Driven to Espresso: Drive-through Coffee Stands in the Northwest

If you think coffee culture is cool, you have come to the right place. I have loads of information and opinions to share about espresso in the Pacific Northwest, especially the drive-through phenomenon.

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Location: Edmonds, WA, United States

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Epicurean, circa 1973

I can't recall the very first time I tasted coffee. Most likely it was when I was very young and sitting in my Dad's lap after dinner. I doubt that I liked it much, and probably not solely because it was instant, but it was such a grown-up flavor! It had at least that much going for it. That would have been in the late 50s.

I do, however, remember about when I first tasted espresso. That was much later, when I was in college at the University of Cincinnati. My girlfriend (now my wife) and I were introduced to it by a friend of ours (thanks Richard!) late one night after an evening of music and drinking beer. We did that occasionally. Once the bars closed there were few places we could go—other than home to bed, that is. One was Skyline Chili, a Cincinnati phenomenon and another whole story, and another was Buskin Bakery which, as I recall, was open all night while they were concocting their goodies. The third place was the Epicurean in Mt. Adams.

Mt. Adams has always been a particularly cool neighborhood in Cincinnati and is also one of the oldest. It sits perched on a steep hill adjacent to the downtown. Like much of the overall atmosphere of that neighborhood, the Epicurean was small, eclectic, and open late. That was where we learned about the super strong coffee served in tiny cups. Just the thing after our night of consumption. It was quiet and cozy and we'd sit there exploring their menu of coffee drinks, loud rock music still ringing in our ears.

All of these memories came back to me the other day because my wife asked me if I knew of any coffeehouses open late in Seattle. I couldn't think of any. I mean truly late. For example, The Wayward Coffeehouse calls itself "Greenwood's ONLY late night coffeehouse" but 11 pm isn't the kind of late night I'm talking about. I can't attest to the late hours Cafe Allegro may have had back when it first opened in 1975, and would have been the equivalent to the Epicurean for U Dub students, but its current closing time is a mere 10:30. The Bauhaus on Capitol Hill is open till 1 AM—much better.

Maybe there are true late-night cafes around Seattle, but frankly, my late nights are not what they once were, and I haven't devoted much enthusiastic energy trying to find them all. It would be swell if some of my readers would clue me in on the late-night coffeehouse scene here. Don't misunderstand me—I'm not saying I'd frequent such a coffeehouse at those hours anymore. I'm just not sure there are any in the first place. And anyway, for me the Epicurean will always have their unique spot in my love of coffee.


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