Visiting Seattle coffee houses

Visiting Seattle coffee houses

Today, I am writing about the best coffeeshops in Seattle and around Washington.  I am hesistant to used the word best sometimes because best is a subjective term.

All the different types of coffee shops

Some people love the coffee shops that play Indie music.  Others like coffee shops that caters organic goods.  In the vincinity of Seattle and outside of Seattle,  you can find a dozen type of theme filled coffe shops: movie theme based,  writer’s coffee shops, art decor coffee shops.   Some of the coffee shops I had been to try to personalize their cafe, like you are visting a friend’s house, or someone’s living room.  And, if you don’t have the patience to go in to order coffee, you can go through a drive through, pulling up to a litte cute coffee java hut.

By saying all  that I think it is best to use the word favorite. Everyone has a favorite coffee house that they like to go to. Me,  included. These days mostly it’s the mom and pop places, though every once in a while I still go hang out at that coffee place that changed my love for coffee.

If you are new in town, Seattle is broken down to neighborhoods.  You will find that the more proximate the neigbohood is to  near to  Downtown Seattle, the more coffee houses that neigborhood has. There are a few exceptions.  The east side to is broken down similiary by neighborhood, and they to have amassed a collection of coffee houses.  What I have found though was that every neighborhood that I had visited in Seattle or outskirts of Seattle had at least one wonderful place to go and drink coffee.  Just ask the locals.

Here is a list of some and I will add to the list.

Coffee shops in Seattle

Downtown Seattle: Which street? would be the question. In the heart of downtown, there are so many but one is all I get.  Seattle Coffee Works

Downtwon Seattle in the financial district: Joelle’s Espresso Cafe (keep in mind they are only open during the weekdays since they cater to the 7 to 5 working crowd.

Belltown: Uptown Expresso

Magnolia: Caffe Appassionato Coffee

Upper Queen Ann: El Diablo Coffee

Lower Queen Ann: Caffe Ladro

Capitol Hill: Starbucks

Fremont: Milstead and Co

Pioneer Square: Cafe Vita

Wallngword: Zoka Coffee Roaster and Tea Company

If you have a favorite let me know. Maybe I haven’t tried it.

Visiting Seattle coffee houses

Visiting Seattle coffee houses

Ordering speciality coffee in Seattle

Ordering speciality coffee in Seattle

At my old workplace, one of my coworker/friend invited me to downstairs to have coffee with her on our break. It was a chilly winter day. Our office was in downtown in Seattle in one of the tall buildings. Two famous coffee shops competed with each other on two different floors inside the tall building.

There were dozens of Ma and Pa coffee shops in the building, too.  Actually when I think of it, there are practically five or six coffee houses in Downtown Seattle in one block.  Sometimes, two of the same kind of coffee houses are just a block apart. However, my friend most preferred the coffee with the Mermaid Logo.  She did go to the competitors when her regular barista was not in making coffee.

This was around the time; I just started learning about specialty coffee. Staring at the menu, I was slightly intimidated as far as what to order in the long line that was moving efficiently fast.  Ordering speciality coffee in Seattle, you have to learn the verincular of coffee procurement.   “I want a tall, um, to go, ahm.”  I told my freind to go ahead and order and I will order after her.

My friend was an expert at coffee ordering.  She introduced me to “two pumps of white chocolate mocha with 2% milk, with extra whipped cream and extra hot to go.” I ordered what she had with just one pump and just a small amount of whipped cream.  With that drink, my life changed.  I started actively seeking out coffee houses.  The white chocolate mocha replaced the occasional mocha I ordered on Fridays, and on cold, dark, and rainy days.

I then upgraded or downgraded depending on how you look at it, changing my request to a tall 2% vanilla latte. Being that it is Seattle, you can practically customize your coffee any way you want it. Sometimes, it is fun to hear people’s requests as I wait to order my coffee or waiting for my coffee to be whipped out on the counter.

Shortly afterwards, my brother introduced to me a wet cappuccino. I didn’t switch the taste of the vanilla to give it up for steamed milk in a cute cup.  Although I could had probably asked for vanilla in my cappuccino, I never did.

Since then I moved away from that building, landing myself in another in a building. But no matter where you go in Seattle, you can’t escape a coffee house with in half mile. When I say half a mile, I am being extremely conservative.

With the new location, I ventured out to try the local coffee shops in Seattle.  During weekends, I would venture out further away from Seattle and when I went out for out of town for weekend trips.

If you are new to the coffee world, or just visiting to Seattle/ Seattle area,  you could say “tall, to here, latte, single shot.”  But that doesn’t jive with the common tongue of coffee ordering in Seattle. Even if you do order like that; the baristas here still will work with you to get your coffee right. If you really want to learn some basic lingos, here is a quick basic guide on  how to order speciality coffee in Seattle.

Ordering coffee in Seattle and outskirts of Seattle

First, there are three types of coffee, I have seen in most places. There is regular coffee like drip coffee, there is expresso (pronounced espresso), and then there is specialty coffee.

  • Drip coffee is coffee at its basic, which is hot water poured over coffee ground manually or by machine.
  • Expresso is steam that has been forced at high pressure through coffee grounds, made with an expresso machine. (To me, it has strong, intense coffee flavor).
  • Specialty coffee is usually shot(s) of expresso, milk, and adding syrup and toppings to your caffeinated or decaffeinated drink based on your taste. It is more like a dessert than coffee.

Similarities of drip and specialty coffee:

  • They both come in two forms: either caffeinated or decaffeinated.
  • For both types of coffee you would need to know the size of cup you want your beverage.

Drip and specialty coffee sizes come in the following:

  • Short (8 fluid ounces), extra small.  (Typically, this is not on the menu, but you can request it)
  • Tall (12 ounces)
  • Grande (16 ounces)
  • Venti (20 ounces)
  • Trenta (31 Ounces)

When ordering at Starbucks, you order with the description of the size. Ex.  “I would like to order a Grande Macchiato to go.”

In the ma and pa stores, they usually go by cup ounces.

 Expresso comes in shots

  • 1 shot
  • 2 shots
  • 3 shots or however many you like

Expresso shots can be drank by itself or you can fancy it up. Couple of my friends I had been out with like to drink it like a shot. There are many ways to prepare expresso adding double shots and topping it with whipped cream for example.  Or you can order shots of expresso with just boiling hot water poured over, know as an Americano.

When ordering specialty coffee, keep in mind

For Starbucks, a 12-ounce latte comes with one shot of expresso.  For the Ma and Pa coffee houses that I had been, they typically serve 2 shots in a tall latte.  If you are in a ma and pa stores, and if you only want shot of expresso in your specialty coffee, you can say something like, “I would like to have a single shot, 12 ounce latte, whole milk, please”

Temperature

  • Extra hot
  • Warm
  • Cold

Milk

  • Whole
  • 2%
  • 1%
  • Breve
  • Soy
  • Almond

Syrups

  • Vanilla
  • Raspberry
  • Hazelnut
  • White chocolate
  • House made
  • Seasonal syrups

Example: “I would like a grande with 2 pumps of white chocolate and no whipped cream.”  Most places I had gone to comes with whipped cream on their white chocolate.  If you don’t want the whipped cream you have to specifically say that at the time you order.

Toppings

  • Whipped cream
  • Spices
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee bean

Temperature

  • Extra hot
  • Warm
  • Cold

Foam

  • No foam
  • Thin or light foam
  • Heavy foam

*Note: For most specialty coffees such as your mochas and lattes and cappuccinos:

  • Milk is steamed
  • A minimum of one shot of espresso comes with your specialty coffee. You can change the amount of espresso.
  • A thin layer of foam is topped. You can also request to have no foam or more or less foam.

By saying that a cappuccino is a beverage with equal parts of espresso, milk, and foam.  A wet cappuccino has more steamed milk than foam.  A dry cappuccino has more foam. You can sprinkle cinnamon and add sugar for a different taste.

Where are you going to drink your specialty coffee?

I would like a tall latte for “for here cup.”  For here means you would like to drink it at the coffee house with one of their cups, preferably the coffee mug.

“To go” means that you would get served in a to go cup, unless you brought your own coffee mug/cup.

The lingo of ordering speciality coffee in Seattle

You could order your coffee any way you like.  Typically the ordering of the speciality coffee starts with the size of the cup, amount of espresso, then you customize the rest.    If you are in ma and pa shop, your order would be something along the lines of “I would like to have a single shot, 12 ounce vanilla latte, whole milk with whipped cream, extra hot, for here cup.”

If you are in Starbucks you could say the same but their lingo is tall, grande and venti.  You could practice, “I would like to have a tall vanilla latte, with two shots with whole milk topped with whipped cream, extra hot, in a for here cup.”

Enjoy your latte, mocha, cappuccino, or what pleases your coffee tongue.

Ordering speciality coffee in Seattle

Ordering speciality coffee in Seattle

 

 

 

Finding a good single cup coffee maker for home

Finding a good single cup coffee maker for home

Living in the Pacific Northwest,makes me drink coffee more. After drinking many many cups of lattes and coffees from the great coffee houses, I had been wanting to make the perfect cup of coffee on my own

Making coffee looks easier than it is when the barista makes it for you.

Is finding a good single cup coffee maker for home that hard?

I did not realize what was all involved in making an aromatic, smooth, delightful cup of coffee.  Trying to make coffee for yourself requires research, especially if you are starting from zero.

I did some intense research on the Internet with some respected product review sources, asked a few friends of mine for tips, and off I went shopping to go get a coffee maker.

Off to thedepartment store I went because I had my 20% coupon.  With excitement I arrived and asked the lady in the department for help to find me the “best” coffee maker. I put best in quotation marks because I am finding as I do research “best” is really a subjective term when it comes to taste.

The lady who saw me knew I was serious about making my cup of Joe . She didn’t think she could handle that question herself.  She told me she was going to go and get me the “coffee connoisseur,”  And the head of that department happened to be the coffee connoisseur.

The coffee connoisseur happened to be man who was passionate about drinking coffee more than I.  We talked for few minutes about making the “best” coffee in the morning.  He said he drank three or four cups of coffee and drank through out the day.  I was more of one or two cups kind of coffee drinker.

Secrets to making good coffee

We exchanged some ideas about making good coffee.   It was a good thing that I did research about making coffee before I went to the store because I was able to keep up with him, sort of.

Of the primary importance is the coffee beans.

Then there is the question about bean roasting.  He added the type of coffee grinder that I should own one day if I am as a serious drinker as he was.

He confessed that he had tried several of the coffeemakers himself.  Of those that he tried, he was not quite satisfied until he found the one. I told him my criteria for the coffeemaker were just a few.

“Few is plenty,” he said.

I would like to have a stainless steel coffee maker.  The coffee maker should have a bursting aroma when it makes coffee. Finally, the coffee should not have burnt taste.

“Doable,” he said.

Shopping for a good single cup coffee maker for home

After we looked and reviewed several pieces of coffee makers that they kept in the store, he took me over to the corner and recommended the Capresso.  He said he has been drinking coffee from that for the many years and he considers it “the wall street of the coffeemaker.”

I still had many questions and he seemed to have answer for all. He even told me that Capresso even has an 800# for me to call in with questions. So, I told him I was going to take it home.

Functions I like of the coffee maker:

It makes good cup of coffee. The aroma is released as it squirts last the drop from machine to the cup.

A few things that I had to overlook: The temperature is not hot as I would I like. When I called the 800#, they recommended to me that I can warm up the stainless steel.  I didn’t mind doing that on the days I was off.  That would be an extra stop on those days, I would be running out of the house.  Also, they suggested that If I make 6 to 8 cups versus just 3 cups, my coffee would be a little hotter. That was great idea, if I were having a party.  Most days, I only needed two cups maximum.

When I learned that I have to change filters, pretty regularly even if I was only making one or two cups a day, I did more research.

As I did more research about filters, it led me to do more research.  I told one of my friends about my coffee issue.  My friend mentioned Melitta pour over cup, which I end up switching over to.

What I like about the Melitta is that is a simple, porcelain, and affordable and reusable “coffee machine.”

For the Melitta I need to buy the regular paper coffee filters. I bought the non-bleached filters and it makes me feel good to know that they are biodegradable.

Ready for coffee?

Ready for coffee?

 

 

 

 

Amazing benefits of walking with a purpose

Amazing benefits of walking with a purpose

There are runners around where I live.  They run, and run, and run, making me want to start running with them.  Some are old and some are young, but all look good running.   I am not a runner, though I have tried it for about a month.  I had the runner’s high one time.  It sure made me feel good for about twenty minutes.

I ran the next day, the runner’s high didn’t hit me the same way.  Attempting again, I was almost out of breath.  I didn’t stick to running.  However, I do like to go for hikes and walks.

Places I like to hike in Washington

Places I like to hike in Washington

I read that there are many benefits to walking but you have to figure out why walking is good for you.  Walking is a commitment from your busy scedule   I enjoy walking for walking sake.  Other times, I walk beacause I look forward to my dessert.   After my sugar challenge, I find desserts to be more of a prize of pure enjoyment than eating for the sake of just eating.

Walking to get ideas from your backyard

Walking does not give me a walker’s high, it just gives me a clear view of the area and sometimes it allows me to clear my mind.  Occasionally, I like to take a look at the walking app step count. The app gives me a good sense of whether I have been walking slacker or not.
One of the amazing benefits of walking with a purpose

One of the amazing benefits of walking with a purpose

Benefits of walking around your neighborhood

Some time ago, I was casually walking and lo and behold I found a nice cat just napping away.  I  wanted to go snuggle the cat. However, I didn’t think the cat wanted any company .  He or she, let’s just say for the purpose of this blog, the cat was a he.  The sweet looking cat just wanted to be left alone bathing in the glorious sun.

 He looked too adorable.  I thought I would just snap a quick picture of him sun bathing.  I didn”t think he even heard the sound of the camera.  This motivated me to finish my walk and not go grab a dessert but go home and take a nap.
Visiting Bellevue Botanical Garden

Visiting Bellevue Botanical Garden

Living in the Pacific Northwest, I can tell you that almost 8 months of the year it rains here. A rumor says the locals just say that to drive away tourists. That is funny.  Alright it doesn’t rain every single day for straight eight months but just about every week from October to June, there are drops and drops from the sky.  Many days I don’t mind it at all. This year, we have had a incredibly sunny days in October.

Now that I am almost finished with my novel one light year road trip, which would be a trilogy I wanted to reward myself with a new vista.

I took the opportunity to go see Bellevue Botanical Garden.  If you are a new visitor, Bellevue is a city across the water from Seattle. It sits east of Seattle. My friends had told me about the garden, but there are so many places in Western Washington to go to and places to go back to.  It never occurred to me to just go and visit until I started seeing the autumn trees changing.  I couldn’t’ get enough of seeing the autumn colors and I thought I would try out a new place.

The Northwest zen travel team, which would be the music man and the travel researcher took off to the garden to see what was special about the garden.

In the Bellevue Botanical Garden

Map of the Bellevue Botanical Garden

Map of the Bellevue Botanical Garden

The first part of the garden had beautiful blooms. Right next to the gift shop, beautiful white flowers sprayed their scent in the air.  It held the look of a white magnolia except the yellow was missing in the middle.   The aroma gave off that of a mild Gardenia.

The garden used a numbering system for your self guided tour.  Usually, I could find names of flowers or plants stuck on the ground, but not here.

Instead they had what they call scan and tap technology.  I tapped my phone and nothing scanned on my phone. I figured I needed an App.  No posted sign as of which App.

Moving along to self guide tour number three and four, I was seeing the same scanner. I couldn’t continue until I knew what some of the unique plants were. After I sought help, I downloaded the App called the QR Scanner.

After the installion of the App, I took the phone and scanned the funny lines on the post.

Tap and Scan needs QR App,visiting the Bellevue Botanical Garden

Tap and Scan needs QR App, visiting the Bellevue Botanical Garden

When the App read the code, a bleep sound blasted, like you are in the checkout at the grocery store.

Immediately after the sound, my phone screen popped with a number of labeled images similar to the flower that I was viewing.  Some of the images on the App appeared with similiar pictures of the flowers in the garden which didn’t help me identify the flower.

This one plant with a red flower was called dinosaur food plant.

The lay out of the garden

The landscape of the garden is divided into Spring Courtyard, Rock garden, Perrineal Border,  Waterwise gaden, Yao garden, and many more. The walkaway composed of gravel, cement and mini slopes.

Locations of the varied gardens

You will hear the city noises of cars passing by.

As we walked through the garden, more unique and colorful plants sprung its leaves, berries, or flowers. The garden didn’t house many tall trees but they did have a few healthy pine trees that were nicely planted along the path. Right in the middle they had a canopy of Bosnia maple in the Fuchsia Garden. It looked like those trees were trained to bend.  The autumn leaves fell as soon a breeze blew  Burning bushes framed the area nicely.

Down further a lantern stood which made it pretty to photograph. Passing through the doors were more trees.

My favorite part of the garden

A Tateuchi Viewing Pavillion was a nice touch in the Yao garden.  Inspiration for the Yao Garden comes from both Japan and from Northwest plants to create form and function.

Bellevue Botanical Garden Tateuchi Viewing Pavillion

Bellevue Botanical Garden Tateuchi Viewing Pavillion

A small waterfall cascaded down multiple levels. Down the same path we saw a pileated woodpecker doing what it does best.  Near me on the ground was a squirrel exploring like us.

The pileated woodpecker

The pileated woodpecker

And then walking up the small path led us to my favorite scene.  Bunch of orange and red maple leaves glowed under the sunset.

Maple trees basking the evening sun

Maple trees basking the evening sun

People were carrying their professional cameras. There were a couple of people holding a reflector right at the turning leaf  maple the garden.

We had to wait to walk through the path.  The foilage turning is definitely a spot for testing out your camera.We walked to another part of the garden while they finished shooting pictures.

The music man said, “Look, we found a hobbit door.”

We knocked on the small door.

The music man was hoping that Bilbo Baggins would open the door.

The door remained shut tight.  Sorry music man, he is on another adventure.

Is that a Hobbit house inside the Bellevue Botanical Garden?

Is that a Hobbit house inside the Bellevue Botanical Garden?

We went back to the maple trees and shot a few pictures, till closing time.  We covered most of the garden, except for a few areas.

Overall, the design of the garden provided a zen feeling.  I would consider Bellevue Botanical Garden to be a great photography zone in the near by Seattle area.

Tidbits:

They have tons of parking around the garden. There were only two spots left when we pulled up in our car.

Expect on sunny weekends, parking would be a problem, so schedule your trip, accordingly.

Admission to the garden is free.  The garden has a donation slot.

I read on one of their posts that they decorate the garden for Christmas known as Garden d’ Lights, for that tickets need to purchased.

This is must do activity for locals and first time visitors if you are in the Seattle/Bellevue area.

If you would like to see addiional pictures and signs at the time of our visit:

one of the trails in the garden

one of the trails in the garden

How to make mint tea from fresh leaves?

How to make mint tea from fresh leaves?

Got fresh mint leaves?

There is a beekeeper and a gardener who works near us.  He and his wife planted vegetables this past summer.  I yearned for what was inside their garden–– chives, Italian parsley,voluptious tomatoes, arugula. He and his wife gave me good ideas on how to grow my garden outside.  I did well with his instructions growing tomatoes.  I also grew cilantro and basil.  Once in a while my friend and I like to hang out at his “garden center.”  He and his wife had mint growing around their small beautiful garden.

I love the smell of fresh mint leaves.  His wife told me that they love to make mint tea with the fresh leaves, especially in the winter.

That sounded good to me when she said that.  Since, then I been wanting to grow my own mint.

The gardener told me to wait till fall and he would give us some of his off shots  from his garden.  Yesterday he plucked tons of mint from the ground  and left it on our front chair.

When I woke up this morning, I was wondering what was that pile of roots with green ends doing sitting on my outside chair?

“The gardener left it for us to plant.”

I heard mint is an easy plant to grow in the Pacific Northwest except don’t plant it on the ground unless you want mint sprouting all over your yard.  That gave me the urge to plant this in my outdoor pot garden.

After sorting through the hardy roots of the plants, I grabbed a pot and planted a few mints outside.  However, I thought about all those cold and rainy winter days when I might not want to go outside at the darkness of 4 pm on a Saturday to pull off leaves from the mint plant.  That scenario––I repeat for those darky and non stop rainy days in the Pacific Northwest made me wanted to grow indoor herbs where I can just pull off the leaves from my kitchen area.

I placed the single stems in a clear glass and pulled off the unneeded leaves so that the roots can grow.  When the roots emerge, I will place next ot my basil.  The leaves I pulled off got dropped into cups to make mint tea.  There are few ways to make mint tea.  Here is the easiest way for me.

 Steps to make mint tea:

  • Get fresh mint leaves.
  • Wash them couple of times to remove any dirt and debris.

    Washed mint leaves, waiting to be plucked

    Washed mint leaves, waiting to be plucked

  • Place the washed leaves in a cup.

    Pluck those washed leaves and drop them in your favorite cup

    Pluck those washed leaves and drop them in your favorite cup

  • Boil water.
  • Pour hot water in the cup, but not boiling water.
  • Brew for five minutes.
  • You can see the color of water changing to a pale yellow and you should smell the aroma of the mint.

    How to make mint tea from fresh leaves? Tea steeping

    How to make mint tea from fresh leaves?

  • Enjoy, when cool enough to sip. My  mouth feels cool and refreshed. It is minty good.

Like alot of the other teas, mint tea is especially good after you had something sweet or by itself.  The fresh leaves in the cup makes me feel close to the plants that grew from the dirt.  I am sipping on my warm tea as I am writing.

Mint stems on the window sill enjoying the Pacific Northwest sun

Mint stems on the window sill enjoying the Pacific Northwest sun

Did you know that you can also make cold mint tea?  The cold version of mint I have had was Mojito, the spirit tea.   When summmer comes, my mint leaves would be full for warm and cool drinks.