For coffee aficionados (or the coffee curious) who want to experience the flavor of the brew itself, Andrews recommends keeping your order basic. “There’s nothing better, to me, than a well-brewed filter coffee,” he says. “If I’m at a café that is very focused on the brewing process, that’s likely what I’ll order.”
The trendiest order in Seattle right now, however, is the cortado, a compact espresso drink with origins in the Basque region of Spain. “It’s a little milkier than a macchiato and a little smaller than a cappuccino,” he says. Still, he prefers a cappuccino for its balanced flavor—and sees it as the test of a truly great barista. “It’s the most technically difficult to execute. The foam should be velvety and smooth, but not stiff and merengue-like. The milk and coffee should be well incorporated,” he explains. “When you get a great one, it’s magical.”
While classic drinks remain touchstones, Seattle menus also offer lots of inventive coffee creations. Ghost Note Coffee, for instance, offers a variety of unique drinks, like their signature Sun Ship (espresso, smoked-grapefruit rosemary syrup, coconut water, and lime) and the seasonal Calypso (espresso, orange juice, pistachio-almond syrup, N/A rum, lime, and bitters).
Creating these kinds of offerings is an exacting process, explains Andrews, who is the café’s coffee director. “If I don’t completely fall in love with a signature drink that I’m working on, I’m not releasing it—even if that means that a drink literally takes years of testing and experimenting before we serve it (which has been the case for a few of our most popular drinks),” he says.