Seattle is seen as a coffee mecca by coffee connoisseurs, and it’s not hard to see why. It is a city not only of coffee connoisseurs but premium coffee roasters too. Trust us, Seattle natives have had enough excellent cups of coffee to know when a cup is up to the mark!
Still, the quest for the perfect cup of coffee is an ongoing one, and one could spend the entire day traipsing around Seattle visiting their fine roasteries in search of a cup that was better than the last. Coffee, of course, is an excellent fuel for such an excursion!
What makes this search even more of a challenge is the wide range of blends, varieties, and roasts in the greater Seattle area. With such a rich history of coffee and so many unique roasteries out there, you could spend your whole life scouring Seattle for the ideal cup of coffee.
But hopefully this article will give you a good place to start, and make your coffee pilgrimage a bit easier, whether you’re a Seattle native or a tourist wanting to sample the best of what Seattle has to offer.
Below, you’ll find a list of where to find the best beans in Seattle, what coffee varieties are available, what their specialties are, and how these incredible roasteries got started!
From decaf to espressos, these roasteries source beans from all the major coffee regions and pay growers fairly for their labor. Coffee that is not only delicious but ethical too? What more could you ask for!
7 Best Coffee Beans to Buy in Seattle
Onda Origins is a coffee roasting and sourcing company that has created a new way of doing business. In order to make coffee more sustainable, they bring coffee growers and drinkers together. While growers are the people who are responsible for not only the sustainability of the coffee but the quality of it, often the price they are paid for their labor does not reflect that.
Onda Origins created a new model to correct this. They artfully roast each coffee to bring out its qualities, a share of your purchase goes to the grower, doubling their income, and they are transparent about grower earnings and how their earning impacts them.
They have a range of single-origin coffees grown by farmers in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, as well as their custom blends. They also sell single-serve coffees, and a filter bag packed with freshly ground coffee that is nitro-sealed to stay fresh. You don’t need any fancy equipment to enjoy this coffee, just add water.
To try out all their coffee varieties and discover the stories of the people behind them, we recommend their coffee bean subscription. Their cardamom latte is a crowd favorite, and their house-made cardamom syrup is easy to make at home.
ELM Coffee Roasters is a cafe and roastery located in Pioneer Square, Seattle, and was founded by Brendan Mullally in 2013. Brendan wanted to establish a cafe and roastery that not only served great coffee, but provided a welcoming, friendly environment in which to enjoy it.
Before starting ELM, Brendan already had plenty of experience which put him in great stead to start his own roastery. He worked in the coffee industry for seven years in New York City, and this time he was an integral part of opening and establishing the Joe Pro Shop.
Brendan returned to Seattle in 2013 to pursue his coffee dreams on his own terms. He started ELM by partnering with some of the very best coffee producers and importers to serve the people of Seattle excellent coffee.
ELM isn’t concerned with having a wide array of coffee varieties, instead they focus on roasting precisely. They do have a few variants available though, from some of the most notable coffee growing regions, such as their 9 Swans seasonal coffee, Ethiopia Benti Nenka, Guatemala Andres Pablo, Kenya Karatina, and a Decaf Colombia.
Despite having a limited variety of beans, they specialize in all of them. Their 9 Swans and Guatemala Andres varieties really stand out, and are their most popular varieties.
If you visit ELM, you’ll see the team roasting beans while you drink your coffee. There’s nothing better than seeing fine food and drink being made before your very eyes! As well as delicious coffee, they also have mouth watering pastries and chai available too. If that wasn’t enough, their incredibly friendly baristas round off a delightful experience!
Kuma Coffee was started in 2008 by Peter Mark, who started by roasting coffee beans inside his garage in Seattle. His aim was to get the best beans, roast them precisely, and then share those excellently tossed beans with customers.
The coffee was packaged in simple bags, but the beans spoke for themselves. His customer base soon grew so large that Peter was able to move his operation out of the garage and into his own space.
Where does the name Kuma come from? Kuma is a Japanese word for bear, and Peter spent some time in Japan before returning to the United States. He adopted a big shaggy dog and named it Kuma, due to its bear-like appearance. Peter named the coffee company after his beloved dog, and a bear logo can be seen on every pack of Kuma Coffee.
While Kuma Coffee travels around the world to bring the best beans directly from the source, they are still a small team in Seattle. They pay their farmers an even better price than Fair Trade, and Kuma have been rewarded by commodity markets for their excellent work.
Their beans are roasted in a specialized, eco-friendly roaster, the Loring Kestrel 35k. This state of the art roaster lets them control almost all aspects of the roasting process, resulting in clean, sweet coffees.
Kuma Coffee is also available in other cafes, but despite their huge success and acclaim they have stayed true to their roots, and are devoted to providing the best coffee to their customers.
Kuma has around a dozen coffee variants to choose from, and source most of their beans from Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Some of these sources have variants dedicated to them, such as the Guatemala Hunapu, Ethiopia Guji, and the Ethiopia Shakiso Natural. They have also added new variants such as Ethiopia Bank Gotiti, Kenya Gachatha, and Costa Rica Finsa Rosa Linda.
They also have decaf varieties such as Peru San Ignacio Decaf and a Momma Bear Blend 50/50 Decaf, which is a blend of Peru San Ignacio Decaf and a regular Colombia La Florida. Peter came up with the 50/50 decaf blend when he and his wife were expecting their first baby – hence the name Momma Bear! He made a pack of custom 50/50 blend for his wife to drink to help her reduce her caffeine intake. It tasted so delicious that Peter shared it with Kuma Coffee customers.
The Kenya Gachatha variety is hugely popular, and is one of Kuma’s Flagship offerings. This coffee is directly sourced from growers without any importer being involved. Kenya Gachatha coffee is rich and juicy, with a bold, berry aroma. The coffee is rich in sweetness, reminiscent of chocolate or cherry.
The cup rounds out with a sugary finish and a red current acidity. Another Kuma favorite is the never disappointing Guatemala Hunapu, another one of their flagship varieties.
Sean Lee started a small cafe and roastery in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle, back in 2006. Sean named the cafe ‘Seven’ in honor of his grandmother, who was referred to as ‘Nana’ by her grandchildren, and Nana means ‘seven’ in Japanese.
In 2009, the cafe became known as Makeda Coffee, and the Seven Coffee Roasters became a wholesale business supplying cafes, restaurants, markets, and bakers in the Puget Sound region. They were affectionately known as a ‘small roaster for small businesses.’
Few more locations sprouted up as the years went by, and now you can see many ‘Seven’ cafes all around the Puget Sound. However, the company still roasts daily at the White Center, with a focus on small businesses. They source their coffee from all over the world, and it is hand-roasted in small batches so their customers have the freshest coffee possible.
A collection of Seven Coffee Roasters beans starts with a package of 3 different coffee beans/blends that you can combine at a discount price, saving you from individual shipping. You can choose from regional beans such as Ethiopian, Guatemalan, Brazilian, Mexican, and Sumatran.
They also have delicious collections such as Espresso Huli, Roasters Choice, Bitch Blend, and a few Decaf options. Often Limited Edition blends are available too, and these are usually seasonal.
Bitch Blend is their most celebrated and best selling premium coffee. It is a blend of Small Co-Op Sumatra Mandheling Old School, Ethiopia Keffa Forest, and a Co-Op of 50% of women-owned small farms. This blend is made in collaboration with Biscuit Bitch restaurants, which has 3 locations in Downtown Seattle.
Barry Bailey is behind Broadcast Coffee Roasters, named after Barry’s father Bill’s love for radio broadcasting. He was a radio DJ and a local celebrity in Barry’s hometown of Boise. After college, Barry got into the family business of broadcasting before carving his own path in Seattle.
There he fell in love with the coffee scene, and founded Broadcast Coffee Roasters in 2008. They now have 3 independent cafes in Seattle, as well as a cafe in Barry’s hometown of Boise.
Broadcast Coffee Roasters boast over 15 varieties of coffee that include single origins, blends, and decaf. On their website you can find single-origin coffee from single farms, with details of the farm and farmer listed so you know exactly where you’re getting your coffee from.
The single origins include coffee from Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Ethiopia. They also offer ‘Limited Edition’ seasonal coffee. They have also recently created the Black Lives Matter Blend. When you purchase this blend, $3 is donated to local organizations supporting the African American community, and $1 is donated to the Employee Wellness Fund.
The Crossfade Blend and Breaker One 9 are among their most popular varieties. The Crossfade blend is prevalent in Broadcast’s cafes and is great neat or with milk. It is a combination of Ethiopian and Colombian beans, resulting in a peachy, floral coffee with a chocolatey almond profile. The Breaker One 9, meanwhile hails from Brazil and has distinct flavors of peanut butter, orange chocolate, and cherries.
Paul Odom founded his roastery in 1992, with the name Fonte Coffee Roaster. Fonte is an Italian word meaning ‘source,’ and considering the quality of the coffee beans Fonte supplies, it is very aptly named.
Paul’s journey began when he met Steve Smith, who had been a seasoned roaster at Starbucks and was trained under the three main owners of the famous coffee chain. In fact, Steve was the only roaster to ever earn the title of a ‘Master Roaster.’ Steve left Starbucks when he met Paul, intrigued by Paul’s focus on quality. Paul was swayed by Steve’s ideas regarding roasting, and their collaboration began.
Their artisan approach to roasting led to creating excellent coffee blends along with a hand roast-to-order wholesale process. Fonte Coffee Roasters soon became a brand to watch among the top wholesale coffee merchants.
Fonte Coffee Roasters are experts in creating blends and have a decent selection of blends to choose from. Fonte AA, First Avenue, Cerrado, Italian, Portofino and Sienna are a few of their most popular selections. You can find their AA, Portofino and Decaf AA in the Bean Box coffee subscription, one of the most popular coffee subscription boxes in the US.
They also have single origins like the Sumatra and Brazil. For those who prefer decaf, Fonte has 3 decaf blends. These are Fonte AA Decaf, Awareness Decaf, and Espresso Decaf. But while there is a limited decaf selection, it’s still roasted to perfection!
You can order coffee from their site as whole beans, or even specifically grounded coffee for a French Press, Drip, Home Espresso, Commercial Espresso, Melitta or Turkish Pot.
Fonte’s specialist blends are F2 and Bin 16. F2 is a full-bodied blend that tastes like dry, distilled chocolates and dark cherries in the middle of your palate. It finishes with a light, spicy taste.
Bin 16 is their house favorite and blends beans from East Africa and Central America. It starts with a bright acidity and is followed by delicate citrus and rich, complex flavors of dark cocoa powder and ripe cherry. You can also find this selection in their coffee subscription palate.
Victrola Coffee Roasters was founded in the 2000s in the small 15th Avenue neighborhood. The community lacked a good place to hang out, and Victrola was your everyday coffee shop. Victrola was a hit, growing in popularity and soon expanded, taking over the storefront next to it.
In 2003, Victrola cafe began roasting their own beans. They did this in the tiny back room of the cafe, churning out the perfect blends for espresso. The quality of their coffee and hard work did not go unnoticed, and in 2007 they expanded with their showcase cafe at the base of Capitol Hill. This cafe not only had a roastery, but a training facility, and a cupping room. When you visit the cafe, not only do you get a marvellous cup of coffee, but you can learn more about what you’re drinking by visually experiencing the process these beans go through to deliver an exceptional cup of coffee.
Further expansion happened in 2009, with another cafe opening on Beacon Hill. This cafe had a similar atmosphere to their other cafes, and all Victrola venues have the same philosophy. Victrola has always been passionate about their work and the coffee they produce. While their phenomenal growth is impressive, they have only expanded to 4 locations over their history, always mindful of not compromising the precision of their roasting culture.
Espresso brands are their specialty, with their most popular blends being Empire, Triborough Organic Espresso, Burundi Kayanza Kirema, Costa Rica William Murillo, Streamline Espresso and one Deco Decaf.
Empire is a special blend of beans from Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras that is sure to appeal to coffee connoisseurs and casual coffee fans alike. Empire is a full-bodied espresso with rich, complex notes of caramel, orange peel, baking spices and even fresh cedar, with a mild, balanced acidity. It’s balanced and bold, but with a sweet taste too.
With coffee being such a huge deal in Seattle, it’s difficult to narrow down the best coffee roasters in the city. You can find a cafe or roaster in practically every neighborhood.
Still, that means the bar is even higher for a fantastic cup of coffee! If you’re a visitor to the city, these roasteries are definitely worth a visit, and if you’re a Seattle native, hopefully you have discovered some local gems near you.