It's not a surprise that our fair city was named the "best place for coffee" in the September issue of Food & Wine magazine. After all, any Seattleite worth their weight in coffee beans bleeds espresso right? But along with the distinction, Food & Wine also ranked six of the best coffee shops by how "snobby" they are.Number one on the list? Milstead & Co. in Fremont. Owner Andrew Milstead finds the title amusing.
"We're not your typical grab and go. We find the best of the best in coffee and we like to educate our customers on the product," explained Milstead. "Perhaps that's where the snob distinction comes from."
In a market saturated with coffee options, Milstead has built a brand beloved by purveyors of fine coffee. Even still, there's nothing pretentious about this place. Step into the shop and you'll find a mix of everyone here, men in business suits, women in yoga outfits, moms with kids, cyclists with tattoo sleeves. All of them however, have one commonality. They love quality coffee.
This is where you go when you care not only where the coffee originated, but how the coffee is stored and brewed - right down to the temperature settings. The baristas individually brew each cup, and they take their time chatting to each customer, even when there is a line. Which means if you're in a hurry, Milstead & Co is not for you.
"Good service can make a good product great," says Milstead. "But bad service can make a good product bad. People come here for not only the coffee, but the service too." Milstead is so dedicated to that principle, he wrote it in his business plan.
So what do the patrons think of the snob title?
"I really enjoy giving support to local shops," said Katie Drury-Tanner who lives in West Seattle, but made a point of visiting the shop while in Fremont. When we met, she was feeding a toddler in one hand while holding a newborn baby in the other. "There aren't many places that offer this type of space, and as a mom the patio is a nice touch."
Kevin Walsh, a regular at Milstead & Co. believes snob is just another way of saying the people at Milstead & Co. are passionate about coffee. "The location is really good, the people are even better. And the way they're pouring coffee? It has great profile."
I laughed. "Only someone who really knows coffee would say it has a "great profile."
"Really? I can see that. I guess that's what makes it the snobbiest!" says Walsh.
"And for you that's not necessarily a bad thing?" I ask.
"Oh no. That's what makes this place great," Walsh laughed, as he took a sip of his expertly brewed Americano.
You can read the full list of best shops in the September issue of Food & Wine magazine.