What’ll It Be? Alta’s Favorite West Coast Coffee.

Michael Bauer’s edible (and drinkable) tour of Seattle inspires a caffeinated poll.

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery aims to be a shrine for coffee lovers.
The Starbucks Reserve Roastery aims to be a shrine for coffee lovers.

Craving pig brain? How about lamb tongues? A popular Seattle pop-up called Fowl & Offal is set to transition its head-to-tail offerings into a new restaurant this spring. This anticipated organ-ic spot (to be named Off Alley) isn’t open yet, so it had no chance of being included in Michael Bauer’s sumptuous Emerald City food feature in our Winter 2020 issue. Spots that did make the cut include JuneBaby, which offers elegant Southern food; Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar, serving margarita oysters; and Sushi Kashiba, a raw fish mecca helmed by a veteran sushi chef. Dig in right here

Bauer compares Seattle’s culinary prowess to that of San Francisco—high praise from the James Beard Award–winning former San Francisco Chronicle food critic. While I admit to knowing little about Pacific Northwest dining trends, I was delighted to see Bauer’s mention of Seattle’s Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Starbucks: that’s one name, for better or worse, we’re all familiar with.

Inspired by Bauer’s write-up of the roastery (“Be prepared to witness and enjoy coffee as never before”), we polled Alta’s Twitter followers and asked which West Coast coffee chain makes the best cup of coffee. The totally unscientific results (Twitter polls only allow four options) might surprise you:

Starbucks: 52 percent
Peet’s: 22 percent
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: 19 percent
Blue Bottle: 7 percent

Alta’s caffeinated staff couldn’t help but chime in with their favorite West Coast coffee drinks: 

  • Gustavo Arellano, contributing writer: Cafe de olla (Mexican-style, cinnamon-laced coffee) from Alta Baja Market in Santa Ana, California (owned by Arellano’s wife), which uses beans from Wilson Coffee in Costa Mesa, California. 
  • Michael Bauer, contributing writer: A cup of Peet’s brew (preferably Guatemala San Sebastián, Colombian, or Holiday Blend).
  • Amy Bonetti, marketing director: Iced caffe mocha from Peet’s.
  • Will Hearst, editor and publisher: Deconstructed latte at Slate Coffee Roasters in Seattle’s Ballard District and a cortado at Farley’s on San Francisco’s Potrero Hill. 
  • Lindsey J. Smith, editorial and operations director: Dark roast served black from A’Roma Roasters in Santa Rosa, California. 
  • Blaise Zerega, managing editor: Espresso at Vega Coffee in San Francisco’s SoMa. It’s everything an espresso should be, and best of all, they won’t make it to go. Either slam it come gli Italiani or sit down and savor.

    As for me, I’m a Peet’s person. And if you’ve ever seen me at an Alta event, you may have noticed the ever-present cold brew in my hand. What about you? Who makes your favorite cup of West Coast coffee? Let us know and we’ll include some top picks in next week’s newsletter.

    This article originally appeared in Alta‘s January 23, 2020 newsletter. Not getting our free weekly newsletter? Sign-up (on your upper right) today!

    Beth Spotswood is Alta's digital editor, events manager, and a contributing writer.
    Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
    More From Alta Newsletter