News Blog for Seattle's University District Neighborhood


#Mugshot Monday #12 -Trabant Coffee & Chai: Satellite of (coffee) Love

November 13th, 2014 · No Comments


*Apologies for the Tartiness…Let’s just pretend this week’s been like one long Monday!

From the German word meaning satellite or traveling companion, Trabant was an East German car that had somewhat of a bad reputation as poorly performing with an outdated and inefficient engine. It was a symbol of the East Germany as many East German Trabant owners abandoned their cars upon migrating to the west after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I am not sure what Trabant  has to do with coffee or chai. Perhaps Trabant Coffee & Chai gravitated to VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke‘s Trabant for its name because it was inspired by Russia’s Sputnik; sputnik is the Russian word for satellite or companion. If you look around the cafe, you will notice a space-traveling theme.

Or maybe the owners went a little deeper into the meaning as dark, hot beverages can really serve as companions through the dismally cold winter months of the pacific northwest. I can also see that, as a patron of local cafes, I could be seen as a satellite of sorts since I seem to orbit reliably around my coffee habit.

Regardless of its namesake, Trabant is a cafe just off the ‘Ave’ on 45th right in the middle between the Neptune Theater and American Apparel.

I showed up on a Monday afternoon and ordered a split-shot americano. I was going to order a Chai and a shot but I chickened-out on trying a new chai that I hadn’t tried before. They Serve Maya Tea‘s Chai which is a concentrate (not my favorite way to make chai). Readers of this column know that my bias is towards my favorite local chai company. Maya is a tea company out of Arizona and according to one of the Trabant baristas, their chai is really good. I will have to be brave and try it next time.

The barista pulled my americano (they serve Kuma Coffee here) and then re-pulled it when he decided the shot was off – I like a barista who knows what he’s doing! Ultimately, my cup was perfectly poured and hit the spot, albeit being half decaf.

Trabant has that subtle anti-artsy artsy vibe. A place for the intellectual bookish crowd, students, after movie chats and pre-show meet-ups at the Neptune  Theater.

They serve the usual coffee house assortment of snacks and they have bagels and cream cheese, soups and some other more hearty meal like options.

There is plenty of seating including a balcony for a more intimate atmosphere. The place has full front windows overlooking the hustle and bustle of 45th street, yet it doesn’t feel hectic inside.

I liked it here. I had always felt a little too intimidated to come in here because it’s on a busy street, but like I mentioned before, once I got through the doors the atmosphere was calm and had a good vibe. Next time you are in the u-district for a movie at the Grand Illusion or the Varsity or after a book signing at the U-bookstore or just need a quite place to read the comic book you just bought at the Comic Stop next door, this is a nice little spot.

I had fun chatting with my two baristas, Elias and Ben about what Trabant meant.

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