy drops that wavered between snow and rain.  Only ten miles of glistening pavement stood between us and an espresso.  Rain had penetrated through both gloves and booties but the Rapha rain jacket  and winter collar kept our core warm and dry.  A brief chill that slithered in during the descent brought back memories of the 2012 Tour de Blast.

Pausing at the Port for a moment to admire the Smith Tower, we mentally charted a route to South Lake Union (SLU) and the Center for Wooden Boats (CWB), the promised location of Celesto.   The strategy was to warm up by climbing Western Avenue from Pioneer Square and then cut over to SLU via Virginia Street.  The steep climb on the wet cobbles of Virginia required concentration to make it to the top upright without incident; we were now on axis with our destination.  With the chill setting in, was this craziness to go in search of an outdoor truck for the ride’s espresso reward?  Pedaling on, we started the descent to Lake Union; scanning forward in search of Celesto.  Raindrops on our glasses refracted the green light of traffic signals and blinding white beams of oncoming headlights, then we spotted it in the distance, a small glowing red ember, tucked between IMG_5543the cedar shingled roofs of the CWB.  Beckoning us forward, we made our way toward the warmth of the truck’s vermilion radiance.  The foreboding weather had kept most of the visitors away but not Celesto, it was stationed stalwartly between the proud totem pole and the stack of lonely wooden dinghies, whose turquoise hulls complemented the bright fluid script and logo of Celseto.  Basking in the glow and charm of the delightfully restored truck was enough to warm the day.  Clumsily fumbling around with numb hands for money and camera we made preparations for the espresso order. The window slid IMG_5527open and we were pleasantly greeted by Celeste, the proprietor of the truck.  We asked and were granted permission to lean the bike on the truck and were mindful to rest it gently so as to not blemish the paint.  Through shivering lips an espresso was ordered and to our delight it was offered in porcelain and not paper.  Celeste set busily to work crafting a wonderfully aromatic cup.  The flavor was robust and satisfying and provided a lingering sweetness on the palette.  A second espresso was needed and it was IMG_5529equally delicious.  Celesto fulfilled our expectations and we give it a solid four wheels rating and make it a recommended cycling espresso stop when on the go.

Much to our delight we were given a backstage tour of the truck.  The stow-away drivers seat flipped away and provided access in to the neatly developed interior.  The simplicity of the drive council was outstanding; a large steering wheel with just a couple of dials and switches set into a flat metal dash was all that was needed to navigate the rig. We lingered a bit near Holmes, the heater, to admire the artwork sporting a skeleton in a camper.   Finished with the tour and once again outside, we were powered by Celesto espresso and madly pedaled home to finish the ride.

Celesto is open on the weekends at the Center of Wooden Boats and in the future Sundays at the Fremont market.

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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

Poulsbohemian Coffeehouse

Poulsbohemian Coffeehouse – 19003 Front Street, Poulsbo WA

  • Espresso:  ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~
  • Cycle accommodations:  Available in the side court ~
  • Cafe setting:  Bohemian! ~
  • Interior seating: Plenty of seating choices ~
  • Exterior seating: Plenty available, no cover ~
  • Pastry selection: Good options for refueling ~

Poetic waxing can only provide this scenic ride justice.  Summer relenting into Autumn;  Chill morning air tempered by virtue of exertion;  Deciduous warming tones brushed an evergreen canvas. Pathways unrevealed, extended, exhilarated, winding descents; Friendships forged future.

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This cycling journey took us north out of Seattle to Edmonds, to catch the ferry to Kingston.  The morning was crisp with blue pristine skies. Quiet early morning roadways made for favorable riding.  Pronounced and glowing with the rising sun, the Olympic mountains cut a beautiful profile across the sky and above Puget Sound; they beckoned us to board the ferry and continue our journey towards the west. Disembarking the ferry, we pedaled non-stop southward through Indianola, then around Miller Bay and through Squamish.  Continuing on, we headed north then west, navigating our way to Poulsbo and our midpoint destination, the Poulsbohemian Coffeehouse.  Climbing southward out of  Poulsbo, a wonderful three mile stretch of rolling coastal roadway, Lemolo Shore Drive, was a fitting treat.  It connected to  the busier SR 305 and the Agate Pass bridge joining the peninsula to Bainbridge Island.  We conducted a tour of the east side of the island and visited the Vintage Bicycle Museum at Classic Cycles while we waited for the return ferry to Seattle.  The conditions of the day were perfect, the scenery phenomenal, and the camaraderie rewarding.  While the picturesque nature of this ride would be satisfying any time of year, the autumn colors made it magnificent.  Round trip, departing from the Fremont Bridge, was about 60 miles and 5500’ of elevation gain.

The Poulsbohemian Coffeehouse (PBCH) was a delightful cycling cafe stop.  We were ready to recharge after traveling some 35 miles and 3500 vertical feet.  Located at the northern extreme of the Poulsbo town center the PBCH was painted strikingly yellow with blue accents and presented with paradoxical quietness to the street.   Small in scale, the facade gives way to a large variety of interior seating with breathtaking views of Puget Sound and the Western Peninsula.  A side court is an excellent exterior room that provides a secure spot to park your bikes and enjoy a cup.

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Food selection is good, including pastries, sandwiches, and soup.  Serving a custom Mukilteo Coffee Roasters Poulsbohemian blend, the PBCH proffered some fine espresso preparations.

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The service was friendly and the barista/cashier did an admirable job of multi-tasking coffee, food, and coin.  We self-served a glass of filtered water to cleanse the palette prior to partaking in our cafe indulgence.  Moving to the finer points of the espresso; its best attributes were the aroma and the flavor.  The crema was smooth, although, frail; dissipating quickly. The progression of flavor was good and did provide a sweet lingering coffee flavor.  Overall we give the espresso experience a solid three wheel rating.  PBCH, you are definitely a recommended cycling stop and strategically placed for those exploring the area by cycle.  We look forward to stopping 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

Issaquah Coffee Company

Issaquah Coffee Company – 317 NW Gilman Blvd., Issaquah, WA

  • Espresso:  ⨷ ⨷ ⨷   ~
  • Cycle accommodations:  Plenty of space, limited cycling specific ~
  • Cafe setting:  Spacious good daylight ~
  • Interior seating: Plenty, with options ~
  • Exterior seating: Exterior decks, some under cover ~
  • Pastry selection: Good & Plentiful ~

May’s bike month and Cycling season had kicked into full gear and beautiful weather IMG_3117launched it forward with splendor.  The goal of this ride was to complete a century and since timing did not work out for riding companions, it had to be done solo. Reaching 100 miles would include a route around the north end of Lake Washington, a stretch east, along Lake Sammamish, a climb over Issaquah, a switch back to the east along SE May Valley Road, south to the Cedar River Trail, then west into Renton, a transition north along Lake Washington Boulevard and finally ending with a few climbs in Discovery Park to eek out the last few miles to mark the century.

IMG_3118The route included three trails, the Burke-Gilman, the Sammamish River, and the Cedar River trail.   The Sammamish River Trail, the best of the three in our opinion, provides beautiful countryside scenery along the water’s edge.  Taking it early in the morning is recommended to offer the best continuous riding and fewest pedestrians.  The trail terminates in Redmond Washington.  East Lake Sammamish Parkway, a 10 mile stretch of quality roadway with a good shoulder, provided satisfying uninterrupted hammering of pedal strokes that guided us to the destination espresso stop, Issaquah Coffee Company.  Previously we were under the impression that Issaquah was devoid of a quality indie coffee house.  Thanks to a tip from one of our readers, Issaquah was saved from this stigma and now has the honor of having a recognized Cycling Espresso Stop, Issaquah Coffee Company.

IMG_3137Tucked on the south side of Gilman Village, Issaquah Coffee Company is most easily accessed off NW Juniper Street.  From the north, East Lake Sammamish Parkway changes to Front Street North; go west on NW Holly street and continue west to the end where you must turn right on 3rd Ave NW which will tee into NW Juniper Street.  Turn left then take the first right into the parking lot where you will see the gabled roof of Issaquah Coffee Company.  Enter from the west side where there is a front porch hosting a few adirondack chairs under cover.  There is a large deck to the north as well as another one to the east.  There is a small bike rack next to the garbage and recycling containers, hardly a fitting spot to rest your fine ride.  While there is limited cycling specific parking, plenty of space is availabe on the deck.

IMG_3129IMG_3123Inside there is a large amount of seating with multiple options including, soft couches and chairs, as well as cafe tables.  It is a pleasant simple interior with ample daylight to warm the hardwood floors.  The large flat screen TV is a bit of an anomaly to the other wise peaceful cafe setting, fortunately the volume was not turned on.

IMG_3122IMG_3125If you have worked up an appetite there is plenty of food and a good selection of sweet and savory items.  Sandwiches in addition to pastries are available for purchase.  The veggie quiche was called to our plate.  It was warm and delicious.

Our espresso experience was good.  Stumptown Hairbender is served at the cafe.  We were warmly greeted at the counter and placed our espresso and food order.  A soda water compliment was served upon request.  As is preferred, our payment was taken prior to the espresso being made.  Our food was prepared and then the espresso was delivered making the timing and delivery just right.  The crema was thick and rich and had the typical characteristics we see with Hairbender.  The aroma was full and offered an excellent prelude to a satisfying progression of delightful coffee flavor.  It was an excellent first espresso that begged a second one be ordered to help energize our legs to make the next 57 miles of the days effort.   The second espresso was pulled by a different barista.  A small cappuccino cup was used instead of a proper espresso demitasse, so the crema dissipated rapidly and the temperature of the shot was lost.  The flavor was generally the same but the espresso experience faltered on try number two.

Issaquah Coffee Company, we definitely make you a recommended cycling stop.  The staff is friendly, there are plenty of seating options, and enough food choices to serve the peloton.  We give the espresso experience three out of five wheels rating, primarily taken a notch down due to the faltering on the second pull and primarily the delivery; easily remedied.  We enjoyed the visit and will plan to stop again when in Issaquah.

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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

Brewed

Brewed – 601 Main Street, Vancouver, Washington

  • Espresso:  ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~
  • Cycle accommodations: Limited to street ~
  • Cafe setting: Cozy, daylight, unique decor, well displayed, ghost ~
  • Interior seating: Loft plus limited entry level ~
  • Exterior seating: limited, covered ~
  • Pastry selection: Did not see a display, menu of food offerings ~

Journey to Vancouver Part II  – (Part I)

Vancouver received a Bicycle Friendly Community Bronze award from  the League of American Bicyclist.  The City of Vancouver, in conjunction with the City of Portland, has created a combined bicycle map, to help plan an urban ride sure to have many opportunities to discover points of interest in both cities.  Vancouver also provides a base to start and finish, a Columbia River Gorge bicycle tour.  The Oregon department of transportation published a tour map that describes three routes to help plan a scenic cycling tour of the river gorge.  We have driven the route along I-84 many times and can attest to the beauty a bicycling expedition would offer.   A loop from Vancouver to The Dalles, Oregon, traversing the north and south side of the river gorge, would be approximately 200 miles.  A stay at the Inn of the White Salmon, in White Salmon, Washington, is recommended for a good night sleep and a sumptuous breakfast in the morning.  Another tour that would involve considerably more climbing and distance, would be to route south, around Mt. Hood, via state routes 26 and 35; this course would certainly provide scenic splendor.

Our second stop for an espresso in Vancouver was at Brewed coffee.  They are located in a street level storefront, of the historic, and purportedly haunted, Heritage Building on Main street.  Brewed has placed a trifecta of offerings together as part of the freshly opened,  multi-generational, family owned and operated, coffee house, restaurant, and wine bar.  The interior is compact, and features a reclaimed lumber faced bar as a a signature element.  There is loft seating, as well as seating on the main level.  We enjoyed that the metal sign, displayed in the interior, was formed by the inverse remnant of the letters cut for the exterior signage.  Decorative art glass lights provide a touch of color, and a subtle sense of connection to the historic character of the building.

We were pleasantly greeted and welcomed by the proprietor, a.k.a , the brother, as we entered the cafe.  The chattering sound of coffee beans being loaded into the grinder warmed our anticipation of an espresso.  Brewed develops and roasts their own coffee blend.  This particular day, perhaps a consequence of the preternatural prowling of Joyce D. Thomasen, the ghost of the Heritage Building, the blend of coffee being used was a mystery of the unknown.  Although we preferred to suspect our theory of a specter at play, it was quickly dispelled, and the culpability of the “Mystery of the Unknown Roast”, was quickly assessed to the father, who had allegedly delivered the freshly roasted beans, then promptly had any knowledge of which beans had been roasted, wiped clean from his cerebral cortex.  Fathers, if not good for floating a business, are certainly good for carrying a share of cause and effect consequences.  The barista, a.k.a. sister of the operation, quickly got to work, grinding the beans, leveling, then tamping, and finally delivering the grinds to the La Marzocco machine, to work some magic.  The espresso was delivered with a buoyant and enthusiastic smile; in a cup, sans saucer, spoon, or any other accompaniment.  The crema was whitish and relatively thin, and the aroma was light.  The flavor was not robust, however, we enjoyed the taste, and the light sweetness that developed at the finish.  We suspect that the espresso was potentially pulled too quickly, or was under extracted, or possibly the grind was too course, to allow a fully developed crema, flavor, and aroma.  Brewed, we enjoyed our experience at your cafe.  We give our espresso experience with you two out of five wheels.  The rating was buoyed by the enjoyable and enthusiastic service, as well as, the pleasant finish of the espresso.  We encourage you to hone your espresso craft in order to deliver the finest espresso possible, and suggest you review David Schomer’s publications: “Techniques of the Barista” and “Espresso Coffee: Professional Techniques”.  They are excellent resources for refining the quality of the espresso.   David Schomer is a recognized world expert in espresso craft.  Read The Cycle Cafe’s Rating Guide, to gain an idea of what we look for and see at the best espresso bars, then add a personal touch of your own.  We look forward to returning in the future.

*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 3.1.4