Seattle adventures, life, home, and coffee—in no particular order
A: Mike McConnell
The fourteenth day of our coffee shop journey brought us to the Capitol Hill Caffé Vita—the epicenter of McConnell’s local coffee empire. McConnell is something of an Emerald City foodie baron: his reach includes Vita, the Trib five-some, Pike Street Fish Fry, and Cremant, not to mention part ownership of Neumo’s and the newly revived Crocodile.
Vita, which started in Queen Anne back in ’95, is arguably Seattle’s favorite indie coffee. What began humbly has now expanded to five locations in Seattle—the Hill, Queen Anne, Pioneer Square, Fremont, and Seward Park—one in Olympia and another in Portland, as well as wholesale.
The origins of Vita’s masked mascot, Punchinello, are explained on the company’s website. To make a short story shorter, the “famous trickster and early radical” emerged from Naples and became a symbol of humor, radicalism, and pleasure:
Coffee + Chocolate = Happiness
Vita recently partnered with Seattle’s Theo Chocolate to create coffee-infused chocolate (read: two of my all-time favorite indulgences). (Get more info from NYTimes here.) I’ve yet to try the resulting pairing, but hopefully it won’t be long before that changes…
On the catwalk
On Sunday’s snowy mountain hike, I peppered my aunt with questions on her job as accountant with the Vita/Trib enterprise. Today Doodle and I bumped into our aunt literally seconds after we walked through the door of the café. She showed us around the small upstairs office space (complete with the requisite office dog), and ushered us onto the cat walk for a bird’s eye view of the roasting and packaging plant.
We watched as green beans were dumped into the roasting vats, while across the room already roasted beans were sifted into waiting bags. On the opposite edge of the space, Vita-ites sipped and spat their way through a weekly cupping. The smell was intense, and the scene was fascinating.
I’m a big Vita fan. The beans are organic, farm-direct, and locally roasted, and the coffee is strong and tasty.
The multi-level Capital Hill location is an ideal place for relaxing, working, studying, and meeting. The second floor had plenty of tables and outlets and a killer view of the daily happenings on Pike Street.
Now if only our aunt could convince them to open a Vita in West Seattle… (*subtle cough*)