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Tacoma Ristretto Quest
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Discussions > Regional > US West > Tacoma Ristretto...  
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ws
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Joined: 31 Dec 2002
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Posted Sat Mar 1, 2003, 8:36pm
Subject: Tacoma Ristretto Quest
 

It's getting tiresome driving to Seattle when I want a nice espresso ristretto. Does anyplace in Tacoma make a decent one? Thanks.

WS
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milnerb1
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Posted Sun Mar 2, 2003, 9:24am
Subject: Re: Tacoma Ristretto Quest
 

ws Said:

It's getting tiresome driving to Seattle when I want a nice espresso ristretto. Does anyplace in Tacoma make a decent one? Thanks.

WS

Posted March 1, 2003 link

Another Tacoma Coffeegeek!  What a small world!.  

I live in NE Tacoma and have been searching out good espresso places in this area for quite some time.  I'll list some good places around Tacoma, but unfortunately, you have to broaden the radar a little bit.

Martin Henry Coffee Roasters is the best place close to Tacoma.  They are actually on River Road toward Puyallup, just past the Toyota dealer before you get into Puyallup.  They roast their own coffee, care about quality, and are a great place to go for espresso.  They even sell green beans, coffee roasters, and carry Astoria prosumer espresso machines.  Highly recommended.

If you're willing to go a little further south, Batdorf & Bronson is outstanding...world class.  However, they are in Olympia and have two stores there.

In Tacoma proper, there is a new Roastery going up called Commencement Bay Coffee.  I don't know if they've opened up yet, but looks like it will be great.  They are located about 1/2 way up to hilltop from the Pink Elephant car wash on the right side.  I don't know the street, but would guess it's at about 21st street South.

Theres another roaster kitty corner (South west corner) to Fleetwood Square by the Tacoma Dome.  Cant remember the name.  But they sell green and they sell the old Fresh Roast Roaster.  I'm not sure about quality there.  I was totally disappointed with cappacino there.  I think it was the Barista.

Fox Hole Coffee Roasters looks good, but I've never had their coffee.  They look like a small version of Tully's.

There's also a Seattle-like coffeehouse on the south side of 6th Avenue over by the Engine House Brewrey that's called "Sealah's Coffeehouse" or some thing like that.  I haven't been there for a long time, but looks like a good place to go read a book.

There's one other place that is on the North End of Downtown near the top of the hill called Kickstand Cafe.  Very 'Arthouse'.  It's located next door to the a really neat old theater that plays Arthouse movies.

There's not always a guarantee of good espresso at these places, but your chances here are better than most other places around town.

If you know of other places, let me know.  I'm always looking for good places to go.
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ws
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Joined: 31 Dec 2002
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Posted Mon Mar 3, 2003, 5:11pm
Subject: Re: Tacoma Ristretto Quest
 

Milnerb1, the places you named:

Martin Henry, on River Road, Puyallup: You're right that they care about their quality. The barista was at least interested in my description of a ristretto.

Batdorf & Bronson, Olympia: haven't been there yet.

Commencement Bay Coffee: They sell roasted beans, but the cafe isn't open yet (2-3 weeks, she said), in the 2500 block of Jefferson.

The one kitty-corner from Freighthouse Square: haven't been there yet. Hmm, maybe later today.

Fox Hollow: There are some drive-throughs with this name, and their espresso is comparable to the Tully/Starbuck sorts, as you suggested.

I think the 6th Ave one you meant is probably Shakabrah, at 6th & Oakes. They recently switched from Dancing Goats blend to Lavazza (Grande?) espresso blend. Crema's still a rarity, but it's good folks, and my favorite local stop.

Kickstand (6th & Fawcett): Again, the atmospherics are fine; I want one of their t-shirts. But the espresso's just strong coffee.

I'm in the odd position of liking my own ristretto (Vivace's Dolce blend) better than anything I can buy in this town. And, mostly thanks to the folks around this website and alt.coffee, I want something better!

WS
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MGLloyd
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Posted Tue Mar 4, 2003, 9:10am
Subject: Re: Tacoma Ristretto Quest
 

ws Said:

Milnerb1, the places you named:

I'm in the odd position of liking my own ristretto (Vivace's Dolce blend) better than anything I can buy in this town. And, mostly thanks to the folks around this website and alt.coffee, I want something better!

WS

Posted March 3, 2003 link

I don't think your position is odd at all.  I live just a bit north of you in Mill Creek, Snohomish County and work in downtown Seattle.  After years of extensive sampling at local stands, my tastebuds are convinced that my home espresso is far better than just about anything I can get commercially.  I roast my own Malabar Gold, grind it to order in my Rocky and pull the shot in my Gaggia.  I rarely buy anything commercially any more because it so often disappoints compared to what I make at home.

Regards,

Michael Lloyd
Mill Creek, Washington  USA

 
Regards,

Michael Lloyd
Mill Creek, Washington  USA
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milnerb1
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Posted Tue Mar 4, 2003, 9:40am
Subject: Re: Tacoma Ristretto Quest
 

ws Said:

Milnerb1, the places you named:

Batdorf & Bronson, Olympia: haven't been there yet.

I think the 6th Ave one you meant is probably Shakabrah, at 6th & Oakes. They recently switched from Dancing Goats blend to Lavazza (Grande?) espresso blend. Crema's still a rarity, but it's good folks, and my favorite local stop.

Kickstand (6th & Fawcett): Again, the atmospherics are fine; I want one of their t-shirts. But the espresso's just strong coffee.

x]

WS

Posted March 3, 2003 link

Seems like you know all the local places.  Regarding Batdorf & Bronson, they make Dancing Goats blend, so it sounds like you have had it at Shakabrah.  The downside is that it doesn't sound like Shakabrah knows how to pull a shot.  I would suggest trying Batdorf & Bronson at one of their locations in Olympia.

Regarding Kickstand, I've had a couple good iced lattes there, but a machiatto that I subsequently ordered was undrinkable.  So, I agree the dont really have quality in mind either.

I also agree, that my own home blends are consistently better than these places, perhaps with the exception of Batdorf or Martin Henry.  I find that the shots pulled on their LM and Astra machines sometimes seem to have a more lingering aftertaste and a little less grassiness.  I'm still learning how to home roast though.

One other place I cannot remember the name of is out in University Place.  The logo reminds me of Fox Hollow and it is out of Gig Harbor.  I had a good cappacino there and was fairly impressed with the quality.  The baristas were college-type girls, but they still seemed to pull good shots (no offense to college-type girls, but sometimes they seem to be more concerned about their boyfriends than making good coffee).
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ws
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Posted Fri Apr 18, 2003, 10:33am
Subject: Re: Tacoma Ristretto Quest
 

Hey, MilnerB1 -- Thanks for putting me on to Commencement Bay Coffee.

After having an "Opening Soon" sign in the window for ages, they're open for business now. It turns out they've been pulling espresso for a couple weeks, but the cafe's selling panini sandwiches and such too, as of this week.

My first espresso there (I didn't ask for a ristretto) is probably the best I've found in Tacoma: two shots was about half of a not-too-large demitasse, lots of medium-dark crema, good thick mouth-feel, a little residual bitterness, but not much. My heart sank a little as the barista asked me "do you want me to leave room for cream?" The question makes me wonder whether I was just blessed with a lucky shot, or whether the quality will be consistent. (At least she didn't say what they do at the drive-throughs: "I don't know how you drink it like that" or "You mean, just espresso with nothing in it?")

They've got a web address at http://www.cbaycoffee.com , but there's nothing on it yet besides the address & phone number. They're open weekdays only, 6 a.m. - 6 p.m., and they roast and sell several varieties & blends of whole bean coffee. I don't know if they'll sell green beans or not.
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milnerb1
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Joined: 25 Sep 2002
Posts: 405
Location: Gig Harbor, WA
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Espresso: Vivaldi II, Isomac Tea,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, Solis Mulino
Roaster: Behmor 1600, BBQ drum,...
Posted Fri Apr 18, 2003, 12:29pm
Subject: Re: Tacoma Ristretto Quest
 

ws Said:

Hey, MilnerB1 -- Thanks for putting me on to Commencement Bay Coffee.

After having an "Opening Soon" sign in the window for ages, they're open for business now. It turns out they've been pulling espresso for a couple weeks, but the cafe's selling panini sandwiches and such too, as of this week.

My first espresso there (I didn't ask for a ristretto) is probably the best I've found in Tacoma: two shots was about half of a not-too-large demitasse, lots of medium-dark crema, good thick mouth-feel, a little residual bitterness, but not much. My heart sank a little as the barista asked me "do you want me to leave room for cream?" The question makes me wonder whether I was just blessed with a lucky shot, or whether the quality will be consistent. (At least she didn't say what they do at the drive-throughs: "I don't know how you drink it like that" or "You mean, just espresso with nothing in it?")

They've got a web address at http://www.cbaycoffee.com , but there's nothing on it yet besides the address & phone number. They're open weekdays only, 6 a.m. - 6 p.m., and they roast and sell several varieties & blends of whole bean coffee. I don't know if they'll sell green beans or not.

Posted April 18, 2003 link

Funny you mentioned this.  I just spent a couple hours there this morning and was fixin' to post my initial impressions this afternoon...but you beat me to the punch!

I've been driving by the place for weeks, waiting for them to open.

I've had two double espressos and an double short decalf iced latte there now and can agree that it's definitely the best espresso in Tacoma, and a nice atmosphere as well.  

A couple observations:

  •  Both times I ordered espresso, I got the same question that you did, "Do you want me to leave room for cream?".  Actually, I'm just starting to enjoy drinking straight espresso so I usually put 1/2 tsp raw sugar and a tsp of half-n-half in my doubles.  So, I didn't mind her asking...assuming that she wasn't asking just so that she could determine how long to pull the shots for!

  • Both doubles were about 2 ounces.

  • The coffee was quite fresh, however, she did not grind just for my pulls.  This makes me think she may have ground to fill the hopper beforehand.  This is definitely a no-no considering their business volume is not very brisk yet.

  •  The decalf was also very good, and was ground specifically for my drink.

  •  The shot pull time seemed a little fast...like roughly 15-18 seconds from what I could tell.  This is not good, but the shots were not bitter or watery.

Overall, I'd rate this place just a knoch below Martin Henry.  Though their espresso was very good, I was a little concerned that roasting dates were not included on the pre-roasted coffee, coffee was not freshly ground for each shot, and pull time seemed a little short.  On the plus side, they have a very nice, mild espresso blend that goes great with or without milk, fresh espresso at the counter, and a great atmosphere/food.  

I'll be frequenting this place when I'm in downtown Tacoma.  I'll also send a link to this discussion to the store's e-mail address.  They may appreciate the feedback.
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proton
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proton
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Posted Fri Apr 18, 2003, 12:55pm
Subject: Re: Tacoma Ristretto Quest
 

what about new jersey? :-D
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ws
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Joined: 31 Dec 2002
Posts: 68
Location: Tacoma WA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Baby Twin
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Fri Apr 18, 2003, 2:13pm
Subject: Re: Tacoma Ristretto Quest
 

milnerb1 said:

(snip) I'll also send a link to this discussion to the store's e-mail address.  They may appreciate the feedback.


There goes both our anonymity!
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milnerb1
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Joined: 25 Sep 2002
Posts: 405
Location: Gig Harbor, WA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Vivaldi II, Isomac Tea,...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, Solis Mulino
Roaster: Behmor 1600, BBQ drum,...
Posted Fri Apr 18, 2003, 3:52pm
Subject: Re: Tacoma Ristretto Quest
 

ws Said:

There goes both our anonymity!

Posted April 18, 2003 link

You're right, we are probably the only people that have ordered straight espresso from their store.

I sent them a long e-mail and will post here if I get a response.
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