If something can be impressively generic, I feel that Caffè Appassionato: Wallingford should win that award. You, being a fan of the place, may take offense at this, but first: read on. When I say "impressively generic," I mean it was so generic I actually was impressed.
Located at the corner of N 45th Street and Stone Way N, Caffè Appassionato is a fairly recent addition to a handful of places bearing the name around the Seattle area (and... one store in Massachusetts?). They all serve their "passionate coffee" from Magnolia, taking the name from the roasting company, but from what I've been told, each location is independently owned and operated. I point this out for one important reason. I visited Caffè Appassionato in Wallingford due to the recommendation of a friend (familiar with their Shoreline location) who informed me it was one of the best places around Seattle to get coffee. And I want to say that I don't disbelieve you, friend. I just haven't been to Shoreline yet.
As far as Wallingford goes, though, here are my thoughts:
This is not a location set up for coffee. The area existing between bar, register, and pastry case, the inconveniently placed pillar (between the bar and register), and an overall arrangement disallowing any consistent direction to flow of traffic on either the customer or employee side of things makes the situation flat-out uncomfortable for anyone who has worked in coffee and has to stand and look at the setup without being able to do a thing to fix it. What acts as a saving grace, in my limited observation, is that this isn't likely to turn into a high-volume store. It lives on the corner of the least pedestrian intersection in a district where businesses all rely on pedestrian traffic. A lot of people drive by, but I doubt that many walk in. At least, not in the couple hours I was sitting there. It stayed neither empty nor full; not dead, but also not busy. Right in the middle, much like the rest of it.
I was unimpressed by the coffee. They were brewing their "morning passion" roast, which I am told is one of their most popular. And while it was fine, it wasn't interesting. I can see it being a good morning coffee, as there isn't anything threatening or thought-provoking about it. (A morning coffee for not-morning-people!) The barista on duty was great, friendly and accommodating and conversational, but thoroughly burned the rice milk for my latte, and the espresso hadn't retained enough flavor to help it out. Additionally, sadly, the mugs were only about as cool as the ones you get at a complimentary average-hotel breakfast.
On the flip side, this is a great location for studying. There is nothing distracting about it, and it's fairly pleasant. It feels like a coffee shop that ought to be attached to a bookstore, with its heavy furniture, occasional arm chairs, wood paneling, and very academic lamps. The music is all Ben Gibbard-esque, and there isn't much to look at outside the windows. It is perfect for reading, if uninspiring for writing, and I got through the bulk of Whitman's "Drump Taps" with no interruption. (I am reading "Drum Taps" in an effort to grasp some greater context for Ralph Vaughan William's "Dona Nobis Pacem," paper #5 on the march toward All Done.)
Unfortunately, my creative spirit got bored and wandered off, which means I didn't even remember to get a picture. So you'll have to take my word for it (unless you visit) that the terrace is very like a lot of the newer strip mall architecture of Atlanta, which can't make up its mind what exactly it would like to be, and so tends to make all its patterns out of squares. Those of you who have been to Atlanta might know what I mean. The rest of you... I'm sorry. If you post a complaint, I'll try to get a friend to take a picture for you.