on Broadway next to Washington Mutual
While it's true that coffee in Seattle has become a lifestyle, some of us have been appreciators (i.e., chemically dependent) for longer than the ages of the city's most popular baristas. Some of us have, if not carefully studied the subject, at least sampled brews from the heights to the depths of cultural and sociological perspective. Among the hundreds of purveyors, one spot emerges as having the best espresso and assorted concoctions, the best atmosphere, the most engaging baristas, and possibly the most truthful, ascerbic commentary at any given moment in the city. One wonders if an affinity for persiflage is as much a job essential at Vivace as the delicate muscularity required for drawing the perfect espresso, artfully foaming the creamy milk, all with nonstop, elegant efficiency.
We have our favorites, both of coffee and barista. The macchiato; the tall, skinny quad, half blasphemous decaf, half full strength; the ubiquitous latte but with a dash of vanilla --delightful. Amy, Lisa, Stephanie, Mitch, Mark, Katy, the outrageous Brian whose eyes belie a more sensitive nature than his often barbed and always definite pronouncements might lead us to believe. The talents of the baristas are prodigious: the wit, the playwright, the artist, the unicyclist, the dancer, etc., etc., etc.
Vivace was started by David Schomer, "The Willie Wonka of Coffee" according to one devoted employee. All singles at Vivace are doubles, and all shots are ristretto which gives a concentrated, smaller, but sweeter shot, representing indeed a completely different coffee approach to creating fine espresso.
Loyalty, cynicism, conceit, diffidence, exuberance, despair, hilarity, the mainstream, the eccentric, babies, and dogs are all at various moments present both within and without the small structure that sits between the Washington Mutual bank parking lot and Hair Connection. Vivace has a larger establishment, indeed a roasteria, down the street at 901 East Denny, but I do not know it yet. For now, the crowded little counter is all I need--and "need" is what it is --a daily dose of that perfect trinity: Caffeine, TruthandBeauty, the Profane.
lagniappe: In the small, unobtrusive corridor to the right of Vivace and embedded for eternity in the wall is a shrine to the Goddess Caffeina, patron saint of all of us. Not to be missed -- a work of art and a spiritual encounter.
Twelfth Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98102 USA
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