It’s been almost exactly three years to the day since I launched Caffeination Cascadia on July 1, 2013. As it was the middle of the summer, I wrote about cold brew as compared to iced coffee in The Coolest Coffees. In the time since, I’ve covered everything from the world’s largest coffee convention to an invite-only warehouse meet-up of the West Coast’s brightest minds in art, coffee and tech. A lot of things have evolved: Cold brew is so popular that you can now buy it in kegs; cannabis coffees have hit the market; the Northwest got its first certified coffee sommelier; and cats have infiltrated our cafés. Plenty has happened in the worlds of tea and chocolate, too, like tea liqueurs and coffee-chocolate tasting bars.
Yet some things have also stayed the same—not least among them the fact that the Northwest is still, quite possibly, the best coffee region in the world. While a list of all the great things about it would go on indefinitely, I’ve compiled the following instead: 20 of my favorite caffeinated drinks, places and things in the Northwest. The list skews Seattle-centric thanks to my own location, and I’ve almost certainly missed some that I’ll kick myself for forgetting later, but I would recommend the experiences below (in no particular order) to anyone and everyone. Thanks for reading Caffeination Cascadia for the past three years; now, get out there and relish this incredible coffee region.
Espresso Tonic – Elm Coffee Roasters (Seattle) | I didn’t believe this combination could work until I tried it; now, I can’t get enough. In warm weather, it’s my daily go-to.
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe – Bellingham Coffee Roasters (Bellingham, WA) | Most coffee lovers can recall the first roast they tried that opened their eyes to the full range of flavors that coffee can offer. I’m not sure whether they still offer it, but this selection from Bellingham Coffee Roasters was it for me.
Liberty Bar (Seattle) | Coffee, cocktails, sushi – three of my favorite things done incredibly well in one of the chillest bars in the city. There’s not much more I could ask for from Liberty.
Spanish Coffee – Huber’s (Portland) | Spanish Coffee is my favorite coffee cocktail, thanks as much to the fanfare as the flavor. Nobody does it better than Huber’s.
Deconstructed Espresso – Slate Coffee (Seattle) | Slate’s scientifically controlled approach to coffee tasting (served in wine glasses) is clever, fun and informative.
Anchorhead Cold Brew (Duvall, WA) | Great cold brew from a great team – Anchorhead is another go-to of mine.
Nossa Familia Coffee (Portland) | There are a lot of ethically-minded coffee roasters out there, but Nossa Familia’s “family-traded” approach stands out.
Bean Box (Seattle) | This is one of the best gifts you can give a coffee enthusiast (I’ve done it several times). Another awesome team and a very well-executed coffee subscription service.
Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters (Sandpoint, ID) | The small-town loyalty that Evans Brothers has built in and around Sandpoint is amazing to see firsthand, and the coffee is certainly good enough to merit such a fan base.
Revolver Coffee (Vancouver, BC) | I love the multi-roaster coffee shop model, and few cafés accomplish on it as successfully as Revolver. The range of coffees on deck at any given time always impresses (at present: beans from Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Portland, San Francisco and Oslo).
Lavender Mocha – Bedlam Coffee (Seattle) | Much as I love an exquisite single-origin pour-over, I still enjoy the occasional fluffy, sugared coffee drink too. Case in point: the lavender mocha at Bedlam Coffee (which is worth a visit for the décor alone).
Espresso Burgers (N/A) | This is neither a location or a drink, but this espresso-rubbed burger recipe was my most delightful foray into cooking with coffee. Make it this summer.
Case Study Coffee Roasters (Portland) | I choose my coffeehouses as much for the atmosphere as for the drinks, and Case Study never lets me down in either category. I love working or meeting friends at the bright, airy Alberta location.
Elevated Coffee – Trichome (Seattle) | The cannabis-coffee combination, known as the Seattle Speedball, always yields pleasurable results, and Trichome’s vaguely legal Elevated Coffee series has been one of the most fascinating things to happen to Northwest coffee over the past few years.
Water Avenue Coffee Co. (Portland) | I come here for the vibe; it’s the kind of place you can sit and people-watch, work or read for hours on a rainy Northwest afternoon. I also appreciate their boundary-pushing projects like wine barrel-aged coffee beans.
Coffee Liqueur – Seattle Distilling (Vashon, WA) | Because I specialize in both coffee and spirits, I enjoy anything that brings the two together. Seattle Distilling’s coffee liqueur is rich, balanced, and especially tasty as part of a fun little cocktail called Up All Night.
Espresso Vivace Sidewalk Bar (Seattle) | Few if any Northwest coffeehouses have been more pivotal to coffee than Espresso Vivace. Whenever I’m on Broadway, I stop at the sidewalk bar for an always-on-point espresso shot in a little paper cup.
Blue Star Coffee Roasters (Twisp, WA) | Blue Star may be Eastern Washington’s best-kept secret. I love seeing this caliber of roasts coming out of tiny towns like Twisp.
Cold Brew Coffee with Milk – Stumptown Coffee Roasters (Portland) | When I was growing up, I was obsessed with the chocolate milk cartons I got at school during lunch. Stumptown’s paper cartons of cold brew coffee with milk are the grown-up equivalent of this daily treat.
MiiR (Seattle) | MiiR offers such a unique shopping experience that its outstanding coffee bar is just a bonus. Highlights: Counter Culture and Kuma coffees, nitro cold brew on tap, and feeling good about making a real difference with every single purchase.