I was chatting with Jill Killen, founder of Cloud City Coffee, on a chilly spring morning when a customer stopped by and told her: "I love this place, it’s part of my life now."
Killen said this customer has been a regular for years, much like many other customers. Cloud City Coffee has great coffee and delicious food, but community is the foundation of this Maple Leaf landmark.
Killen says, "The connections are what it’s all about."
From day one of operation, this independent coffee shop focused on building and supporting the community. With a nook filled with toys and books for kids, drip coffee priced for customers on a budget, and a welcoming presence for all neighbors, ("We didn't want anyone to not feel welcome in our cafe," Killen notes), Cloud City Coffee lives up its mission of being a community-centered enterprise.
The community, paired with fresh-roasted coffee and eats, makes Cloud City Coffee a hot spot in the Maple Leaf neighborhood.
Killen points out, "We make most everything in-house from scratch, we source great ingredients, and we roast excellent coffee."
She started roasting coffee in 2018, and this year, earned a "Good Food Award" for an Ethiopian roast.
Besides coffee, their most popular item is their coconut bread. And as a response to customer requests, their menu has plenty of vegan offerings. Next up? Cloud City Coffee will add ice cream to its menu for the summer months this year.
As Cloud City continues to roast coffee and prepare delicious food, they simultaneously continue to focus on the community.
Killen says, "Cloud City pretty much always answers the call for anything the community needs, whether it's use of our front space for tabling, donations to schools and churches and a meeting place for any groups that need to meet."
The cafe has a phone booth-turned-little free pantry connected to the building. Employees keep the pantry stocked with basic hygiene items - socks, feminine products, gloves - for any neighbor to take. And the bathroom is always open for any community member to use.
And the focus on community at Cloud City extends to employees. Killen ensures that all employees receive a living wage (at minimum). She participates in a program called Living Wage for Us, which certifies that employers follow up on their promise to pay living wages. When you enjoy your expertly-crafted espresso drink, you know that your dollars are supporting living wages for your neighbors.
So scoot on up to Cloud City, grab a coffee and a pastry or sandwich, and enjoy outside seating (which will soon be a permanent structure with heat) or walk over to enjoy the mountain views at Maple Leaf Reservoir Park. You won’t be disappointed.
Cloud City Coffee is located at 8801 Roosevelt Way NE in Seattle.