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Updated: Mar 14, 2023

Seattle Cafe Guide To Best Coffee Shops Reviews By Travel Bloggers In The Great Wide Thirsty Thursdays

Seattle Coffee Shops Guide

The city of Seattle is synonymous with coffee shops, with Starbucks starting there and Frasier having a coffee shop scene in practically every episode. When visiting, try as much coffee as you can!

Here are our reviews of the coffee shops that we’ve visited in Seattle, which we will add to with every trip, so save this article for future reference!


Zeitgeist Coffee

On our 3rd day in Seattle, during our month-long Amtrak USA Rail Pass adventure, we didn’t have much time to hang out, as we had to catch the Coast Starlight to head back home to Los Angeles. We were able to check our bag at the King Street/Union Station and then walked 1 block over to Zeitgeist Coffee in the Pioneer Square neighborhood to grab some breakfast and lunch to take with us on the train.

Zeitgeist Coffee opened in 1997 and has been a guiding force in the art scene in Pioneer Square. The longest running art walk in the country is in Pioneer Square and Zeitgeist Coffee displays local artists in the shop. It also has a Little Free Library for customers to take a book or leave a book. It has a true sense of community with lines running deep the entire time we were there.

The staff was super friendly and when we got back in line to order to-go sandwiches for lunch, the staff was nice enough to put the dressing in a container on the side, to not wilt the tossed greens that came with the sandwich. We both had coffee, which was tasty.

But the real star of the day was the lox bagel special; it was the best lox bagel we’ve ever had! It was the most deliciously smoked salmon with onions and capers and cream cheese on an everything bagel. It made us want to stay an extra day just to get the bagels again, but we were thrilled to have that be our last proper meal of our month-long trip.

Zeitgeist Coffee Quick Reference Guide




Coffee, Espresso, Lots of Hot Tea Options, Breakfast Sandwiches, Lunch Sandwiches, Lox Bagels (on special)


7am - 1pm Monday - Saturday

8am - 1pm Sunday

Our Verdict

This is our favorite coffee shop in Seattle. Their bagels are definitely worth stopping in for!

Elm Street Roasters

We rolled into Seattle in the late morning after being on the Empire Builder train for two days coming from Chicago and were ready to shower, then hit the town. Unfortunately, our hostel room wouldn’t be ready for a couple of hours, so we freshened up as best we could and took off to walk down to the waterfront.

Being on a train for a couple of days, sleeping in coach seats, was a little tiring, so we were ready for some Seattle coffee. As we walked from Chinatown through Pioneer Square towards the waterfront, we came upon Elm Coffee Roasters, a charming little coffee shop that opened in 2013. They roast their own beans three times a week with giant windows to watch all of that hot roasting action.

I tried my first Seattle coffee in a hefty brown mug and was pleasantly delighted. It was everything I hoped that fresh coffee would be. Phoebe doesn’t drink coffee anymore, so she opted to get a chai latte. It was in an enormous cup, which she loves, and found it to be very tasty.

The coffee shop was bright, with lots of natural light and wood grains. The staff was friendly and the environment quiet. It would be a great place to sit and work while having some delicious coffee, and they offer pastries from Seawolf Bakery too, another local business. There isn’t a ton of seating though, so please be respectful with how much time you take up a table if there are other patrons who might want to sit down.

Elm Coffee Roasters Quick Reference Guide




Coffee, Espresso, Chai Lattes, Limited Hot Teas, Pastries from Seawolf Bakery


Open 8am - 3pm

Closed on Sundays and Tuesdays

Our Verdict

Bright with natural light and they roast their own coffee beans in the cafe, making for fantastic coffee. Limited seating, but it would be a good place to get a little work done.

Retro Coffee

On day 2 of our adventures in Seattle during our month-long Amtrak train trip, we opted to explore downtown on our way from our hostel in Chinatown to the Seattle Center Monorail and Space Needle. Downtown Seattle has some amazing architecture, ranging from a 110+ year-old church to some cutting edge skyscrapers.

It’d been 8 years since Phoebe had drank any coffee (minus a sip of mine here and there - she’s usually a tea drinker), but she was determined to have some coffee since we were in Seattle. As we walked up and down the hills in downtown (wear comfy shoes!), we searched the area and found Retro Coffee in the Madison Centre building at 5th and Madison. We approached via the 5th Avenue entrance for the Madison Centre, but a guard met us at the door, and informed us the entrance to Retro Coffee was on Madison Street, despite the address being on 5th.

It’s a small shop with some pastries from Macrina Bakery and Cafe, although they also have a few salad options for lunch. The environment is very sterile and the seats aren’t terribly comfortable in the shop itself, which led us to believe their main clientele are the office workers at the Madison Centre. There is an entrance right across from the cafe to the Madison Centre lobby, which had some plush, comfy chairs and a fireplace, but it was closed off from the coffee shop, presumably due to covid restrictions.

It would appear, via the shop’s social media, that the Madison Centre lobby is now open to their customers, so it’d definitely be worth heading back during the winter months to enjoy some coffee in front of their large fireplace. Without the option of that cozy lounge, this spot wouldn’t be worth coming back to.

And yes, Phoebe did have some coffee, and she thoroughly enjoyed it, but she noticed that there are plenty of tea options for her fellow tea lovers out there.

Retro Coffee Quick Reference Guide




Coffee, Espresso, Lots of Hot Tea Options, Pastries from Macrina Bakery, Salads


6am - 5pm Monday - Friday 7am - 1pm Saturdays and Sundays

Our Verdict

Functional coffee shop with good coffee, but not very comfortable seating. It’s only worth going if the lounge in the Madison Centre lobby with the fireplace is open.

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Adam Neubauer Writer For In The Great Wide Travel Lifestyle Blog Thirsty Thursdays


In The Great Wide Travel Lifestyle Blog Phoebe and Adam at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Scotland

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This is our travel lifestyle blog where we not only share stories from our adventures while traveling the world, but also our thorough research of the places we visit & practical advice on how to save money so you can travel more too!

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