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Three Formidable Coffee Stops Around Rainier Avenue

When in South Seattle, hit up these spots for maximum caffeine enjoyment.
The Coffee Diaries

It doesn’t really matter where you are in Seattle—you’ll have few problems tracking down a quality coffee spot in any neighborhood. For the South End, we have a handful in our rotation on which we can put our proverbial stamp of approval. Here are three of them:

Caffe Vita

Coffee drink

This Seattle mainstay has been around since ‘95 with seven in-town locations, as well as two in New York, and one in Phoenix. Quite the feat for a business known for short lifespans.

My go-to drink is the Sevilla, a dark-chocolate mocha poured over an orange peel. It has a bit of an acquired taste—the palate is bitter—but it is a good sipping coffee. And, you can’t go wrong with stand-bys like cappuccinos and Americanos.

To up its Seattleness, Vita has also entered a partnership with KEXP, the storied local radio station. Two dollars from each bag of the KEXP Blend go to “Keep Music Live” with all donations matched by the roaster.

Vita is located all over Seattle, and their coffee can be found in a range of partner shops. We visited 5028 Wilson Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118 in Seward.

Olympia Coffee

Coffee shop counter

Named for its hometown, Olympia Coffee currently has three Seattle locations including one in Columbia City.

This was our go-to spot while living in Olympia, and even now, in Seattle, it is a regular stop in our rotation. It is probably the beans we use most often at home, too.

The Rainier Avenue shop mixes an old-meets-new ambiance: Worn hex tiles on the floor with clean Scandi-whites and light wood is speckled throughout. The building has a good energy.

I usually go for one of the classic drinks, like a cappuccino, though there are always more creative specials to pick from. Either way, you can’t go wrong: Olympia Coffee respects its product.

Find them on 4824 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118 or at one of their other spots in Olympia, Seattle, and Tacoma.

Empire Roasters & Records

Fair: A record store inside a coffee shop isn’t a novel concept, but it still adds to the vibe. Plus, Empire Records was a good movie.

Empire Roasters is located right across the street from Olympia in Columbia City, creating the luxury problem of having two great cafés within close proximity. So, mix it up between the two: Empire’s quality is right on the Seattle baseline—which is high.

An arcade cabinet with 3,000 classic games on the third floor makes the spot a place even for those who don’t like coffee. Good music and video games should cover a lot of bases.

Hit Empire up on 3829 S Edmunds St, Seattle, WA 98118 and make it a twofer alongside Olympia.