Milstead & Co., in Seattle’s Fremont district, is tucked away almost directly under the Aurora Bridge, which vaults far overhead across the Fremont Cut. It was recommended to me by several people, including no lesser an authority than Slate. Fortunately I was staying, completely coincidently, about a 15-minute walk away along Highway 99. Having bemoaned the fact that I hadn’t found many multi-roaster coffee shops in America (Boston’s Render Coffee being a rare exception to this rule), I suddenly seemed to be falling over them in Portland (Either/Or) and Seattle (Street Bean), with Milstead being the latest example.
Milstead & Co. offers two options on espresso (while I was there, a single-origin and a blend) and three single-origins on Aeropress (no bulk-brew filter here!). The drink types/sizes are fairly standard, although no-one was phased when I ordered a decaf cortado (which wasn’t on the menu). Like Portland’s Either/Or, Milstead rotates the coffee as and when it runs out, usually putting on two 5lb bags at a time. To give you an example, while I was there, one of two espresso options (the one I had!) ran out and was replaced by a single-origin Guatemalan that was also on the filter menu.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Milstead & Co. has a rather unprepossessing exterior, built back into the slope by the Aurora Bridge. A recessed door leads into a similarly modest interior with a simple layout. Long, wide and with high ceilings, it’s a surprisingly bright space, helped by south-facing floor-to-ceiling windows. However, it’s not too bright, the tree-lined street coming to the rescue, providing much-needed shade in the summer. There’s also a door and window in the right-hand wall at the back, providing much-needed natural light to the rear.
Milstead is split into two, the counter and retail shelves on the left, the seating on the right. The only exception to this is at the front. The recessed door forms two lovely bay windows, one either side, each equipped with a three-seat (stool?) window-bar.
A roped-off section directs you to the front of the counter, where you order. There are two paper menus, plus another pair listing what beans are currently on. The two espresso grinders are also here, the labels from the beans helpfully placed inside each hopper. To your left are retail shelves, holding a wide range of beans from various roasters, not just those currently being served. If you’re feeling hungry, there’s also a very generous array of cakes and pastries to tempt you.
Having ordered, follow the counter around the corner, past the La Marzocco Strada espresso machine, where you’ll find the till. Here you can pay and collect your coffee. If you have to do counter service (which you don’t, by the way) this is the way to do it: pay where you collect, not where you order. Beyond this, in a dip in the counter, are three Aeropresses, which make all the filter coffee. You can stand here and watch your (filter) coffee being made if you like.
Opposite the counter, there are two rows of low tables, followed by three six-person high tables, all parallel to the window. Next there’s a big space (for the door at the back) followed by a low, six-person table right at the back. The door, by the way, leads out to a communal outdoor space (shared with the adjacent museum, the History House), where you can sit at one of the many sheltered tables, almost under the bridge itself.
Milstead has two options on espresso and three on filter. While I was there, one of the espressos was from Bows & Arrows, who are from across the water in Victoria, Canada. I felt obliged to try it, even though it was a single-origin Kenyan. My worst fears were realised: it was bright, fruity and entirely not to my liking, making me pull all sorts of faces! The other option, from San Francisco’s Supersonic, was its Concord blend, a mix of Ethiopian & Colombian beans.
I returned to try a filter, with a choice of three single-origins: a Kenyan from Portland’s Heart, a Colombian from Supersonic and my choice, a Guatemalan from local Kuma Coffee. Although I enjoyed it, I expected it to have a little more body, However, it evolved pleasingly as it cooled and was, for a Guatemalan, surprisingly fruity.
Finally, I just had to try a cake, opting for a cinnamon twist. With lovely, soft dough and glazed with cinnamon icing, it was sweet without being either sickly or sticky.
|770 NORTH 34TH STREET • SEATTLE • WA 98103 • USA|
|Monday||06:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Guests (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||06:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Window Bar, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||06:00 – 18:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||06:00 – 18:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||06:00 – 18:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||07:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||07:00 – 18:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||20th June 2015|
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