If the tongue-in-cheek staff bios, the colorful mission statement, or the laugh-filled video of its Bellevue store is any indication, Seattle Coffee Gear is run by happy folks. And why wouldn't it be? With two retail locations and a wealth of bright, accessibly written online resources, the company clearly loves coffee and has plenty of energy with which to share that passion. Should they choose, shoppers visiting the stores encounter interactive experiences. They can test over 80 espresso and coffee machine models, learn how to whip up the perfect latte, or put a leash around whatever floating cloud of frothed milk that they want to take home. The stores' new and refurbished gear ranges from simple electric kettles to restaurant-grade, multi-cup espresso machines. An on-staff team of technicians also maintains and repairs the machines that java fans bring in.
There's something for everyone at The Den Coffee House & Cafe, from the drip coffee connoisseur to the gluten-free pastry lover. Hot and cold drinks are prepared with care by the Caffe D'Arte-certified baristas, and guests can pick up whole-bean coffees or loose-leaf teas for home brewing and drinking. Pastries and other sweets are baked fresh daily, including banana bread, gluten-free brownies, and signature cookies. The Coffee House also hosts several different types of alternative milks including coconut and almond. Live music on the weekends provides a lively atmosphere without the help of caffeine or by switching out sugar for smelling salt.
Local artwork adorns the walls within Java Zombie, a Kirkland café with an ambience as cozy and comforting as a pantsuit sewn from deconstructed teddy bears. Baristas here brew Vivace espresso, steam milk for lattes, and top rich hot chocolate with dollops of whipped cream.
In the morning, patrons can sink teeth into breakfast sandwiches and burritos. Later in the day, the focus turns to gourmet sandwiches made with Boar's Head meats and artisanal breads from The Essential Baking Company. The menu also includes vegetarian and vegan options and gluten-free pastries from Stone Layne. Free WiFi signals drift through the air, and bands play live music during special events.
At locations dotted all over the Pacific Northwest, Black Rock Coffee Bar’s baristas dazzle patrons' taste buds with their simple and elaborate coffee creations. Served in ink-black cups emblazoned with their understated lowercase logo and red stars, their hot drinks range from brewed coffee to chai-tea lattes to flavored mochas. The baristas infuse the mochas with extras—including white chocolate and caramel to create the caramel blondie and hazelnut to concoct the blackout mocha, which, unfortunately, will not make you black out for the entire workday. On the chilly side of the menu, their blended drinks include shake-like delights made sweeter with Oreos, mint chips, and chai, as well as smoothies and icy coffee granitas.
Cherry Street Coffee House displays local art, hosts live music, and holds events at each of its locations. Steam rises from blends of house coffees, forming the shape of perfume bottles that spritz the cafes with the aromas of Brazil nuts and dark cocoa. A medley of coffee beans from Papua New Guinea and Central and South America flavor the signature espresso, which guests can enjoy in between bites of house-made breakfast bagels, quiche, pastries, sandwiches, soups, and salads. Cherry Street's kitchen staff supplies a list of ingredients, highlighting which vibrant dishes are vegan, contain dairy and nuts, or plan to transform into dairy and nuts.
Each crowd-pleasing trio comes on a reusable platter that is handy for later serving B-list house guests. The Wandering Café asks that customers call 48 hours ahead. Home delivery costs extra (call for more information, as pricing varies by area), but The Wandering Café's highway-convenient location makes pick-up easy.