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

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

Monorail Espresso

Monorail Espresso – 510 Pike Street, Seattle, WA

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~
  • Cycle accommodations:  On the go! ~
  • Cafe setting:  Walk up window ~
  • Interior seating: None ~
  • Exterior seating: None ~
  • Pastry selection: Chubbies ~

Skid your fixie to a halt and order an espresso at Monorail Espresso.  This is your on the go spot for an excellent espresso when in downtown Seattle.  Socketed into the the south facade of the former Coliseum Cinema, now Banana Republic, Monorail coffee maintains a long standing presence.

Monorail Espresso is a walk up espresso bar.  Do not park the bike, go straight for the espresso, do not pass go, and do not collect $200.  No futzing about wondering what you want, put your order in and let the line keep moving.  Cash only and tourist’s questions answered for a nominal fee.  Only one choice for food here, Chubbies.  Regretfully we did not order one; they looked much like our favorite chocolate chip cookies; made by Grandma.  We must go back to try them and update this post with the results.

Expectations were low when we asked to have the espresso served in hardware and with a soda water.  We were accommodated on both accounts.  The soda was served in an espresso cup and espresso served in a Japanese tea cup.  Aroma excellent, crema like fine velvet, texture like it should be, and flavor was exquisite.  Needless to say, this espresso hit the spot.  Traditions and formalities of cups, saucers and spoons aside, the quality of the espresso rocked the day. Monorail Espresso we give your espresso a five out of five wheel rating!

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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

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

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