News Blog for Seattle's University District Neighborhood


#Mugshot Monday #11 -Ugly Mug Café: A Beautiful Surprise

November 3rd, 2014 · No Comments

Welcome to #MugShotMonday: a caffeine inspired journey to uncover the University district’s Cafés

Some of my favorite music I have ever heard I first heard in a café. It was at the Ugly Mug Café when I was a UW student in 1998 that I first heard and fell in love with Lhasa. To this day, when I hear her beautiful music, I remember this sweet little cafe.

Located on 43rd St in between the Ave and Brooklyn, The Ugly Mug Café currently faces a huge hole in the ground and a picturesque landscape of construction vehicles, a crane and little men in yellow jackets. With the building of the new U-district Light Rail Station, customers must walk past the road-closed and caution signs and find the entrance tucked away up a short flight of stairs.

But don’t let these signs deter you. Once you arrive and close the door behind you the commotion from the machinery is gone. It’s like you’re in a surreal and peaceful room overlooking all the chaos. It’s quite nice, actually — like a sudden shift in perspective.

Established in 1995, it caters to the expected patronage of students, professors, faculty and u-district residents. There have been a few shifts in ownership but Ugly Mug has been owned by a longtime barista of the café since 2010.

The Ugly Mug Café has a great chilled-out neighborhood feel while at the same time offering a serious cup of coffee.

Not only do they take their coffee seriously (see above photo), they also take seriously a commitment to the community by supporting local business with their offerings. They are also now a bonafide roaster of their beans at an off-site roastery.  In regards to their roasting, they emphasize that their focus is on creating not only a good coffee but also in building strong farm to table relations with their suppliers. For now they are offering Espresso, Colombian and Ethiopian Blends.

Another way they are community minded is in their work with Coffee Kids. Coffee Kids is an organization that creates education, health care, economic diversification, food security and capacity building projects in coffee-farming communities in Latin America.

Ugly Mug is a great little spot, and by little I do mean you should be prepared to share your table. While offering many nice nooks to sit in, there is limited seating. But that just adds to the cozy atmosphere of the place. You will enjoy this spot to get some good work done, read a book, meet with a friend or whatever it is you do with your café time.

In addition to scones, muffins and other pastries, they also have a breakfast menu

To add the final touch to my visit, as I was getting ready to leave, one of my favorite songs by the Velvet Underground was playing. Perfect!

Ugly Mug is located at 1309 NE 43rd St. (206) 547-3219