Up until a few years ago, I didn’t drink coffee at all – drip, espresso, caffe latte, whatever. That all changed in one night. We were at a cooking class at Dish It Up! in Magnolia, and at the end of the evening our hosts offered to make espresso for everyone in the class. As always, I declined. Dawn took a sip of hers, and insisted I try it. Now, Dawn had spent years offering me tastes of her espresso drinks, and I had concluded that coffee was just not my thing – I felt perfectly content exploring oolong and pu-erh teas. But tonight, Dawn was persistent; I had to try this. Ok, ok, fine, if it makes you happy. And then – wow, what was this? The flavor was amazing, complex, rich, intense. One perfect shot, and I was hooked. How convenient to be living in Seattle and suddenly loving coffee! But then I thought of all the good coffee I missed out on during earlier trips to Italy. Oh, the humanity! I had a lot of lost time to make up for.
And so began my interest in learning all about coffee – trying new coffee shops every week, discovering what kinds of beans, roasts, and blends I liked, and watching amazingly skilled baristi pour rosetta patterns. That first fateful espresso was made with beans from a small roaster in Seattle called True North, and we were lucky to find Cloud City Coffee just up the street using their beans. We hung out at Lighthouse Roasters in Fremont, I dragged Dawn to four months of coffee cupping classes at Victrola, we sipped nutty cappuccini at Top Pot (made with Zeitgeist-roasted beans), and so on. However, it didn’t take long for Espresso Vivace in Capitol Hill to become my favorite place for all things espresso. While I like the atmosphere more in their Capitol Hill roasteria, we’re nearly regulars at their new-ish Yale Ave N location, which is a little more conveniently located for us. I usually get a cappuccino or macchiato on the weekend, while Dawn is a fan of the caffe caramel.
Two years ago, I started making espresso drinks at home, and I like how the northern Italian-style Vita and Dolce blends from Espresso Vivace produce excellent crema with every shot. I got so much into learning about making the perfect cup of coffee that I even bought David Schomer’s book and video (Schomer founded Vivace), and they’ve been excellent resources. And we made a new discovery recently: raw skim milk. We typically use skim milk at home, which definitely tastes different than the fattier drinks we get when we go out. So when I tried using raw skim milk from Sea Breeze Farm for some drinks, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had a consistency much like whole milk. Dawn says she’s hooked on this new combination, and I like how it’s made latte hearts even easier to pour!
901 East Denny Way and other locations, Seattle