Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ghost Alley Espresso

Once again it's time for the "Monthly Grind". This is where I put the spotlight on a local coffee shop. The visit this month takes us to Ghost Alley Espresso to see what all the buzz is about! 

With it being the Fall season and Halloween already here, I knew I wanted to do a spooky blog for October. I actually was told about Ghost Alley Espresso from my friend Ryan who sent me a photo and suggested I check it out.

The coffee shop is located at 1499 Post Alley in Seattle WA. It's in a unique location right under the iconic Pike Place Market. If you make it to the gum wall...Yes I said gum wall…you went to far! For the non-Seattlities, there is a wall on the side of a building full of gum from random people donating their used gum. This will have to be a different blog all together. 
The history of this coffee shop is really very interesting. With the history of the space dating back to the 60's! It was once used as a woman's restroom, then a storage unit for a couple different business in the market. Another interesting fact. there are two access tunnels, now closed up, was told to me was once used to move people who had overdosed on drugs. They would then move the individuals through the tunnel and away from the market and away from public view. Apparently not everyone was lucky enough to be saved in time. I was fascinated listening to Jim, the lead manager, tell me countless stories about the history and background about the location and the market in general. 

Jim not only helps manage the coffee shop, he also leads the daily ghost tour offered by the coffee shop! Ghost Alley Espresso started serving coffee about two years ago. I was fortunate it too be visiting the cafe when Mercedes the Owner, and her dog Nicolas stopped in to refill supplies. I got a chance to talk to her for a little while. She is very proud of how far her little coffee shop has come and what it has become today. She also mentioned it's too bad I wasn't going to be visiting next week. They are very excited to be getting a ModBar installed. She told me this is the first of it's kind to be installed in Seattle. This unique coffee bar system is installed under the counter. Be sure to click on the link and check it out! I will definitely be back to see the new installed and sample a coffee from it!

I ended up ordering one of their most popular coffee's…the Salty Nut latte. It's a mix of two flavors: salted carmel and hazelnut flavors. As Jim prepared my latte I continued to ask him a lot of questions and find out as much as I could about the coffee shop. Of course one of the questions I had to ask…"Is it haunted, and have you seen any ghosts?" He did say that yes the market is haunted and there has been numerous occasions of spooky things that has happened inside the coffee shop. Instances such as books falling off the shelf, strange noises and a few other unexplained occurrences. He mentioned that with the market being a landmark and it's long history there is bound to be some spooky things to happen.  I suppose that is why there is a ghost tour offered. Being that myself has always been fascinated with the paranormal, I will definitely be booking a tour soon! The coffee shop is meeting point and the start of the tour. You can grab a latte and indulge yourself into some of Seattle's history while enjoying some great coffee…and maybe even see a ghost! 

Overall I really have to hand it to Mercedes and her team for creating a unique and fun coffee experience. While it isn't the biggest space, it really is a cosy and inviting space. Be sure to check out their ghostly items for sale and maybe pick up a bag of coffee from their partner Middle Fork Roasters. A local Seattle roaster about 4 miles from the market. Apparently delivered to the cafe by bike! If you still don't have plans this Halloween why not book a ghost tour? You can by visiting their website:

In closing, I highly recommend checking out this coffee shop. Why not grab a cup of coffee and stroll the beautiful and exciting Pike Place Market!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Caribbean Coffee Adventure

I’m back from a long break! So a little info on why I haven’t had a blog update in so long. Back in July I started working a new job…this job happens to be on a cruise ship! It isn’t always so easy to keep up on my blog entries. Of course that doesn’t mean I stopped drinking coffee nor does it mean I don’t have lots to share with you!

My ship cruised between Miami and the Caribbean islands. It was amazing to experience the culture and meet a lot of nice people from the Caribbean! It was also great to drink some amazing coffee while being there and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Café Trinité is a very popular Caribbean coffee brand. This Caribbean Coffee House was originally started as OK Coffee in Trinidad in 1931 by the Melizans, coffee plantation owners, and by José Perez a Cuban coffee connoisseur and roast master.

On each package of coffee they display a colorful historical background picture of the Caribbean. The artwork is an extensive collection of Dermott Louison's. He was born and raised in Trinidad around the second world war. Each of his works of art display a variety of characters and customs of what life in those days were like. I think it is really special that they showcase the artwork and it adds a little history to the coffee.

I brought home some packages of this coffee to give as gifts for my friends and family. They have a wide variety of flavored coffee’s such as mocha, coconut and of course just original coffee. I haven’t tried all the flavors yet…but from tasting just the original I really liked it! I have to admit it is a really strong coffee…I lived up to my name Coffee Buzzed after drinking this coffee! The friends who have tried it so far has really enjoyed it as well. I hope to try the other flavors soon.

Another coffee that I brought home with me was from the Tortuga Rum company. This brand is also very well know in the Caribbean. It is also a very popular gift in the cruise ship industry. I also brought home some of the Tortuga Rum Coffee for my friends and I to try. A little taste of the islands! I have some friends who are big fans of rum and I just knew they would love to try this. They have a variety of flavors of the rum coffee. I brought home just the original rum coffee. I got to try it a couple weeks ago and was presently surprised on how good it tasted!

Now of course you know I visited a few Starbucks on my travels. I was happy to see that they had a Starbucks in Nassau, Bahamas! It was fun to see how they do things a little different then they do in the States. I know a lot of cruise passengers were very happy to see a Starbucks too! It felt nice to have a familiar site in the Bahamas. Now like I was saying they do things a little different…they are a bit more behind on their drink choices. For example I would go into a store in Miami and they would have some of the new drinks choices out and then I would go that some week thinking I could get that same drink in Nassau…but nope! I really noticed it during Christmas time. They were really late on the holiday drinks and didn’t even have the same ones! I’m not complaining it was just something that I found interesting. Another thing I noticed was that the Miami Starbucks stores offered Cuban or Spanish drink choices. I didn’t try them…and now I’m kicking myself for that!

I really enjoyed learning and observing the Caribbean culture in the Bahamas. Coffee was just a bonus in the culture. I was really happy to take a little of the islands back to my friends and my family. My next ship goes between New Orleans and Mexico. It will also head up the West Coast and then to Seattle and Alaska! I can’t wait to write my next blog on all the coffee experiences from all these regions!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vancouver, BC Coffee Tour

While in Vancouver, British Columbia last month, I visited a couple different coffee houses. This is definitely one of my favorite places to visit. Canadians love their coffee just as much as us Seattlities!

My first stop was to Caffè Artigiano. These cafes first started pouring coffee to customers in the year 2000. The Italian-themed coffeehouse and bistros are quite popular and are opening up new locations all time. After walking the streets of downtown I was ready for a coffee. I stepped into one of these inviting cafes to try them out. I ordered the "Artigiano Cappuccino". I always find it fascinating to watch a barista perform their artistic techniques making a cup of coffee. The first sip hit me by surprise, it had a strong but flavorful taste to it. Just what I needed to start off my day. I really was impressed with the coffee flavor and enjoyed the cafe atmosphere.

After walking around the waterfront and more of the city, the time came for another coffee stop. This stop was into a Blenz coffeehouse. I've visited many Blenz locations on past visits to Vancouver. Blenz first opened in 1992, to now having over 61 locations in British Columbia. It also operates internationally in Japan and the Philippines. This particular location really impressed me with its decor. It felt like stepping into an art gallery. I ordered a cup of their drip coffee and a tasty treat to go with it. I know their coffee is delicious and this visit was no different. I sipped my coffee while doing a bit of people watching. Blenz is a popular coffee stop through out the city and never disappoints.

I did happen to stop into a Starbucks during the trip. I won't talk much about them since almost every Starbucks is the same. That being said, I did want to mention a couple of things. Canadian Starbuck's always serve your drink with the lid off. Not sure why this is, but I myself like the lid already on the cup. I have also found these delicious treats called "Oat fudge bar". I've only been able to find these in Canadian Starbuck's stores. They are so delicious and I wish they would bring them to the USA soon!

For more information on either location, check out these websites:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Perkins Coffee Company

It’s time for the “Monthly Grind”. This is where I put the spotlight on a local coffee shop. The visit this month takes us to Perkins Coffee Company to see what all the buzz is about.

Sorry I didn't post a blog last month :( But I will make up by posting a couple extra this month! I recently returned from a trip to Canada on a mini cruise along Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Before the trip, I started talking to Sarah Chauncey, the person in charge of Perkins Coffee social media. I mentioned the cruise ship would be stopping in Nanaimo and I would love to visit the coffee shop.

After the ship docked I boarded the shuttle bus that took us into the small but inviting little town. Nanaimo is nestled between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It is also home to the famous "Nanaimo bar". After walking through the local farmers market and strolling the iconic harbour I was ready for some coffee!

I easily found Perkins in the heart of downtown. Once inside I asked for Sarah, the barista pointed me to the corner of the room...a.k.a "Sarah's office". We exchanged greetings and chatted about how great it was to finally meet in person! I asked if Kevin Perry the owner was around. He had just got back from making a catering delivery. One of the services they offer as part of the Perkins Coffee Company. 

After chatting with Kevin, I learned that his mother Lila is also a huge part to the success of the business. He even invited me into the back of the shop to meet her in person and see all that goes on behind the scenes. The smell of fresh baked bread was amazing! The coffee shop was purchased by Kevin & his mother from previous owners. They decided to keep the name Perkins Coffee. Not only do they sell a great cup of coffee, they offer a wide selection of sweet treats and savory homemade sandwiches. They are supplied by Spirit Bear Coffee Company. Their coffee blends are named after several different types of animals, mammals and even reptiles. I chose a cup of the Orca blend. Kevin also offered me a Nanaimo bar to go with it.  The coffee was a dark roast and was delicious. The Nanaimo bar was very sweet and rich. I would say one of those is plenty! Having both the bar and the coffee was a perfect paring.

I knew I must try one of the famous sandwiches too. Kevin was so generous he had one ordered for me to take to go! I devoured it once I got back to the ship. It was nearing lunch time and the coffee shop was quickly filling up with both the locals and fellow cruise ship passengers. Kevin and Sarah both had to get back to work too. I knew it was time for me to be on my way. 

Perkins Coffee Company was one of my favorite stops along my trip! Meeting Sarah, Kevin, Lila and all the staff of Perkins was really special. I would definitely recommend making a visit on your next visit to Vancouver Island. Not only are the people here super nice, they have great coffee and food to satisfy any craving you have. I will cherish the friendships I made here and can't thank them enough for everything!

A few links to share:
Perkins Coffee Company:
Spirit Bear Coffee Company:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tilikum Place Cafe

It’s time for the “Monthly Grind”. This is where I put the spotlight on a local coffee shop. The visit this month takes us to Tilikum Place Cafe to see what all the buzz is about.

After seeing this cafe featured on Anthony Bourdain's "The Layover" show I knew I had to visit this place! The cafe is located at 407 Cedar Street, Seattle. Located near the famous Seattle Space Needle, it is kinda a hard place to spot. Tucked away from the main road, one thing to look for is the the Chief Sealth statue.


My friend Nathan and I happened to already be downtown Seattle and was looking for a place to go for breakfast. It was St. Patrick's day and the streets were full of runners participating in the St. Patty's day dash. When we arrived the place was packed and the hostest asked if we had a reservation. Of course we didn't and it was looking doubtful that we would get seated. Just an FYI, apparently weekends are very busy there and they request that you make reservations ahead of time! I mentioned I had seen them on the Layover and was really looking forward to trying them out. She seemed excited about the mention of the show. She was so nice and was able to seat us at an already reserved table! It was a perfect window bench table with a view of the street. We enjoyed watching all the runners go by in their green costumes.

I wanted to try something Bourdain had talked about called the Dutch baby. It is somewhat a famous Seattle breakfast dish that is a cross between a pancake and a souffle. He described it as "crispy on the outside and dense and eggy on the inside." The batter is usually made with a little vanilla, some sugar and cinnamon. Sounded delicious to me! So I ordered that and Nathan ordered the corn beef and hash since after all it was St. Patrick's day.

Finally on to the main part of the blog, the coffee! Offered was a list of unique coffee options with along side the normal brews. One particular coffee concoction "The Nutty Irishman" caught my eye. It consisted of Bailey's, Frangelico and Bushmills, served with a press-pot of coffee. Well as soon as I read it I wanted it! Of course with it being the Irish holiday I thought it would be fun to try. It was kinda pricey coming in at $9.50 for just the coffee drink itself. When it arrived to the table they had the alcohol in a shot glass accompanied by the press-pot and a glass. It is kinda a do-it-yourself drink which I thought was a nice way to serve it. That way you can choose your own balance of liquids in the glass. We both were joking around the fact that I was drinking alcohol at nine in the morning. This was also a first for me having alcohol with my coffee, bringing a different type of Coffee Buzzed!

At the first sip it definitely was not the typical coffee drink for me. The alcohol was very strong at first but the coffee helped smooth out the taste. It really was a lot of unique tastes in each drink taken. I really did like the drink but it is not something I would get all the time. Something perhaps you would want to get on a special occasion. The food arrived not long after the coffee. Nathan really enjoyed the corn beef and hash and mentioned it several times on how good it was! I did steel a couple bites and I agree it was very tasty! The Dutch baby does take longer to make so that is something to consider. I was so excited when it arrived at the table. It comes to you in a personal sized cast iron skillet. They offer a couple different types of Dutch baby's at the cafe. I went with the  sweet side option that had pineapple chunks cooked inside. I really enjoyed the dish and was not something I have had before. It was surprising how much food was in that little skillet.

Wow so this turned out to be a very long blog write up! In closing, this was really was a great place to visit and enjoy a great meal and maybe try some unique food and coffee! I would highly recommend stopping in if you're downtown Seattle. But just don't forget you may want to call ahead for a table.

Tilikum Place Cafe website:
Some info on "The Layover" episode:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Metronome Coffee

It’s time for the “Monthly Grind”. This is where I put the spotlight on a local coffee shop. The visit this month takes us to Metronome Coffee to see what all the buzz is about.

In my past monthly grind visits I have tended to visit a lot of Seattle coffee shops. Felt it was time to branch out and visit a different city. I found Metronome Coffee in the north end of Tacoma. The metronome (used by musicians to help keep a steady tempo as they play, or to work on issues of irregular timing) is seen all over this coffee house and is even used in its logo. I was told that the owner is a big fan of music. There were several posters for local music acts and discovered they even hold live music events inside the coffee house.

I have visited this coffee shop in the past and had one of the best mocha's ever in my life. I asked the barista what makes it so good. She told me that they really focus and take the time on making a great cup of coffee. I also found out that all the chocolate syrup's are made in house! So I again went with what I knew was good and ordered a mocha. It too was just as good as what I had before.
I enjoyed people watching and taking in all that this very modern coffee house had to offer. It really has the atmosphere that a lot of young people would be drawn too. I wouldn't limit it to only the younger crowd either, I saw a variety of ages come and go during my visit. I really liked the musical theme displayed throughout the inside. I could tell that it had that "hipster" vibe, which in no means is a bad thing.

This coffee house does not limit itself to just coffee. It also serves a variety of local Washington wines and beer selections. I was really impressed in their large tea offerings too. If you are interested in trying a specialty brew, they do a trifecta, pour over, cold brew, syphon brew, chemex and of course the French press.

So in closing, if you are in the Tacoma area and you are looking for a great cup of coffee with a modern setting check out Metronome Coffee located at 6th & Union Tacoma, WA. I highly recommend it!

You can visit their website at:
They were also highlighted in a story on CNBC called "Coffee Addiction":


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Starbucks Eco-Friendly Shipping Container Store

It’s time for the “Monthly Grind”. This is where I put the spotlight on a local coffee shop. The visit this month takes us to the Starbucks "Eco-Friendly" Shipping Container store to see what all the buzz is about.

I visited this Starbucks back in October with my fellow caffeinated friend Ryan. I heard about this new Starbucks opening up south of Seattle. Starbucks is calling this an "up-cycled" way of building. It takes old metal shipping containers and recycling them into a functional coffee shop! 

The store is located at 10100 East Marginal Way in Tukwila Washington. It is made up of a total of four shipping containers and is a drive/walk up location only. It measures 448 square feet with just enough room for three baristas to work. It does have a nice area for customers to sit outside and includes a bathroom made into the end of one of the containers. One extra neat "eco-friendly" idea they had was to make the roof designed with drains to recycle rain water, which is piped to irrigate the plants near the store. 

When we visited this store it was still the Fall season. We both ended up ordering one of our favorite drinks the salted carmel frappuccino. So yummy, I wish they had them year round! The baristas were very friendly and fast with our order. There was a chill in the air sitting outside so we ended up going back to the car. It makes for a much better place to sit and talk during the warmer months.

In closing, I just really want to say that I think it is really great that Starbucks has a great determination to reuse and recycle any material they can. This should be a model to encourage cooperation's that "green building" is important to protecting the environment! I hope to see more of these buildings built and can't wait to see what they they think of next. Go check out this store and see for yourself what a great thing they have done here...

Thanks to these websites for additional info & pictures: