5 Killer Cafés in Seattle That Don’t Rhyme With “Arbucks”

Let’s face it – there’s a comfort with knowing there’s a convenient caffeine station in every strip mall and grocery store that takes your gold card from an app on your phone. And there’s certainly a small glimmer of pride hearing every tourist downtown ask, “How do I get to the original Starbucks from here?”

But in a region that is known equally for its creativity as it is for its coffee, we’re gifted with an abundance of individuals that have poured their lives into building cafés that go above and beyond feeding our love for espresso! Whether you’re looking for cozy vibes or a killer Cortado, Seattle has a myriad of options that are guaranteed to make you want to come back.

So without further ado, here are five to get you started on your path to caffeinated enlightenment.

Armistice Coffee Roaster

Excellent coffee. Comfortable ambience. Great people. Armistice has found a way to balance all of the essentials of a winning coffee shop in their Eastlake and Roosevelt locations. And with founder Rebecca Smith’s experience in the industry, those elements are met with high-quality roasts that are made fresh on-site at each of their shops. When indoor seating opens up again, you may find yourself spending hours on end with these guys!

Armistice Coffee Roaster sign in Seattle
Armistice Coffee Roaster employee in Seattle

Broadcast Coffee Roasters

With a wide and strong variety of blends and single origin roasts, Broadcast has you covered! Barry Faught and his crew have done an amazing job of delivering an excellent product and experience while placing a heavy emphasis on community outreach and advocacy. Whether you’re at their Central District, Roosevelt, or Boise, ID locations, you’re bound to be met with friendly employees and delicious food and beverages!

bag of coffee from Broadcast Coffee Roasters in Seattle
cup of coffee from Broadcast Coffee Roasters in Seattle

Mr. West Café Bar

Don’t let the name fool you, Mr. West is a café and then some! While many find themselves at either their downtown or University Village locations for coffee, founder Henri Schock ensures you’re met with every food and beverage option you could need, along with a comfortable atmosphere both indoors and outdoors for a great experience. Head in for a latte and avocado toast, stay for a glass of prosecco and a kale salad!

Mr. West Café Bar in Seattle
Mr. West Café Bar merchandise in Seattle

Santo Coffee Co.

Santo is an amazing example of intentionality in every detail. From their coffee menu, what they choose to include and exclude, to the design of their café on 65th Street, you are left with little doubt in their love for the craft. Founded by Fredy and Alexis Montero and Mikhail and Jessica Ghyvoronsky, this tag-team creates an experience that feels more like a family gathering than a coffee transaction.

Santo Coffee Co in Seattle
Pouring coffee at Santo Coffee Co in Seattle

Zoka Coffee

A long-standing staple in the Seattle region, Zoka has built a strong reputation for consistency and quality. While it’s so easy to lose inspiration the longer you’re in business, founder Jeff Babcock seems to only grow in inspiration with every new blend or single origin coffee they offer! You can enjoy their neighborhood vibes and strong coffee selections in Kirkland, Greenlake, and University District!

Zoka Coffee in Seattle
Zoka Coffee in Seattle

There are countless others that could make any “Top 5” list out there. And I would argue that most of them would stand out as the #1 café in any other region! So especially during this crazy season we’re in, now is the time to show your local coffee businesses some extra love and support while enjoying all of the creativity and passion they give to their craft!

Garrett Hanson

Garrett Hanson is a Seattle-based photographer that loves capturing every aspect of life – from weddings, to families, to landscapes and adventures in the Pacific Northwest and everything in between. When he’s not behind the camera, you can find Garrett at a local coffee shop, planning his next trip, and spending time with his community any chance he gets!


  1. […] For even more suggestions, check out our story: 5 Killer Cafés in Seattle That Don’t Rhyme With “Arbucks”. […]

  2. […] is best known for its coffee scene, but the cocktail scene has been growing for quite some time and might be nearing its peak. There […]

  3. Movies And Food Pairings | Explore Washington State on December 28, 2022 at 4:26 am

    […] There are several nods to Washington in this series, as the author attended University of Washington and lives here in Bainbridge Island. Locations such as Snohomish, Langley City, and Downtown Seattle. […]

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.