Empire Espresso – Columbia City, Seattle, WA

Cost: $15 for food and latte
What to Wear: Stretchy jeans, a loose sweater and a big pair of hoop earrings. You know, gentrification, but *a part of it*.
Guilt Element: Good lattes that can rival a cup of black.
Soundtrack: Muffled hipster shit in the background and Childish Gambino on the headphones.

Restroom: Gender neutral. Clean, cute actually with community posts.

I love posting up in coffee shops, but like many coffee shop writers I usually have to make the decision between good food or good coffee. No one can survive a writing day on pastries and good coffee and life is too short for bad coffee. Empire doesn’t force me to make such decisions. I had the Cayenne Mocha which creates an unexpected kick at the back of the throat. It’s a delicious mocha meaning good chocolate, not too sweet, and you can taste the espresso. And that is what I dig about this place, they are very good about their coffee, and quite serious about it too. I could get away with having a drip coffee and have quite a delicious experience. Empire has drips, espresso and some other format of coffee every day and they rotate the beans used for each method. Usually there is a Colombian and an Ethiopian as options.

This place could make a killing on their pressed sandwiches alone. They have a happy hour with $2.50 grilled cheeses, beer and wine. I had the Vegan Panini my first time here, which featured a Field Roast breakfast sausage, house-made basil pesto, tomato, vegan cheese. On my next trip, my adulterous pescatarian sensibilities were tested and I got the waffle sandwich, missing the glaring inclusion of ham in the fried egg and provolone cheese stack folded inside a freshly made waffle. This time I made an obnoxious request to have the two sandwiches fused replacing the ham with Seattle’s own Field Roast. The sandwich comes with a side of pure maple syrup to dip like au jus. After the waffle sandwich is stacked, it is pressed like panini so the provolone oozes out and creates a gooey delicious mess. Hella decadent. They do have yummy pastries including muffins, scones, and donuts.

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The Menu

As work spaces go, Empire Espresso is good. It’s a small space, and I’ve come on an average Seattle (read rainy with a slight chill) day so the back patio seating isn’t particularly inviting. The length of the narrow cafe has 10 small two person seats that have ample outlets beneath the bench seats for laptop power. There is a larger six person communal table next to the single stall gender-neutral bathroom. The music can be a little loud, but with the right barista on deck, it could be music worth jamming to if you’ve forgotten to bring your earbuds. You’re likely to see writers, students, and community organizers in the area stopping for meetings, first dates, and third space work time. Like any good coffee shop in Seattle, it thrives a block from a fairly large Starbucks with triple the size, the same amount of space and not nearly as good a cup of coffee or food.

And do you see this stoneware? Love.
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Empire’s signature stoneware.

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