My goal in 2017 is to visit every eating/drinking establishment in my neighborhood of Fremont, Seattle, updating my 2014 reviews. Here are my reviews for the coffee places I visited. See more reviews.
**** One of my faves!
*** On my regular “go to” list
** I’d go if a friend wanted to
* No thanks
**** (2017) Fremont Coffee A fave place. I divide my Fremont coffee allegiance between here and Starbucks—local coffee house and corporate-sized local coffee house. Love the cozy setting and I just discovered their new garden area. Down a stairway that used to go to a gravel parking lot and now goes to a charming, peaceful garden area. Coziest Fremont coffee house on those gray Seattle days. (Downtown Fremont)
(2014 review) Always a favorite. The coffee is good, the baristas pleasantly quirky (one was telling me about his horrified response when someone came in and rapidly fired off a “Starbucks-like” order with lots of complicated instructions…”We’re a lot more laid back here,” he told me).I love their outdoor deck. I do some of my best work on my laptop, sitting in their wicker chairs, listening to the fountain, and watching Fremont life pass by.
**** (2017) Starbucks I am sometimes criticized for frequenting corporate monster Starbucks when there are so many local coffee houses. But, hey, in Seattle, Starbucks IS a local coffee house! And I have a weakness for their frappucinos … and their patio that looks out over the bustle of 34th and Fremont Ave … and their nearness to my house. The layout is a bit quirky, and the seating on the main floor makes you crouch under the stairway or “relax” in armchairs in the middle of where people wait for their coffee. But I’ve done some of my best work at the tables upstairs, feet curled around my chair, looking out over Fremont Avenue. My only complaint is the ventilation that blows right on my head while sitting at the tall counter … not pleasant on a gray Seattle day. (Downtown Fremont)
(2014 review) A classic, and I’m a gold card carrying member. I’m even more of a fan since they moved to their new location where you can sit outside, sipping a frappucino, in the center of the Center of the Universe and watch the world of Fremont swirl by.
*** (2017) Irwin’s This was a regular stop for me on my way to work, then I changed my route to work. (Oddly enough, it’s actually slower to take the “express” lanes than it is to go through the “Mercer mess.” But I digress.) It was always a quick stop for me—grab a morning Americano and go. A couple weeks ago, I met a friend there for coffee, hung out in the comfy overstuffed chairs, caught up. What a friendly place! (Extra credit, Wallingford)
(2014 review) The coffee place that’s on my way to work, so it’s a great stop when I don’t have time to make coffee at home. Plus they have good peanut butter cookies (the premier of cookies)…and scones…and sandwiches. The barista with weird piercings gave me pause, but it’s all part of the quirky neighborhood experience.
*** (2017) Café Vita Another confirmation that it’s good to re-visit spots that I haven’t been to since my last Fremont Eatery Walkabout. It was fine last time, but didn’t wow me. But it’s proving to be a charming place to do some blogging while sipping an iced mocha on a spring day that is trying to decide if it should be warm or cold. How can anyone not love a place where you can have a lively discussion with the barista about Star Trek while he’s making your mocha? And since the path from my house to here is uphill, I can even feel virtuous about getting some exercise. (Upper Fremont)
(2014 review) Coffee was fine. Probably a cozy atmosphere if you live near enough, but not a primary spot for me.
*** (2017) Solsticio I have discovered smoothies! Not that I’d never had them before. But I thought of this as a coffee place and didn’t really venture here often (as there are so many coffee places in Fremont). Then I went on an energizing bike ride … and right at the point where I turn off the Burke-Gilman to go uphill toward my home is Solsticio. It seemed like a good break point. I thought about coffee. I thought about pastries. And then I read their menu of smoothies and I was hooked. This has become my regular post-bike ride stop! (34th Street)
(2014 review) Nice little coffee place that also has sandwiches (though I wasn’t there at the right time of day to try one). Great place to stop if you’re biking/walking the Burke-Gilman Trail.
*** (2017) MiiR My choices here are coffee, beer, water bottles, or bikes. It’s an eclectic mix, but for a good cause. MiiR dedicates a portion of their sales to community development projects, bringing clean water and healthcare improvements to rural communities around the world. The coffee not only tastes good, but you can feel good about drinking it. (Stone Way)
** (2017) Sea Wolf Not quite sure what niche to put this one in. They have coffee – but apparently just basic coffee without all the latte/mocha/cappuccino options one expects in a Seattle coffee house. The first time I was there, I was in heaven as they had Laugenbroetchen, my absolute favorite bread from Germany. The next time, there were none. #HugeDisappointment. Of course, calling them “Lye Rolls” (sounds poisonous) might have resulted in lack of sales. I hear they have amazing croissants, but that’s not my go-to bread item. So still working on why I need to be here.
P.S. After this initial review, I ran into them at a local farmers market and they swear to me that they have Laugenbroetchen on a regular basis. I guess I’ll try again. (Stone Way)
** (2017) Lighthouse This is either the best place to go and write in the neighborhood or the most frustrating place. It has no wifi. That should, of course, keep me from distraction while writing. But I found I was so distracted at the lack of wifi that I kept looking at my phone (connected via the T-Mobile network) to see what was going on out in Facebook and email land. It’s a charming place. And their pastries were excellent. But even if I lived closer I’m not sure I could make this a regular spot. (Upper Fremont)
(2014 review) Kind of a fun, sitting-on-the-coffee-warehouse-dock atmosphere. Coffee was good as was the scone or muffin or whatever I had. Too far to become a regular hangout for me, but a worthy stop.
** (2017) Etg Excellent coffee and acceptable peanut butter cookies (an important barometer of success). But it’s really only a place to grab coffee to go (almost no seating capacity). And since, if I’m in my ‘hood, I’m usually looking for a place to settle (and usually to blog), it’s not a place I’m likely to go often. (Downtown Fremont)
(2014 review) A quaint and funky little place with excellent coffee, friendly servers, and really good peanut butter cookies. It’s best if you’re looking for coffee to go as there’s virtually nowhere to sit and enjoy your coffee—one small table inside and a couple of old-time (uncomfortable) wood theater-type chairs on the sidewalk.
** (2017) Lucca A bit hard to find (the “coffee” sign should be a giveaway, but it’s tucked back a bit off the street), but a very efficient drive-through coffee place. The barista cheerfully serves cars through windows on both sides of the hut, multitasking by chatting with me about my order while making the order for the car on the other side. She warned me about the heat of the coffee but alas, I did not take into account the impact on the chocolate-covered cacao bean. Melty chocolate smudged everywhere—which is not a bad problem to have. (Leary Way)
(2014 review) Good coffee, extremely friendly barista. Good place if you want drive-through coffee and aren’t in a hurry.
** (2017) Flying Apron Pro tip for non-gluten-free people—the molasses/ginger cookies are to die for. I bought a bunch of cookies here for a celebration at work where a number of people have gluten issues. The cookies went fast! And even for bring-on-the-gluten me, the ginger/molasses cookies were a melt-in-your-mouth treat. (Downtown Fremont)
(2014 review) I don’t need to eat gluten free and didn’t feel the need to try this gluten-free bakery until a friend (who does need to eat gluten free) suggested it. I had a surprisingly good oatmeal cookie. So, while it’s not the first place I’d think of going, I’m happy to go there with any gluten-free friends.
** (2017) Vif Coffee/Wine A pleasant surprise. I was really frustrated by this place last time (never seemed to be open when I wanted coffee or wine, although they call themselves a coffee and wine place). But I dropped in on a whim when I happened to be walking by and found a yummy tartine with coffee. I guess that having low expectations are a plus. The prize-winning moment – they have peanut butter cookies. Simple, soft, no-distracting-chocolate peanut butter cookies. These are my all-time favorite and surprisingly hard to find. But I’ve found them. Gave ‘em an extra star this year for their cookies. (Upper Fremont)
(2014 review) It took perseverance to try this place. I went there three times and it was closed (once because of my own ignorance of their hours, twice because they either decided to spontaneously close early or randomly changed their hours). I had the vision of a glass of wine after dinner…but apparently that’s not their vision. What kind of wine place closes at 7 p.m.?
When I finally gave up my vision of an evening glass of wine, I decided to try them for lunch (and a glass of wine) and stopped by at noon on a weekend…only to discover they weren’t serving their lunch menu (and the grilled gruyere sandwich I had my eye on).
So then I gave up my vision of Vif as a lunch place, focused on Vif as a coffee place—and successfully achieved coffee and a scone. After all that trouble, the scone was good. But not good enough to go there four separate times and that’s all I end up with.
They clearly have a weird business model that doesn’t fit my expectations, but other people don’t seem to have this problem since the tables are often full. As a coffee place, I have better options in Fremont. As a wine place, their hours don’t make sense. Crossing it off my list.
** (2017) Milstead Coffee Cozy atmosphere and the absolute best peanut butter cookies. But I’m basically screwed because they do not deign to serve decaf and I completely decaffeinated myself a few years ago. I guess I’ll have to continue my morning grazing routine of buying a peanut butter cookie here, then continuing my walk to Starbucks (where I can get decaf but no peanut butter cookie). P.S. After my official 2017 visit, they moved into new digs in a new building. Their new spot is light and airy with a nice patio. I might have to risk some caffeine. (Downtown Fremont)
(2014 review) They don’t serve decaf, so it’s a nonstarter for me. But they DO have good peanut butter cookies. I sometimes come here for the peanut butter cookie, then take it to Starbucks where I can drink the coffee.
* (2017) Caffe Ladro I had high hopes when I saw the specialty drink “Café Medici” (a mocha with orange) on the menu. This was my all-time favorite eons ago when Starbucks served their Mocha Valencia (which is, alas, now off the menu…every so often, I leave comments on their website to get it back). Caffe Ladro’s version was OK, but not very orange-y. So once again, my allegiance to Starbucks (for their drinks and location) and Fremont Coffee (for their drinks and cozy atmosphere) goes unchallenged. (And a side note: On my last visit, my body suspected them of slipping me caf instead of decaf. Today, my body is telling me they used regular milk instead of the more digestible almond milk I’d asked for. Things that make you say, “hmmmm.”) (Downtown Fremont)
(2014 review) Although the barista was friendly, I think she slipped me a caffeinated coffee rather than the decaf I asked for. I’m willing to accept that was an honest mistake and don’t have anything particularly negative to say about Ladro, but it didn’t persuade me to change from my favorite Fremont coffee places.
* (2017) Lama G’s This atmosphere here always seems more deserted than cozy. But then I remembered that Midnight Cookies is next door. So I stopped by there for one of their special “Cookies and Cream,” then hopped over for an Americano at Lama G’s to wash it down. Mmm…. (Just off Stone Way)
(2014 review) Lama G’s It’s near my house, so I tried it fairly early on in my Fremont life. It’s nice, the people are pleasant. But the Buddhist vibe in their outdoor seating area doesn’t really draw me in. One of my neighbors related a funny story about being treated to a metaphysical treatise there on how God and dog (god spelled backwards) are the same and that dogs were holy or something. It freaked him out a bit. Not having heard it, it merely sounds funny to me. But I like the atmosphere of other coffee places better, so this is a pass.
CLOSED (** in 2014) The Way Station Feels like you’ve walked into someone’s garage (which you probably have). I think I was the only person there who wasn’t a regular as they were greeting everyone by name, asking about the health of their dogs, etc. Coffee was fine, breakfast sandwich was mediocre, but I think this place is more about quirky atmosphere than food. (Leary Way)