News Blog for Seattle's University District Neighborhood

 

#Mugshot Monday #13 -Chaco Canyon Café — Where Slow ? Bad

November 18th, 2014 by master

WELCOME TO #MUGSHOTMONDAY *: A CAFFEINE INSPIRED JOURNEY TO UNCOVER THE UNIVERSITY DISTRICT’S CAFÉS

If You have never had the chance to visit Chaco Canyon and you have an interest in Raw, Vegan or Organic food, then b-line it straight to Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe. What you will find is an introduction to the Slow Movement, delicious food and a warm atmosphere that will satisfy any craving.

For a lot of Seattleites, the idea of a quick cup of coffee or a quick bite to eat is something that we habitually gravitate towards. At Chaco Canyon, they go to a lot of trouble of slowing things down. For this establishment, fast ? good and slow ? Bad.

Check out their Hot Beverage Offerings..Not your Average Cup of Joe Indeed! Click image to enlarge.

Although, Chaco Canyon is more of an eatery than just a café, it’s still a perfectly acceptable place to get some work done. I ordered a bowl of dahl and a latte (check out their menu) and found myself a small table by one of the many windows. I felt perfectly comfortable getting my computer out and getting some writing done. I wouldn’t say that about most eatery café’s. Usually, restaurants don’t want you lingering too long. This place is different. With its southwestern decor, warmly painted colors and flavorful food smells, this is the kind of place that you want to settle into; and they seem to want you to settle in and enjoy as well.

In addition to a whole wall dedicated to community events (it’s right in front, not hidden down the end of a hallway next to a bathroom), Chaco Canyon is extremely involved in programs to help make its establishment accessible to everyone — even people who can’t afford it. Including programs to pay-it-forward that will buy someone else a coffee to encouraging folks to donate to their community bowl program, this place not only fills your belly with goodness, but also others in need.

Got allergies to everything? They have a lot of ways to work around your food issues and are open to helping you find a menu option to fit your diet. They also have some lovely retail items such as sprouting kits, cookbooks, chili mixes, local jewelry and more.

Got Allergies? Fear not. Chaco wants you to feel safe!

The bottom line here is, if you have been avoiding Chaco Canyon because you are afraid it’ll be gross hippy food in a passive-aggressive atmosphere, I assure you there is none of that pseudo-peace-y vibe here. It’s just a bunch of people who really care about the food they are serving you and want it to be just right. One of their mottos is “the best things in life are free, the next best things are organic.” Sounds like a place that cares to me!

The only thing I recommend is, if you find yourself in a hurry this is not the place for you. Not because the service will be slow (mine was incredibly fast), but because at Chaco Canyon it’s about enjoyment, savoring, taking the time to be present. If you are craving a little time to be here now, you will love the vibe here. If waiting in line to order will make your skin crawl because you are trying to catch a bus and you’re already late for work– I would maybe skip it and come back when you have had time to breath.

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#Mugshot Monday #13 -Chaco Canyon Café — Where Slow ≠ Bad

November 18th, 2014 by master

WELCOME TO #MUGSHOTMONDAY *: A CAFFEINE INSPIRED JOURNEY TO UNCOVER THE UNIVERSITY DISTRICT’S CAFÉS

If You have never had the chance to visit Chaco Canyon and you have an interest in Raw, Vegan or Organic food, then b-line it straight to Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe. What you will find is an introduction to the Slow Movement, delicious food and a warm atmosphere that will satisfy any craving.

For a lot of Seattleites, the idea of a quick cup of coffee or a quick bite to eat is something that we habitually gravitate towards. At Chaco Canyon, they go to a lot of trouble of slowing things down. For this establishment, fast ≠ good and slow ≠ Bad.

Check out their Hot Beverage Offerings..Not your Average Cup of Joe Indeed! Click image to enlarge.

Although, Chaco Canyon is more of an eatery than just a café, it’s still a perfectly acceptable place to get some work done. I ordered a bowl of dahl and a latte (check out their menu) and found myself a small table by one of the many windows. I felt perfectly comfortable getting my computer out and getting some writing done. I wouldn’t say that about most eatery café’s. Usually, restaurants don’t want you lingering too long. This place is different. With its southwestern decor, warmly painted colors and flavorful food smells, this is the kind of place that you want to settle into; and they seem to want you to settle in and enjoy as well.

In addition to a whole wall dedicated to community events (it’s right in front, not hidden down the end of a hallway next to a bathroom), Chaco Canyon is extremely involved in programs to help make its establishment accessible to everyone — even people who can’t afford it. Including programs to pay-it-forward that will buy someone else a coffee to encouraging folks to donate to their community bowl program, this place not only fills your belly with goodness, but also others in need.

Got allergies to everything? They have a lot of ways to work around your food issues and are open to helping you find a menu option to fit your diet. They also have some lovely retail items such as sprouting kits, cookbooks, chili mixes, local jewelry and more.

Got Allergies? Fear not. Chaco wants you to feel safe!

The bottom line here is, if you have been avoiding Chaco Canyon because you are afraid it’ll be gross hippy food in a passive-aggressive atmosphere, I assure you there is none of that pseudo-peace-y vibe here. It’s just a bunch of people who really care about the food they are serving you and want it to be just right. One of their mottos is “the best things in life are free, the next best things are organic.” Sounds like a place that cares to me!

The only thing I recommend is, if you find yourself in a hurry this is not the place for you. Not because the service will be slow (mine was incredibly fast), but because at Chaco Canyon it’s about enjoyment, savoring, taking the time to be present. If you are craving a little time to be here now, you will love the vibe here. If waiting in line to order will make your skin crawl because you are trying to catch a bus and you’re already late for work– I would maybe skip it and come back when you have had time to breath.

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

November 13th, 2014 by master

WELCOME TO #MUGSHOTMONDAY *: A CAFFEINE INSPIRED JOURNEY TO UNCOVER THE UNIVERSITY DISTRICT’S CAFÉS

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

November 13th, 2014 by master

WELCOME TO #MUGSHOTMONDAY *: A CAFFEINE INSPIRED JOURNEY TO UNCOVER THE UNIVERSITY DISTRICT’S CAFÉS

*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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#Mugshot Monday #7 – SureShot Espresso's Got Grit

September 22nd, 2014 by master

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

As I opened the door and walked into Sureshot Espresso, I was greeted with the nostalgic scent of cafe’s from my past. A combination of coffee bean dust, old furniture and grit. I could tell that this place was used to well worn boots and quirky ideas. Personally, that makes me like a place.

Kind of like the Star Wars Cantina but without aliens and alcohol,” says Scott L. from a review on Yelp. I have to agree. This place seems to me to be a meeting place for a motley crew of patrons.

There were two grungy but sweet looking guys on the couch having a conversation about Hemp Fest and another guy quietly surfing the internet on one of the computers they have there for public use. (you get 15 minutes complimentary with a minimum purchase of $2) They even have printers for folks to use at 20 cents a sheet.

Another fun thing to know is they have a room of pinball machines! Not only that, they have Mrs. Pac-man and my personal all time favorite, Galaga!

Grit-Noun
1.Small, loose particles of stone or sand. 2.Courage and resolve; strength of character
In addition to a menu of tasty pastries and lunch items, they also serve white coffee. I chatted up the barista about what exactly white coffee is. He explained to me that it has a different taste and more caffeine than traditional dark roast coffee. The beans are flash roasted, meaning that they are very lightly roasted. Sureshot was the first cafe to offer it in Seattle and has been serving it now close to a decade. They have a loyal following because of it.

Sureshot is frequented by students and neighbors alike and they have a modest amount of seating for hanging out. Located conveniently near the corner of 45th and University Ave, they are open daily for 7am to 12am.

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#Mugshot Monday #7 – SureShot Espresso’s Got Grit

September 22nd, 2014 by master

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

As I opened the door and walked into Sureshot Espresso, I was greeted with the nostalgic scent of cafe’s from my past. A combination of coffee bean dust, old furniture and grit. I could tell that this place was used to well worn boots and quirky ideas. Personally, that makes me like a place.

Kind of like the Star Wars Cantina but without aliens and alcohol,” says Scott L. from a review on Yelp. I have to agree. This place seems to me to be a meeting place for a motley crew of patrons.

There were two grungy but sweet looking guys on the couch having a conversation about Hemp Fest and another guy quietly surfing the internet on one of the computers they have there for public use. (you get 15 minutes complimentary with a minimum purchase of $2) They even have printers for folks to use at 20 cents a sheet.

Another fun thing to know is they have a room of pinball machines! Not only that, they have Mrs. Pac-man and my personal all time favorite, Galaga!

Grit-Noun
1.Small, loose particles of stone or sand. 2.Courage and resolve; strength of character
In addition to a menu of tasty pastries and lunch items, they also serve white coffee. I chatted up the barista about what exactly white coffee is. He explained to me that it has a different taste and more caffeine than traditional dark roast coffee. The beans are flash roasted, meaning that they are very lightly roasted. Sureshot was the first cafe to offer it in Seattle and has been serving it now close to a decade. They have a loyal following because of it.

Sureshot is frequented by students and neighbors alike and they have a modest amount of seating for hanging out. Located conveniently near the corner of 45th and University Ave, they are open daily for 7am to 12am.

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Mugshot Monday #6 – Tea Republik: Where Tea Holds Supreme Power Over the Bean

September 8th, 2014 by master

Welcome to #MugShot Monday: a caffeine inspired journey to uncover University Ave’s Cafés

I rolled down the Ave. on my bike past dense pockets of cannabis air, past Starbucks, past the Vape Store and found myself in front of Tea Republik.

Still on my coffee cleanse, I was thankful that my next MugShot Monday adventure would not be filled with the aroma of espresso while having to sip on a less-than-exciting cup of generic tea.

Tea Republic welcomed me with a nicely designed interior, warm lighting and a very friendly and helpful –would he still be considered a barista?– let’s just call him Tea-Guy!

I happened upon Tea Republik on a quiet morning, however, Manager Daniel a.k.a. the Tea-Guy said that once classes start up they get considerably more business. Although not strict about people ‘camping‘ with their laptops and school books, he occasionally has to remind patrons to help pay the rent!

While they have generous evening hours of operation, this republik is not for morning people:

Monday – Thursday 11am-11pm
Friday – 10am-12am
Saturday – 11am-12am
Sunday – 11am – 10pm

I ordered a London Fog, but after sitting down and looking at the tea menu I had buyers remorse and realized I should have ordered their Lavender Cream Earl Grey ($4.49 for a large pot, $3.99 for a small). Regardless, the tea arrived to my table and was delightful to sip. I had asked if he could sweeten it with honey instead of sugar of which he did without a blink of an eye.

In addition to House Specialties, Loose Leaf, Traditional, Caffeinated or Decaf, and an assortment of Flavored Teas, they also serve pre-made sandwiches and have bakery items if you have a hankering for something sweet.

I loved sipping and refilling my little tea cup. There is something so satisfying about pouring tea. I am sure I am tapping into the ancient art of the the Tea Ceremony. It’s a sweet reminder to slow down and breathe.

With its clean and inviting space (I even checked out the immaculate bathroom) the Tea Republic is the perfect atmosphere for students and people who need to get out of their home office. Daniel would like to add that this Republic is not a library, so make sure you purchase well and often if you plan to be there for a while — and I might add, tip your Tea Guy!

Tea Republik

4527 University Way NE

Seattle, Washington

(206) 497-7631

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Mugshot Monday #5 – Remembering Long Lost Cafés of the Ave.

September 1st, 2014 by master

Welcome to MugShot Monday: a caffeine inspired journey to uncover University Ave’s Cafés

Front view of the Last Exit on Brooklyn / Photo Cred:Moss Willow via Wikipedia

For Labor Day I felt it would be nice to take a break from visiting up-and-running cafés and look back at some Cafés of Old in the University District.

It was a time before the internet and laptop computers. Before people were glued to their social media and texts. Before a cafe had to advertise free wi-fi to have street-cred. Back then, going to a cafe was really about wanting connection, a conversation, a moment of reflection with a cup of coffee, a pen, journal and a thought. It was a place to read Kafka,  poetry or write your own story. We didn’t obsess about coffee brands, gluten-free or Grande vs. Venté.

Cafe culture was about getting out and listening to the buzz on the street; being open to a more colorful collection of faces and delving into the dark-roasted realm of coincidence and spontaneity.

I moved to Seattle when I was 20 years old and my first job was at the Espresso Roma Cafe (where the Cafe on the Ave. now sits). Back then it was the waning years of grunge. We had to keep a close watch on the bathroom since folks would duck in and shoot up and fall asleep in there. It seemed like every one of my co-workers was in a band….hmmmm I guess not a lot has changed.

One of my favorite places to go for breakfast was The Black Cat (Brooklyn near Campus Parkway) The Black Cat was a vegan leaning vegetarian joint run by a collective of anarchy inspired punks and was operated for five years in the mid-90’s. The decor was a collection of remnants, mis-matched furniture and bike parts. It was a great place to go and feel apart of the Seattle sub-culture.

No posts about long-loved and lost cafes would be complete without an ode to Last Exit on Brooklyn. Appropriately situated on Brooklyn Ave., it opened in 1967 and sadly closed in 2000 not too long after a relocation to N. University Ave. According to Wikipedia, in 1985 it was deemed one of “Americas second oldest continuously run coffeehouses”. It was a spot you couldn’t help feel the vibe of the Grateful Dead, true hippy-dom and authentic bohemian round table conversation.  Body-odor shy people probably made a point to stay away because of an unspoken rule that with enough patchouli, showers were optional. It was also famously a meeting spot for chess players amateur and professional, including such players as  Peter BiyiasasViktors Pupols, and Yasser Seirawan. Last Exit remains a legend of Seattle café culture.

When Last Exit closed in 2000, many of the colorful grab-bag of patrons found their way down to The Pearl in the middle of the 4200 block of University Ave.

Saving the best for last, The Pearl was the beautifully inspired vision of Robynne Hawthorne whose love of literature, art and culture could be seen in every detail of the place. From the amazing mural her friend painted with magical and ghostly figures on the back wall to the beautiful finely crafted bar area. I saw Laura Viers play in her early years, and Jason Webley preformed his memorable musical performance art. The Jelly Rollers were frequent players and I always enjoyed doing my homework sitting next to the owner’s two beautiful young daughters.

Cafés will always be a place I crave to go and sit with a cup of coffee or chai. I still look for that independent café that offers an atmosphere that rises above the on-the-go coffee crowd, computer plug-ins and get-em-out the door vibe. In Seattle, a café that offers a warm interior with ambient light, an interesting staff, local offerings and consistently diverse music playing is where I will come back to.

Today, independent bookstores, video stores, record stores and cafés are all being challenged by today’s big business market. But it’s important to remember that they have been the backbone of youth culture, independent arts and creative expression in cities. In my opinion, independent cafés are needed to create a meeting space for people, ideas and diversity.

Today as we remember independent cafés of old, head out to your favorite spot and make sure you tip your barista extra good!

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