Even if you don’t care for coffee, you’ve got to love a good coffee shop. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee, your pick of cookies and sweet breads, and a seat next to the window so you can watch the rain. Those are the makings of a favorite cafe.
Here are some recommended coffee shops in Snohomish and Island counties — all of them independent, sit-down cafes.
Gary Smith was ahead of the coffee curve when he opened an espresso cart at the Mukilteo ferry dock in 1983. Thirty-five years later, he’s a local coffee legend and owner of an artisan coffee roaster and cafe on Whidbey Island. It’s well worth the ferry ride over.
Ever since he first tasted espresso in 1982, Smith’s had a passion for great coffee. He developed a slow-roasting method about 30 years ago — that is still followed today — all in the name of the perfect cup of coffee. All of the beans are purchased directly from farmers.
Even if you don’t like coffee, we recommend you go just to see the roastery and cafe in Langley. With two industrial roasters, an expansive dining area and eye-catching artwork, there’s a lot to appreciate. You might even catch a glimpse of Beans the Pig.
Mukilteo Coffee Roasters is at 5331 Crawford Road, Langley. Call 360-321-5262. The cafe is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. The roastery is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Closed Saturday and Sunday. More at www.mukilteocoffee.com.
This cafe and bakery in downtown Edmonds is a local favorite. It roasts its proprietary blend coffee and bakes a variety of pastries daily.
If you’re stuck staring at the menu, order a latte to go with that pastry you’re thinking about. Red Twig has perfected the espresso-to-milk ratio in its lattes. Don’t believe us? “Their caffeinated drinks are always superb,” one colleague said. “The drip coffee also is great,” said another.
Want more than coffee? Stay for breakfast. The farm-fresh menu changes with the seasons. It has more than the tried-and-true breakfast offerings of eggs, toast and pancakes.
Visiting Red Twig is like dropping in on a friend who is ready and willing to make you brunch.
Red Twig Cafe and Bakery is at 117 Fifth Ave. S., Edmonds. The cafe and bakery is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Call 425-771-1200. More at www.redtwig.com.
Open for a year and a half, Narrative Coffee has helped put Everett on the coffee map. The multi-roaster coffee shop — just steps from the Snohomish County Courthouse — is designed with mid-century modern flair and reminiscent of San Francisco.
Narrative is housed in a storefront built in 1921 with four skylights, exposed beams and rafters, and original brick walls. Co-owner Maxwell Mooney wanted to create a “neighborhood living room.” It’s very hip and comfortable.
Mooney is an award-winning barista credited for creating the coffee mecca in downtown Everett. His philosophy? A cup of coffee should reflect the bean’s true nature as a seed of a tropical fruit. Order a street waffle to go with that quality cuppa fruity coffee. You can thank us later.
Narrative Coffee, 2927 Wetmore Ave., Everett, is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call 425-322-4648. More at www.narrative.coffee.
Red Cup Cafe
This Mukilteo cafe has a lot of character: whimsical sculptures, a panoramic view of Possession Sound, the Table of “Nalage” in the corner by the door.
The cafe opened in 1989 as Mukilteo Coffee, changed to Whidbey Coffee in 1999, and then became the Red Cup Cafe in 2009.
Wooden statues carved by Whidbey Island artist Pat McVay populate the cafe up the hill from the Mukilteo ferry dock. Look for a Native American chief; a woman waiting for a bus; a portrait of the late Willard Schroeder, Mukilteo’s unofficial mayor; and a man with a cup of coffee bursting from the ceiling.
Sit at The Table of “Nalage” if you plan to do a lot more talking than listening. It’s the Table of “Nalage” and not “Knowledge” for a reason.
Owner Marianne Brown is Red Cup’s best character. If your cup of coffee doesn’t wake you up, her bubbly personality will.
Red Cup Cafe is at 619 Fourth St., Mukilteo. It’s open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Call 425-348-4825 or go to www.facebook.com/RedCupCafe.
In 1989, Dan Ollis purchased an espresso cart and spent the summer serving specialty coffee at local fairs. This entrepreneurial move led him to build the framework that today is Whidbey Coffee Co. — good coffee and customer service.
Twenty-nine years later, Ollis owns a coffee empire. You can order a cup of Whidbey Coffee at 12 locations around the Puget Sound region, including in Mukilteo and on Whidbey Island.
The Oak Harbor cafe with a drive-thru was voted Best of Whidbey 2018. It has your choice of indoor and outdoor tables, many of which include built-in power outlets, leather lounge chairs next to a stone fireplace and a separate conference room that can be reserved up to two weeks in advance.
In a hurry? The drive-thru’s carhops take your order during rush hours so that your cup of joe is ready when you reach the window.
The company’s bakery makes pastries fresh daily to go with your steaming cup. Or you can try one of their parfaits, breakfast burritos, wraps, soups or sandwiches. If you’d like to mix it up, we recommend ordering one of the cafe’s signature drinks, like the “famous frozen moka.”
Whidbey Coffee, 31275 Highway 20, is open 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call 360-279-8165. More at www.whidbeycoffee.com.
If you’re looking for a cool cafe for an afternoon hangout, then go to The Loft.
The Everett coffee shop, which opened in 2016, has been described as “a cool spot” more times than we can count.
Owners Tim and Devyn Gunn have designed The Loft to be a cozy, community-friendly space where locals can book a meeting room or relax in an armchair by a fireplace. “The space is comfortable and has interesting decor,” a colleague said. “It’s a bright, pleasant place to meet a friend and sit for awhile.”
We recommend you try “Joe’s shooter,” a vanilla-flavored drink topped with cold breve and espresso, or the Cuban cafecito, in which brown sugar is whipped in with an espresso shot.
The 1920 building it’s housed in originally was home to Joe’s Tavern, whose owner, Joe King, is namesake of the aforementioned “Joe’s shooter” drink. He was a local character who sponsored Everett baseball teams and ran the popular bar “where all the boys meet.”
The Loft is a true family affair: In addition to husband and wife, two of the Gunns’ three daughters work at the cafe. Devyn’s mother, another owner, also works there.
The Loft Coffee Bar, 1309 Hewitt Ave., Everett, is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call 425-212-9271 or go to www.facebook.com/TheLoft.CoffeeBar.Everett.
The Living Room
The volunteer-run coffee house in Marysville is a popular gathering place. You’re welcome to hang out, join a number of house events or host your own.
For example, the Jazz Jam Project is at 6:30 p.m. on the last Friday of the month and Open Mic Night is at 6 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month.
As far as coffee and baked goods go, the Living Room gets rave reviews for its vanilla bean scones and white chocolate raspberry mochas. Have your coffee in one of several small rooms, for added privacy, or sit in the large community living room for which it’s named.
All of the baristas are volunteers, ranging in age from 12 to 72 years old. They serve coffee for free to gain job skills and give back to their community.
The Living Room Coffee House is at 1636 Fourth St., Marysville. The cafe is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call 360-658-8646. More at www.livingroomevent.com.
Timber Monster Brewing Co.
In a place where craft coffee and beer are equally popular, it’s surprising there aren’t more businesses that offer both.
Timber Monster Brewing Co., which opened this year on Main Street in Sultan, not only does both, it does both well.
Mike and Brandi Varnell converted the former Seafirst Bank building into a coffee bar and drive-thru by day and a craft-beer brewery and restaurant by night.
Timber Monster’s business model might be new, but it’s not complicated. They offer coffee and breakfast bites at the drive-thru in the wee-morning hours, followed by the coffee shop, which is your typical laptop-and-cuppa-joe spot. Just before noon is when the beer starts flowing, and they transition the menu to lunch and dinner fare, like wood-fired pizzas, burgers and wraps until close.
The Varnells went with an “old Northwest cabin” design. They turned the old bank drive-thru and vault into a walk-in cooler. Instead of Benjamins, it now holds brewskis.
Timber Monster Brewing Co., 410 Main St., Sultan, is open 4:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Call 360-243-3159 or go to www.facebook.com/TimberMonsterBrewingCompany.
Bravata in the Mill Creek Town Center is so good that baristas go there for coffee. Even the hoity toity ones.
Except Bravata isn’t a coffee shop. Bravata is one of, if not the first, full-service beauty salon in Washington with a high-end cafe and cocktail bar.
The cafe/bar features lots of natural light, white barstools and walls, and reclaimed Douglas fir. It’s one of three B chapters owner Paloma St. Germain envisioned: First was “beauty” (hair and makeup salon) in 2014, second was “bar” (coffee and booze) in 2017, and the third, “boutique” (local goods), will soon follow.
But about that bar. Everything on the menu — which includes coffee, tea, soda, beer, wine and hard cider — is organic, local, sustainable and often house-made. We recommend one of Bravata’s coffee cocktails, like the espresso hot toddy or the espresso old fashioned, made by the business’ barista-bartender.
If you don’t want coffee or booze, go for the “famous lemon ginger soda.” All the fruit for the bar’s house-made sodas are juiced slowly to preserve nutrients and flavor.
Bravata, 15117 Main St., Suite B104, Mill Creek, is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Call 425-357-6161. More at www.iambravata.com.
Make like Alice and step through the looking glass into this Snohomish coffee house.
The Looking Glass, which opened in 2017, is a family-owned cafe and gift shop in the city’s historic district with a “living room” feel.
Owners Tex and Laura Page wanted to open their own coffee shop so they could serve Dillanos coffee, Smith Brothers milk and mini doughnuts. The doughnuts are made hot and fresh right in front of you.
The cafe offers free Wi-Fi, a selection of board games to play during your visit, a children’s area with toys and puzzles, large gathering tables in the back and plenty of comfy couches and armchairs. “It’s a beautiful, open space, with just enough coziness to be dangerous,” a former barista told us.
At the front is the gift shop, which offers a selection of gifts and souvenirs, many of which are made locally.
We recommend you grab a coffee — their dark roast receives high praise — and then browse the Looking Glass’ collection of games, toys, jewelry and books, plus Looking Glass merchandise.
Looking Glass Coffee is at 801 First St., Suite 201, Snohomish. The cafe and gift shop is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call 360-863-3557 or go to www.lookingglasscoffee.com.
Honorable mentions: Useless Bay Coffee Co., 121 Second St., Langley; Vienna Coffee Co., 16108 Ash Way, No. 101, Lynnwood; Paesano’s Coffee & Cafe, 14655 Fryelands Blvd., No. 109, Monroe; and Cafe Makario, 2625 Colby Ave., Suite 2C, Everett.
Washington North Coast Magazine
This article is featured in the winter issue of Washington North Coast Magazine, a supplement of The Daily Herald. Explore Snohomish and Island counties with each quarterly magazine. Each issue is $3.99. Subscribe to receive all four editions for $14 per year. Call 425-339-3200 or go to www.washingtonnorthcoast.com for more information