Standing in line at a Capitol Hill coffee shop, three days after I had my very first cup of coffee ever, I realize it’s a good thing I never tried hard drugs. It took just one americano to turn me into a regular.

I’ve never denied the alluring aroma of just-ground beans or the bracing scent of fresh brew. The taste though? Not even coffee ice cream or chocolate-covered espresso beans appealed, despite my Northwest roots. “Try a mocha, it’s like hot cocoa,” people said. I saw a quick way to ruin a perfectly nice hot chocolate. The secret shame of a Diet Coke habit blossomed instead, and I felt like an outsider not just in Seattle’s independent cafes but its hangout, conversational culture.

The most frequent advice I received on my quest to try coffee: “Just don’t go to Starbucks.” At the ultra-chill Analog Coffee, where chic wood-paneled white walls and the Herkimer Coffee menu felt sufficiently legit, I ordered an americano, black. In for a penny, right?

At first sip, my heart sank at the prospect of downing the whole thing. Bitterness like this belongs in an IPA or an alt-country song, not this aggressive cup of hot punishment. Chagrined, I asked the barista to add cream and sugar and purchased a Sea Wolf Bakers cheesy lye roll. Suddenly it wasn’t so hard to down all eight ounces.

For once I felt part of a coffee shop’s social web. Friends made future dinner plans in the Analog line; dogs tied to the fence perfected pathetic “pet me” looks. I marveled at a heated conversation about “dinosaur haircuts” between a barista and a regular until I realized they were discussing shaving cats, not humans, with a stegosaurus pattern.

Confession: It was the Sea Wolf pastries that drew me back on day two. This time I admitted to being a total coffee newb and asked for barista advice. The high price tag for a pour-over Colombian Los Naranjos made sense—a smoother, more interesting cup thanks to the time-intensive process. The next day the same brew as drip coffee delivered the now-familiar hints of dates and brownies in a faster, cheaper order.

The true test of my new affection—or addiction—will be whether I ever order a cup without a croissant or scone; these midmorning treats dent my bank account like a slow-motion hailstorm. But I’m already calling Analog “my coffee shop.” Turns out I had a true Seattle coffee snob inside me all along.


Shops for Total Coffee Immersion

Boon Boona

A Renton favorite, now also open on Capitol Hill, roasts and pours single-origin coffee from East Africa. 

Phin

The Little Saigon coffee shop is so dedicated to Vietnamese coffee culture, it bypassed the typical espresso machine and brews only with the traditional phin filter. 

Analog Coffee

From espresso tonics to rotating roasters, Capitol Hill’s tiny hangout stays on the forefront of coffee, without being the least bit snobby about it. 

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