Close to 40 Years, Cafe Allergo Still Ranks High on the Seattle Coffee Scene
by Seattle Coffee Scene.
Much in our lives seems to come and go: Fads. Fashions. Flip phones. And while I can appreciate the wonders of innovation, my heart often rests comfortably on things that last a long while: an old sofa. An old pair of shoes. My three dollar sunglasses.
Of my time spent in Europe, one of the things I enjoyed most was spending time under the shade of centuries-old buildings, some of which survived World Wars, communism, fascism, and the Spice Girls.
In contrast, during my time visiting cities in California and Arizona, I marveled at the impermanence of the buildings, shopping centers, and even friendships.
“Is anything built to last anymore?”
Ah, but then there is coffee – and more specifically, Seattle coffee.
Sure. Humans started out boiling its leaves, fermenting the berry fruit, and then finally keeping the seed, roasting it, grinding it, and finally brewing it. There have been innovations along the way for each of these processes, including moving towards Arabica beans, but for nearly 700 years, coffee has remained the same.
Since the days that Ethiopian Muslim monks used it to stay up late for their prayers, coffee has held up steadfastly in the face of political, spiritual, and economic adversity – and sometimes controversy. It seems so odd now, that society's would imprison and even kill those who drank the “devil's” drink…
Since it was introduced to Europe via North Africa and Turkey, it has survived the banishment and exile by a variety of religions, popes, and kings, including the condemnation of the medical communities throughout the ages. In the 1600’s, French wine producers in cahoots with local doctors and healers declared coffee would cause paralysis and “impotence.”
This was quite a potential threat to the French. Yet, coffee still survived.
This all leads to me to Café Allegro in Seattle’s University District, which has been considered the oldest coffee shop in Seattle for some time. This is a pretty cool distinction for the town that has carved itself out as the Coffee Capitol of the world. Certainly, for UW alumni, Café Allegro is one of those few iconic places that you can liven up a visit to your Alma Mater.
Seattle Coffee in The University District
Tucked in an alley way just steps from Magus Books, Café Allegro marches to its own beat. With ample room upstairs, this place is a local favorite hangout of students, café philosophers, and freelancers alike. Created by Dave Olsen, who later became a Starbucks executive, the spot pretty much looks the same as it did 35 years ago. Allegro is a Seattle coffee shop that you don't want to miss.
Yes, the place could use a fresh coat of paint, but that doesn’t take away from the quality and the charm of the place.
I recently asked the barista if they dally in Coffee Art. “Nah, we don’t do that kind of stuff.”
Ah well, it’s still a great place to get an espresso pulled for you – even after all these years.
Seattle Coffee Scene Location: 4214 University Way Northeast Seattle, WA 98105