Seattle Coffee Guide: The Iconic Shops

From Bauhaus to Zeitgeist, our picks for Seattle's iconic shops

By Brangien Davis, Sheila Mickool and Matthew Amster-Burton

December 31, 1969

Bauhaus Books & Coffee

Capitol Hill, founded in 1993
Beans: Lighthouse (exclusive house blend)
Most popular drink: Americano
Wi-Fi: Free
Using the name Bauhaus demonstrates, to use a German term, cojones. Are you comparing yourself to history’s most famous design school, history’s most famous Goth band, or both? Bauhaus, the coffeehouse, is flirting with legendary status itself: As a design playground, it was (along with ex-sibling Zeitgeist) an early trial run for what later became the aesthetic of Bauhaus owner Joel Radin and Mark and Mike Klebeck’s runaway hit, Top Pot. We’re not sure which is more well inked: the towering walls of vintage books, or the tattooed patrons. 301 E Pine St.; 206.625.1600

Zeitgeist Coffee
Pioneer Square, founded in 1997
Beans: Zeitgeist (privately roasted)
Most popular drink: Mocha
Wi-Fi: Free
Part of the greater Top Pot/Bauhaus extended family (still related in décor but no longer in ownership), the focus here is “Art & Coffee,” which should tell you a lot. The look is Pioneer Square: exposed brick, quilted wood paneling, ironwork, two long walls filled with local art and loads of sunlight. In its current location since 2000, it looks as if it’s been meticulously maintained since the Gold Rush. Zeitgeist is steps from nearly anywhere in Pioneer Square and the International District; it’s a frequent stop on gallery walks and serves both artsy types and nearby county government employees alike. 171 S Jackson St.; 206.583.0497

Cafe Allegro
U District, founded in 1975
Beans: Cafe Allegro Organic Fair Trade Blend
roasted by Brown’s Coffee (Shoreline)
Most popular drink: Mexican latte
Wi-Fi: Free
The city’s oldest coffeehouse, Cafe Allegro originally served a proprietary blend made from Starbucks espresso beans. (Founder Dave Olsen became a senior Starbucks exec in the late ’80s.) The small shop tucked in an alley off “the Ave” is still going strong, with a clientele that leans heavily in the Husky direction (thanks to location, location, location). The series of connected rooms—each of which seems like an afterthought—is charmingly hodgepodge and always packed with people on laptops or heavily involved in highlighting textbooks. On sunny days, the east-facing upper deck and outdoor benches provide ample warmth, and on cloudy days, customers curl up with sweet treats from Essential Baking Company and Mighty-O Donuts. 4214 University Way NE; 206.633.3030

Monorail Espresso
Downtown, founded in 1980
Beans: Mukilteo Coffee
Most popular drink: Americano
Wi-Fi: None
Monorail is cash only, constantly thronged with bike messengers—bicyclists get a 25-cent discount—and it offers exactly the opposite of the gruff, seen-it-all service you might expect. Seattle’s first coffee cart (which has since transitioned into a walk-up window), known for its allegiance to liberal causes (seriously, even more so than the average coffee place), always makes you feel like its favorite customer. Now, please, step aside, because its favorite customer is right behind you. 520 Pike St.; 206.625.0449

Caffé Vita
Queen Anne shop f