is a small Seattle chain of cafes with enormous heart, and a nominee for a Readers' Choice Award for Best Coffee House.
If you've ever wanted to know coffee the way oenologists know wine, Victrola Coffee's weekly Wednesday "public cuppings" should be your first destination. There, you'll get to "cup" (fancy coffee terminology for "taste") a number of different roasts and beans to orient your tastebuds -- they're confident that once you're an expert, you'll choose Victrola.
The Victrola Coffee cafes are comfortable and cultural, just as coffee houses should be. You can pop in to read the newspaper or a book, or to check out the local art on the walls, which changes regularly, or even see a favorite band perform (upcoming events are listed here
One thing Victrola provides is truly knowledgeable coffee connoisseurs behind the counter. The have a morningly staff cupping before opening to get their buzz going and, most importantly, to taste the previous day's roast. Varietals like the widely-loved Streamline Espresso, Fair Trade Deco Decaf, Guatemala Santa Rosa and El Salvador Finca Alaska are roasted in-house, ensuring that everything is prepared with the utmost care.
If you'd like to know how far coffee geekery can go, visit their website
for descriptive gems like: "Its pillowy viscosity clings to the sides of the warm demitasse. In a swirl around the cup, it offers fleeting notes of fresh pine that plump into a full, soft caramel aroma. Streamline's fruit---juicy blueberry and blackberry--carries it accross the palate in no rush: toasted hazelnuts, bittersweet chocolate, and brown sugar each take their time on the tongue before melting into a butter frosting mouthfeel. The four coffees working together here are a linear, tight knit bunch. They have dinner together and laugh until their bellies hurt, kind of like us."
Obsessive? Maybe. But that's just the kind of people we want making our coffee. (And maybe they just wrote it really caffeinated.)
for the coffee house that you believe is the best of breed. The voting period runs through April 30 and winners will be announced on May 1.