The Seattle Weekly

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Street Bean Espresso (Belltown)

The word "hospitality" comes to mind. An open, sparsely decorated, reverberating space that sounds about three times as busy as it is (oh, and it is busy), where there is an abiding air of friendliness and an eagerness to please. The server allowing credit card transactions was down when I ordered, and because I had no cash, they handed me my coffee and waved me through: "It's on us. Sorry for the inconvenience!" Wait, sorry for the inconvenience of not being able to pay you? ... Thanks for the free coffee! (I caught up with them later, when the server came back online and I ordered hot cocoa, but they actually refused to charge me for the previous americano.)

Street Bean Espresso opened in November, in partnership with New Horizons Ministry right across the street from it. I am, I freely admit, swayed by the purpose of the work here: "Reclaiming young adult lives through empowering employment and providing them with hope for a new and successful future." Street Bean is the non-profit result of a vision for creating hope: a place of employment for young adults who have formerly lived on the streets of Seattle, and who are now trying on a new life. "Your coffee makes a difference," say all their signs. And it feels that way in here, as if you're a partner in the business, and they are honored that you've dropped in to say hi.

Street Bean Espresso: 2702 Third Avenue

Street Bean serves Caffe Lusso Coffee, a roaster in Redmond, WA, that believes in direct trade of organic coffee. It's the first time I've encountered this one. I find the espresso interesting in that, while I like it, it doesn't taste like any other Seattle area coffee to me. The primary characteristics of my americano were "mellow," and "warm," and "hospitable"... which some people probably like to call "inviting," but I prefer "hospitable," since coffee and hospitality go hand-in-hand to my mind. Put another way, whereas a lot of espresso says, "HELLO!" I would give the contrast that this one says, "You're welcome."

Now, I like my "hello!" coffee, so I am on the fence about this. I think it would make an excellent 8:00 pm accompaniment to post-dinner dessert. Very gentle on the palate, enjoyable to drink, and unobtrusive. And definitely requiring continued contemplation, which means that I will be back and there will be another post. But here's what I like, right off: This is a place full of passion and purpose. And you can't miss that. It is fueled by a community of people who care, not just about the coffee, but about the coffee growers, the coffee makers, and the coffee drinkers.

Beware the hot cocoa, though. It's like ganache. You need a spoon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe I would actually like this coffee! :-) I'd like to try it sometime. I would definitely like the hot cocoa. I had some like that in Mexico (I think) once, and it was *wonderful*!