In honor of International Coffee Day this week, I’m thinking back on probably the best tour I’ve taken while traveling, a coffee crawl in Seattle, Washington.
A number of years ago, I visited Seattle with a friend of mine to run the Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon. As big coffee lovers, we decided to start our trip with Seattle By Foot’s Coffee Crawl. This was the best decision we could have made, as it is still to this day the best tour I’ve ever taken!
Seattle weather is often grey and rainy, so it’s not surprising that people in Seattle consume more coffee than any other city in America. Seattle is known for it’s coffee, specifically their most famous coffee chain, Starbucks.
The first Starbucks opened in 1971 in the Pike Place Market at 2000 Western Avenue. In 1976, it moved just a short 1 minute walk away to 1912 Pike Place where it still operates today as the Original Starbucks. The store features the original logo and has kept it’s original appearance over all these years. It’s quite the tourist attraction and there is often a line to get in. But definitely worth visiting, as a major Starbucks fan, I was pretty excited to say I’ve been to the original Starbucks!
Now on to the Coffee Crawl. It was a small group, it was just me and my friend and 3 or 4 other people from what I can remember. The tour gave us some interesting history about coffee in Seattle. One thing we were surprised to learn was that the Seattle’s Best Coffee chain is actually owned by Starbucks. Here I always thought they were competitors, I guess I didn’t know my coffee chain trivia as well as I thought! Even though Seattle is known for these big giant brand name coffee shops, they also have alot of great independent coffee houses as well and we explored a few of these on the tour.
From lattes to mochas to espressos, we got to try it all at these wonderful Seattle cafes. It was interesting to hear more about the different types of coffees and cafes as well as see the large roasters that are used to help bring us these delicious coffees.
Our favorite shop was Caffe D’arte https://www.caffedarte.com/. If you are in the Seattle area, definitely check it out. Their latte was one of the best I’ve ever had! We definitely visited them again during our trip!
Another great thing about this tour was the sites of Seattle that were pointed out to us along the way. While visiting Caffe Umbria in Pioneer Square we stopped at the Waterfall Garden for photos. Pioneer Square is the neighborhood that took over the area that was once the headquarters of UPS, back when it first started and was known as American Messenger Service. The Anne E. Casey Foundation which was started by the founder of UPS still maintains this beautiful city park which features this 22 foot man-made waterfall.
The tour guide also told us about the local transportation options in the city, suggested restaurants and told us about some lesser known sites to see. It was definitely a perfect way to start off our first full day in Seattle.
Per our tour guide’s suggestion, we headed over to the Smith Tower after the tour. After taking the historic elevators that have been in operation since 1914, we got off at the 35th floor for the observatory. When you get off the elevator you enter the China Room, home to the Wishing Chair. Legend has it if an unmarried woman sits in this chair she will be married within a chair. As someone who wasn’t (and still isn’t) in any rush to get married, I steered clear of that chair!
The views from the observation deck were pretty amazing, even on a typical grey day, this city is absolutely beautiful!
The absolute best recommendation we received from the coffee crawl tour guide was a restaurant recommendation. She said we just had to go to Toulouse Petit located in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle and try the beignets. Say no more, if there are beignets, I’m there! The hotel we were staying at was located in the same neighborhood so we headed over there for breakfast the following morning and it exceeded expectations! The beignets were amazing, the coffee was delicious and the service was outstanding. We enjoyed it so much, we headed back there for dinner the following night and dinner was just as amazing as breakfast. I recommended this restaurant to a friend who visited Seattle the following year and her and her husband loved it as well. I will forever recommend this restaurant as one of the best in Seattle to family, friends and travel clients! If you like New Orleans type cuisine, you must check this place out! http://toulousepetit.com/
It’s so great when you go on a tour to try some coffee and you end up learning and experiencing so much more during the rest of your trip due to one tour. A good tour guide can definitely make or break a tour. I feel our tour guide not only made the tour, but also made our trip! If in Seattle, definitely check this tour out! http://seattlebyfoot.com/seattle-walking-tours/seattle-walking-tours-coffee
Do you have any tours that you’ve taken while traveling that stand out to you as some of the best?