I first heard of Portland-based Stumptown a few years ago when they had a booth at the North West Chocolate Festival near the Key Arena.
Naturally, I spent some time at their booth and took in their samples of various brews. I was impressed. So, with little fanfare I stopped in their Capitol Hill location just a block west of the Seattle Central Community College.
They have a small storefront that is conveniently located for SCC students and #10, #11, & #49 bus riders off of Pine and Broadway. It is, I imagine, a convenient place to pick up a quick coffee on your way to class or while waiting for a bus transfer.
I ordered a short Americano, which turned out to be quite average. Stumptown was strange, while all the ingredients seemed perfect and in-place to be a great coffee shop, something was off here – something was lacking.
Though the furniture was new, the place was clean, and they had the music volume turned up, the place was lacking in warmth and character. Their posh tables, seats and cookie cutter art didn’t do much for me. Stumptown has made their roasted coffee good enough to compete with any other roaster in town, but I found their vibe pretty corporate and rather sterile. There was simply no sense of community here. I imagined that if I were to scratch beneath the surface I would find a roaster who secretly wanted to be another mega-coffee company like Starbucks (which I suppose is okay) if that is what you want to achieve.
The short Americano was decent but, a little bit on the metallic-acidic side, which I don’t really enjoy. Yes, I know, some people like their coffee bitter and acidic but not me.
They offer a few select muffins and pastries which looked pretty tasty.
The bearded baristas were friendly enough but slightly Diva-ish and too caught up texting as fast as junior high kids on a school bus. Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed this time around with the ambiance, the service, or the coffee. While they have a bit of potential on the national coffee scene, I hope their business plan isn't to simply offer mediocre service, blast metal-industrial rock, hire pretentious tatted baristas that glow with the message, “you must like our coffee because we're cool.”
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Location: 616 E Pine St
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill