Coffee and Tea at Le Panier

Tea at Le Panier, originally uploaded by andai.

Le Panier, the French café, is one of several French eateries one can find at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Though I don’t often go here, one thing is for sure, Le Panier which is actually a French bakery is extremely popular with the visitors to the Pike Place Market. It seems like whenever I pass by, and especially during the weekend mornings, there is consistently a long line within the shop, with people placing their orders and looking for seating.

Le Panier, despite being a French bakery and café, serves Caffé Umbria, the Italian style coffee from, Caffé Umbria Coffee Roasters. And as you know by now, I do generally like Caffé Umbria’s coffees. I think Le Panier does a decent job with the espresso and I do go there once in a while.

Sometimes however, I will be hungry for something a little more than just an espresso drink. In such cases what I will do is order a tea to go with my croissant or brioche since I generally do not like to eat sweets with coffee. When I order my tea at Le Panier, I will also ask for a small cup of warm milk on the side which I will mix into my tea after the tea has had some time to seep in the cup of hot water. They do have a large selection of teas by Taylors of Harrogate, and my tea of preference is the English Breakfast Tea.

Due to the popularity of the place, Le Panier is not necessarily a place that I would recommend if you are looking for a place where you can sit down to a long and relaxing coffee and conversation. Not because the goodies are back, not at all, the reason is simply that it would be rude to hog the seating while others are looking for a place to sit. Of course if you go there and the place is not that busy… then hang out by all means…

A Tad Bit Uptight at Cafe Pettirosso

Pettirosso, originally uploaded by andai.

Ok. Right off the bat I have to say, of all the cafes, coffee shops and coffeehouses I have been to, just after a couple of visits, this has quickly risen towards the top of my ‘least favorite places to visit’ list.This is sad because it was a place that I actually had high hopes when I first found the place.

Why do I feel this way? The baristas here are simply way too uptight and this reason alone is more than enough to discourage me from coming back. That and the fact that coffee I ordered from there wasn’t that great.

Now the problem here is that normally, if I visit a place and order my espresso drink, and the drink is not that great, I would go back at least a couple more times to see if that is the norm or whether I just happened to be there on a day when the drink I got was out of the ordinary. But in this case, I really do not have any desire to go back there and try another espresso drink… and this is many due to the fact that I do not feel that the baristas there are really welcoming.

And why are these folks so uptight? It just so happens that they seem to get more than nervous when folks some into their cafe and want to take a picture of the place. On two separate occasions I have been ‘politely’ told that I was not to take any pictures while inside the store. The first time when I was getting my latte to go and the second when I happened to be walking by, they had the whole front of the shop open and I thought it would be neat to get a nice picture of the interior.

I didn’t bother to tell them that the picture, had they allowed me to take, would only have appeared on this blog post.

That being said, there are plenty of people who do like the place and maybe if I had simply kept the camera away, they would be a little more welcoming to me. So if you want to check out the place, they are located just a block up from the Caffé Vita flagship store on Pike in Capital Hill. And they actually get their coffee beans from Caffé Vita too.

Fonté Coffee on 1st Avenue

Fonte Espresso Lounge, originally uploaded by andai.

For a while now, I had been hearing rumors about Fonté Coffee Roasters opening their own retail location somewhere in downtown Seattle. Other than the fact that they would be having a retail location, I didn’t know anything about where this location would be, or even when they would actually be open. I guess I could have been a little more proactive and done some investigating but whatever…

Be that as it may, yesterday evening, I just happened to stumble upon the Fonté flagship retail coffee shop downtown, right on 1st avenue. They are located directly across the street from the Seattle Art Museum, next to a pretty famous Seattle landmark which I prefer not to mention. Since I was looking of a place to get dinner and not coffee, I decided that I was going to have to come back another day and check out the place.

But I was pretty excited to have found this location. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first being that Seattle’s downtown coffee scene is certainly becoming nicely represented with great coffee options. Long, long gone are the days when we mainly had Starbucks all over the place. It now seems that more and more new small and/or independent coffee shops are opening up especially in 1st avenue in and around the area close to Pike Place Market. And now when you consider that in the space of less than two blocks south of Fonté, we have Stella Coffee and Cherry Street Coffeehouse. And to the north, also in the space of less than two blocks, we have Seattle Coffee Works and DeLaurenti. These a great options right there. In actuality, there are more coffee shops when you go 4 blocks north or south of Fonté but I think you get my gist.

The second reason I am excited about this is because I would like to see more coffeehouses and coffee shops that serve beans from roasters other than the Seattle default i.e. Caffé Vita and Stumptown coffees. I personally think that there are not enough places here in Seattle that serves coffee from other roasters.

Fonte Espresso Bar, originally uploaded by andai.

Now in the case of Fonté, I know for sure at least two, maybe three places that use their coffee. These places include Joe Bar which is located at the Harvard Exit which is on the north end of Broadway up on Capital Hill. Then there is Chez Dominique which is funny enough about four blocks south of this Fonté coffee shop.

Anyway, later that Saturday night, I was in need of Wi-Fi access and where I was straying the internet connection was abysmal so I decided that I would go to a coffee shop and use the Wi-Fi there instead… and if I was going to a coffee shop, why not check out Fonté then?

I must say that I really liked the interior décor. Theirs is a more modern style and look and feel which I think perfectly suits the location at the new Pan Pacific hotel. And like a lot of the other coffee shops in Seattle, they also offer wine in addition to coffee. The baristas I met there were really friendly and helpful. They seem to certainly care about their customers.

I didn’t ask too many questions about their coffee about I can bet the farm that they use Fonté Coffee Roasters beans. I do enjoy Fonté coffee and my latte was good. I enjoyed it. I did spend a fair amount of time chatting with one of the baristas and so by the time I actually started to drink my latte it was a little cold. Next time I need to drink and chat, and not chat, chat, chat… then finally drink.
The other thing that I thought is great is that Fonté coffee is open till 10 at night, at least on Saturdays. So for those of you who want a more or less quiet place to enjoy a good late night espresso Fonté is certainly for you.

So here now is my dilemma. When I am downtown in the area around 1st avenue at Pike Place Market, should I go to Fonté, should I go to Stella, should I go to DeLaurenti or should I go to Seattle Coffee Works? I think these are good dilemmas to have to face once in a while.

Pike Place Market’s Café Campagne

Cafe Campagne, originally uploaded by andai.

I am not quite sure what to say about Café Campagne other than they are a great French restaurant that is located in Post Alley at the Pike Place Market. They do serve great French food I will be the first to admit.

What they don’t serve however is great espresso drinks, or maybe more specifically, they did not make me a nice latte when I ordered one this morning. They do serve Caffé Vita coffee and if I was to take a wild guess, I would probably say that they use the Caffé Del Sol blend. Unfortunately, I was really not impressed with my drink and I ended up wishing that I had simply ordered a glass of orange juice instead. I thought long and hard about going to Seattle Coffee Works and getting a latte to go, but I didn’t think the good people at Café Campagne would be impressed if I walked in with a latte from elsewhere.

The other thing that I thought was a little odd was that the espresso drinks came in what looked like was either an 8 oz or almost a 16 oz cup and nothing intermediate. This made is it really hard for me to choose what size I should order. The small size was clearly too small and I would be wanting more, yet the large size looked a little too much and I didn’t want to have to drink it all, nor did I want to waste any. I ended up choosing the larger size.

I know enough about coffee orders to know that you really can’t judge a place by the first experience… you have to give the place at least a two or three more tries before you can declare their drinks mediocre. The problem is that there are many great places in and around Pike Place Market that serve good espresso that it will be a while before I go back to try the place again. And like I said, there was nothing much else to write about this place other than the fact that next time I might not even bother to try the coffee and instead I might just stick to large glass of orange juice and leave it at that…

Victrola & Seattle Coffee Works Inspiring Starbucks

15 Ave Coffee & Tea Coffee Cup, originally uploaded by andai.

I have been going to Victrola coffee for a while now and as I have mentioned before, this is one of my favorite coffee shops here in Seattle. Personally I think these folks do a great job with their coffees. I really enjoy passing by every so often to get my espresso fix and once think I would certainly love to see is more coffee shops in Seattle serve Victrola Coffee beans.

I also thought it was rather funny that in addition to Seattle Coffee Works and I don’t know how many other places, that Starbucks sent a squad of observers to go scout out Victrola Coffee just to see what an independent coffee shop looked like and operated. One of the baristas at Victrola challenged 15th Avenue coffee and Tea aka “The Starbucks that’s not a Starbucks” to an espresso smackdown. I would love to see that happen… but I am certainly not holding my breath..

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