Posts Tagged ‘5 stars’


Cafe Allegro

April 10, 2010

In an alley just off of the UW campus sits a hidden gem: Cafe Allegro. There is a sign out on the sidewalk directing people down an alley to where the cafe is located.
The outside of the cafe is just amazing. Vines cover the top of the building just above the windows and sweep down to the Cafe Allegro sign. The sign it self is beautiful in its simplicity. A woody, homemade look with no glitz or glamour. That in itself is the best way to describe Cafe Allegro;it has a very down to Earth feel with a wonderful, creative vibe. Along the exterior of the building is a bench where patrons sit drinking their coffee.

Inside is invigorating. Most cafes have the same typical art. TruthfullyI’m getting tired of seeing peoples “artistic” photos of their vacation or “tragic” photos that leave me feeling as if I was trying to be manipulated. If you have seem one you have seen them all, but what was on exhibit here was different. Unique, colorful, and full of life.
One of the first things that I noticed was the pastry case. This is the type of selection that I long for at any cafe. It was full of donuts, turnovers, muffins, almond croissants, and cookies as far as the eye could see. Way to many things to choose from, but that’s how I like it best. The menu offered a refreshing array of drinks. Besides the usual coffee offerings there was apple cider, fresh lemonade, orange juice, pink grapefruit juice, Italian soda, and Thamas Kemper Soda (root beer, cream, blackberry, and orange cream).
After placing my order I sat down and noticed that there were cards with various

bird identification covering the register. The wall behind the register was covered in foreign currency. A simple idea, but I loved it and it fit well with the rest of the cafe. The table itself had a piece of woven fabric under a glass top with a sign that encouraged patrons to please share the tables.
R brought over our order and I dove into a delicious looking raspberry donut. Oh my, was it amazing: moist, full of flavor, but most importantly it had the right amount of raspberry so that the flavor didn’t over power. I could really go off my diet and not really care if I had more of these in my life.

The carmel latte I had was good. The shot of carmel was too sweet, but the latte was hot. Getting a hot latte is a rare commodity lately so I’m more than willing to look past the flavor of the carmel if I’m served something warmer than an ice cube.
As I sipped my latte I watched the Baristas in action. They were nice, friendly, and seemed to know many of the patrons that came in. In between my Barista watching I drifted in and out of conversations at other tables. Some were discussing the influences of Jazz, the literary contributions of certain authors, and another was going on the most fantastic flow of conscious about Shakespeare right up to current events. However the most interesting was from a man reminiscing

about being in New York when John Lennon was shot. Not the usual coffee shop talk that I’m use to hearing. It was refreshing.
The bathroom is some thing that needs to be discussed for many reasons. First, it’s tiny. Meaning it’s thin. Really it is as wide as a person. Second, it is a bit grimy. Not that it looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in a while, but it isn’t my idea of a wonderful place to be. Finally it is a sight to see. The brick walls are covered in very artistic graffiti. It was so interesting that I forgot where I was.
Cafe Allegro is an amazing place that anyone in Seattle needs to try. No excuses. Go. Experience. Enjoy. Thank me later.

Cafe Allegro Expresso Bar on Urbanspoon


Brew of the Week– Trabant Guatemalan Roast

March 24, 2010

After visiting Trabant Coffee & Chi R and I decided that we couldn’t leave without picking up a bag of their coffee to take home. Since R had the Ethiopian at the cafe we went the route of the Guatemalan Roast.

The roast was amazing, but my I regret not having a better way of brewing it. There are so many subtle hints to this blend that a lot was lost for me after making it in my regular coffee pot. The French Press was the better route to go, but after having it made in Trabant with a clover I knew what I was missing. However that doesn’t mean is was bad by any standard.  It was amazing.

Just having the bag around and smelling the beans was a pleasure. The beans have a fruity smell to them and once brewed there is a notes of peach that are picked up with hint of mocha. A wonderful mix in coffee.

This is a great dessert coffee as well. My suggestion is to get a slice of chocolate cake to eat while savoring the drink. Coffee naturally enhances the flavor of chocolate, but the marriage between these two was amazing. They worked together very well and to me the chocolate only made the coffee more pleasurable to drink bring out the hints of mocha in the blend.

The other thing that I noticed is that this is a coffee that doesn’t do well cold. It needs to be savored while piping hot or a lot of the flavor is lost.  Even luke warm and it isn’t as enjoyable.


Belle Epicurean

March 14, 2010

While scouting locations for this weeks coffee shop I came across Belle Epicurean also known as Belle’s Buns. In the past I have thumbed my nose at the “typical” coffee shop set up and was ready for a bit of a change, but since Belle Epicurean bills itself as a Parisian Bakery & Cafe that is located in the Fairmont Hotel I was a bit skeptical.

Walking in this isn’t your run of the mill cafe where everyone is sitting around with their laptops. It’s more of a sit down, pull out your book, and sip on a latte. One wall was covered in awards and articles that they were featured in while another had a tapestry hanging on it. The floors were black and white title and the marble tables made it look like and upscale ice cream shop. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but a warm “hello” from the barista quickly made me feel at home.

Although the decor was intreguing the pasteries caught my eye very quickly. One case was full of croissant, Brioche buns, and sandwiches. Next to it was the case of pastries. Opera cake, tarts, and cookies tempted me. Each item more delicious looking than the next. As I drooled over the goodies the barista patiently waited with a smile. Clearly I was not the first nor will I be the last to be seduced by the desserts in front of me. Finally I chose a White Raspberry Triangle Truffle Cake and a carmel latte. R ordered a Traditional Almond Croissant and a cappuccino. My order was done first and the barista brought out R’s drink a few minutes later.

R’s cappuccino was covered in foam; honestly more than I have ever seen. But his croissant was amazing. It was lightly toasted so each warm, flakey bite warmed my stomach. The really notable part was how heavy it was. This was no light, airy croissant that you eat and are still hungry after. There was notable substance to it.

My White Raspberry Triangle Truffle Cake was heaven. The first few bites were mouthwatering. It was creamy and delicious. However in the center there was a huge portion of overly sweet raspberry which severely demised my joy for the cake.

The latte on the other hand is hands down one of the best I have ever had. Not to bitter, but certainly not to sweet which is usually a problem I have when I ask for carmel. There was only a hint of carmel so I was able to savor the taste of the latte. Perfection. This is one of the only places where the temptation was so strong that I needed to go back for seconds. This time ordering a raspberry latte. It wasn’t as good as the carmel latte, but I think it was the flavoring that was added. In all fairness the barista did tell me that he would add more if I wanted, but it turns the drink pink. Even though it wasn’t as good as the carmel latte it was still one of the best cups I’ve had. This place knows how to make a drink. Just as a side note all of the coffee is Cafe Vita.

The only big downside was that there was no WiFi here. However as I said before this really wasn’t the type of place that seemed to look to attract the stay all day on the laptop crowd.

One of the last things that I need to comment on was the staff. They were warm, friendly, and willing to listen to anyone’s questions. What impressed me the most while I was there was how the one male barista handled a rather rude customer. At one point the customer got so out of control that everyone in the cafe turned to look. The barista remained calm, cool, and collected. After handling a particularly difficult customer once I was once told by a patron that she wished that she could have bottled my words. That is how I felt listening to him deal with the rude customer. It was perfect and spoke to the professionalism of he cafe. Bravo.

Belle Epicurean on Urbanspoon


Trabant Coffee and Chai

March 6, 2010

Trabant Coffee and Chai is a breath of fresh air. Truly I have been getting tired of the whole stereotypical coffee house with the wood floors and crap art on the wall. Yes, there is art here, but the the blue walls and the mural of what I interpreted as an astronauts face added a funky twist. Add to that a loft area with additional seating, Candyland sitting on a shelf under the stairs, and skull lights hanging in the window and I knew that I was in for something a bit different.

One of the first things that I noticed was a sign above the counter proclaiming their dedication to coffee, how they pay twice above fair trade value for their beans, and the intense process of training their baristas go through before serving.

Their pastry offerings is less than impressive. It was limited to some croissants, a cookie or two, and vegan muffins. I went with the heart cookie and wasn’t impressed. Way to sweet for my liking. As for the drinks R ordered a cup of Ethiopian coffee while I went for the raspberry chai.

The coffee is brewed in a Clovker, which is used to brew high-quality coffee with a method similar to a French press. Stealing a sip of his coffee I was blown away by the flavors and the smoothness of it. This wasn’t a strong, hard, get me up in the morning brew. It was like a fine wine; something to be savored and enjoyed.

My chai was delicious. My fear about ordering the was the shot of flavor added it, but my fears were soon gone. There was a distinct chai taste with a hint of raspberry. My only complaint was that it was a bit sweet for my taste, but outstanding none the less.

This is a place I will most defiantly see again, since I am extremely curious about there other roasts.

Trabant Coffee & Chai - U District on Urbanspoon


Top Pot–Capitol Hill

February 13, 2010

Top Pot would not leave us alone. Turn on the Food Network, it was there. Go to Starbucks, and their doughnuts are there. Search coffee shops online and they are there. This was a sign if I ever saw one. Not wanting to drive downtown we instead chose to stop at the Capitol Hill location. Again fate was on our side bringing us to the original location.

The streets were packed with cars and finding a spot to park was bit of a challenge, but we found one relatively nearby. Walking into the cafe it was easy to see the popularity of the place. A short line was backed up in front of the register and the tables were packed with people on laptops. Children ran in and out buying doughnuts for the weekend. The walls were lined with books.

Choosing my drink was easy, a carmel latte, but it was the doughnut selection that was hard part. The doughnuts were lined up in a window in front of the register. Each one looked better than the last. I choose the bull’s eye (glazed with jelly topping in the center) and R got an apple fritter. The barista threw in her favorite, a blueberry cake, since it was our first visit. The coffee was good, but the doughnuts blew me away. Thank god that I don’t live near a Top Pots otherwise I would be in trouble. This is one place that more than lives up to the hype.

Top Pot Doughnuts (Capitol Hill) on Urbanspoon


Greenlake Zoka

January 9, 2010

Being a contracted computer dork (or wizard depending on which one of us you talk to) R has logged many hours in at Zoka. The location in Greenlake is his particular favorite and just judging on coffee alone it’s not hard to see why. I have been here twice and on the last visit got a mocha. It was hands down the best I have had. Not to chocolaty, mixed through completely, and the perfect amount of foam on the top. A tear rolled down my cheek as I reached the bottom of the cup.

The pastries here are also top notch. I decided that we would split a truffle cookie that was decadent with R, but the real winner of the day was the brownie. it was no ordinary brownie (I know what you are thinking.  No, it wasn’t like that). A couple bites into it and a thin layer of raspberry presented itself under a layer of gooey frosting. I found enlightenment. Honestly if heaven isn’t like this than I have no interest in going.

Although I could rave all day about the pastries and coffee there are some major down sides or trade offs for going to Zoka. First is that it is in a residential area. Translate this into no parking. Street parking is the only option and often difficult to find nearby.

What is great about this place is that not only is their free internet, but plenty of plugs to keep laptops charged making it a perfect place to set up shop and work all day. The trade off is that is exactly what people do. Finding a seat here can be a task in itself since not only is the place crowded, but once people get here they grab a seat and stay.

My only real complaint about the place is the amount of time that it takes to actually make the coffee. R got a cappuccino that I stood around 10 minutes waiting for. It was filled to the rim of the mug and I performed a masterful balancing act getting it to the table. Once back at the counter I waited another 10 minutes for my mocha. Really, 10 minutes? What were they doing growing the coffee beans? Yes, I might have grown a few grey hairs while waiting, but it was worth it.

Zoka Coffee Roaster and Tea Co. on Urbanspoon