Coffee Corner: Lighthouse Roasters in Seattle, Washington
I can't help but romanticize coffee shops. It's the community of it all, the rituals that are more than just routines, the familiar faces you see before the day really begins, the freshly-ground-coffee-smell that never gets old.
Lighthouse Roasters is the epitome of my favorite things: It's a small, neighborhood cafe that roasts its beans on-site in vintage, cast-iron roasters. Dare I say it's the type of Seattle coffee shop experience that started the coffee revolution in the state.
When you step in the door, you won't miss the roaster. It's in the back to the left, surrounded by the staple brown coffee jute bags you'll see at any roaster. You know when they're actively roasting not just because the machine is rotating, but because you can smell the chocolatey, smokey scent of freshly roasted beans from down the street.
While visiting Seattle, I was fortunate enough to be staying just a few blocks away from this place. It's set right in the midst of a residential neighborhood and there are no other businesses immediately nearby (though there are some up the street in several directions.)
Every morning, with sleep still blurring my eyes, I walked the distance and got in line, right there with everyone else in the neighborhood. There's not much room inside, so the line usually wrapped around the outside of the store. Customers couldn't help to chit chat -- "can I pet your dog?" "How old is your daughter now?" "That storm yesterday was crazy, right? Thank goodness it'll be sunny today" aren't uncommon to hear.
The two or three baristas -- always the same faces -- work through the line with ease. They know most people by name and by order, and it's not unusual for them to start making a drink before the order is actually made.
When you get inside, you see just how straightforward of a cafe this is. There are some chairs, there's a little decor, and some shirts and mugs with decals available, but the star of the show is the coffee itself. Cute, aesthetic decorations aren't needed when the beans are this good.
My go-to order is an Americano (Espresso shots with water) with a little oat milk or an oat milk latte with one packet of sugar. I switched it up between the two on my days visiting Lighthouse Roasters and I was never disappointed. Since they take such pride in their roasting, I guarantee a typical black coffee would also be delicious from here. The pastries are great, too. Not a huge selection, but I got a blueberry muffin one day, an almond croissant another day, and a glazed donut more than once because it's a requirement to eat a donut with your coffee whenever possible. There are molasses cookies and flavored donuts and chocolate croissants, too. Something for every type of sweet tooth.
Now, onto my favorite part of this cafe -- and it might be a little controversial -- but there's no WiFi here at Lighthouse Roasters, and I love that about this place! It's a small cafe - probably too small to comfortably work in any way - and the neighborhood quality of it all begs for you to actually talk to your fellow customers. I'd go so far as to say that the lack of wifi here is one of the most endearing qualities of the place.
I walked right past this cafe several times during my week in Seattle. There was almost always someone sitting on the bench right outside or someone chatting with the baristas over the counter when I walked by, which only made it more of a neighborhood gem to my tourist eye.
It's worth noting that I know there are other cafes in Seattle that are bigger and grander and more aesthetically pleasing than this (like the largest Starbucks in the country!). Those places are great too, probably also have endearing qualities and a decent cup of joe, but that's not what I came to Seattle looking for. Maybe when I visit Seattle again, I'll visit some of those places and write up a review. But this cafe seemed like the ideal one to start my Coffee Corner series with - it's straightforward, welcoming, and shows you exactly what it is, and it was exactly where I wanted to start my days while visiting Seattle for the first time in my adult life.
Kaley's Coffee Corner Quick Facts:
Location: 400 N 43rd Street, Seattle WA 98103
Hours: 6:30 AM - 7 PM on weekdays; 7 AM - 7 PM on weekends
What to order: Black coffee OR Latte with a donut
Why it made the list: Quintessential neighborhood coffee shop vibes.
Vintage roaster for on-site roasting Small shop with familiar, friendly places
Located in the middle of a residential neighborhood
Cute outdoor sitting area