Victrola Roastery & Café

The Victrola Coffee Roasters logo, showing a black-and-white line drawing of the 1920s phonograph after which Victrola is named.Victrola Coffee Roasters is a local chain of three Seattle cafés, with this, its second outlet, doubling as both roastery (to the left) and café (centre and right). Occupying a gorgeous, spacious and bright 1920s building on the steeply-sloping East Pike Street, it’s a lovely spot, just a block away from the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. I know where I’d rather be.

Victrola has been going since 2000 and roasting since 2003. In 2007, the roastery and café opened and since then all Victrola’s coffee has been roasted here. Just as the café is a bright, airy space, so is the roastery, separated from the café by tall windows which run all the way to the back.

Victrola offers a house-blend (Streamline) on espresso, plus decaf and a single-origin which changes every month or so. There are two single-origins on pour-over, which change every few months, available through the V60. There’s also a cafetiere option, but no bulk-brew. The full range of beans are for sale from the retail shelves at the back.

There’s also a selection of soft drinks and a limited range of beer. If you’re hungry, there’s a decent selection of sandwiches, salads and cake.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Victrola Coffee Roasters' roastery & cafe on Seattle's East Pike Street.
  • The cafe is in the middle and on the right, while the roastery is on the left.
  • The rise of pour-over coffee in Seattle.
  • However, it's not just coffee that's on offer.
  • Inside it's a lovely, bright, uncluttered space.
  • There's plenty of seating, including this, over to the left by the roastery...
  • ... and this, on the right between the counter and the window.
  • The view from the back.
  • Right in the middle is this lovely communal table.
  • Another view of the seating on the left.
  • If you just want a table for two, there are plenty of these on the right.
  • There's also a window-bar if you want to watch the world going by.
  • Another view of the communal table, looking towards the roastery.
  • Finally, right at the back, there's this row of two-person tables with views of the roastery.
  • The roaster itself is behind these windows (easier to see than photograph!).
  • This is the Victrola logo by the way: the company's named after a 1920s phonograph.
  • Looking through the logo, you can see Victrola training room.
  • Back in the main room, one of Victrola's lovely light fittings.
  • Mind you, there's plenty of natural light too, including from this skylight.
  • There's also plenty of artwork adorning the walls.
  • The large counter is at the back on the right.
  • There are retail shelves in the front of the counter, selling merchandising and coffee-kit.
  • There's more at the back where you can find the coffee beans too.
  • Hungry? There's a well-stocked fridge. And that not-coffee stuff the A-board mentioned.
  • The menu is a lovely affair on the wall behind the counter.
  • It has the pour-over options and the single-origin espresso chalked up.
  • The coffee-end of the counter...
  • The espresso grinders are over on the left: house, single-origin and decaf...
  • ... while the pour-over grinders are on the right...
  • ... along with the V60 set-up.
  • Just for good measure, there's also an EK-43 at the back!
  • In the absence of a flat white, I had a (traditional) cappuccino.
  • Great milk, holding the pattern all the way to the bottom of the cup.
  • Victrola also does food (uncommon for American coffee shops). I had this lovely sandwich...
  • ... as well as this excellent salad.
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The Victrola Roastery & Café is north and east of downtown Seattle, just east of the junction between East Pike Street and Pike Street proper, which crosses over I5 before heading down to Pike Place Market, right at the bottom of the street. The roastery/café occupies a large, single-storey building with high ceilings and a large, glass street front, slightly set-back from the pavement, leaving a small, sheltered area where a handful of chairs are laid out.

To the left, a roll-over glass door provides access to the roastery, while in the centre, there’s a pair of doors, separated by a window. Stepping inside, you’re greeted with a large, uncluttered space with a 10-person communal table in the centre. To the left, a line of windows separate the café from the roastery, a long, padded bench running along beneath the windows. There are a couple of two-person tables here, plus two larger ones. On the right, there’s a bar in the window, with a shorter padded bench running along the exposed-brick wall, lined with two-person tables.

Beyond the bench, the counter, constructed of dark wood, takes up the back-half of the wall. The Synesso espresso, at a 45 degree angle, is to the fore, grinders to either side. Beyond this comes the pour-over station, till and cake, with a fridge for the sandwiches/salads at the back. There are retail shelves on the front of the counter and on the back wall. Beyond this, the café narrows, leaving space on the right for training and cupping rooms. A central corridor runs back between the rooms on the right and the roastery on the left, where there’s also a line of three two-person tables.

My US coffee experience has predominantly been on the east coast, in cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC. Over there, bulk-brew predominates when it comes to filter coffee, although individual hand-brewed filter is rapidly gaining popularity. Confusingly, the term “pour-over”, so common in the UK, isn’t used on the east coast, where I’m often met with confused looks until I remember to say “hand-pour” instead. Fortunately, if my limited experience in Seattle/Portland is representative, it’s going strong on the west coast, where, to my relief, it’s also known as pour-over. In fact, the majority of coffee shops I visited didn’t even offer bulk-brew.

While I’d have liked to try both of Victrola’s pour-over offerings (and its single-origin espresso), it was the end of a very long, highly-caffeinated day, so I went for a decaf cappuccino, served in a classic white cup with a glass of water as standard. This was very smooth and strong, with a hint of bitterness towards the end, which I liked. The coffee combined well with the milk, which was beautifully-steamed, holding its pattern right to the bottom of the cup.

One thing that both coasts have in common is that few US speciality coffee shops do much food. Fortunately for me (since I was starving), Victrola bucks this trend. I had a toasted breakfast sandwich which I devoured without much consideration for taste or anything else, followed by an Orzo and Feta salad with olives, spinach, peppers and red onion. I ate this at a more considered pace and am pleased to report that it was extremely tasty indeed.

310 EAST PIKE STREET • SEATTLE • WA 98122 • USA
www.victrolacoffee.com +1 206-624-1725
Monday 06:30 – 20:00 Roaster Victrola (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 06:30 – 20:00 Seating Tables, Window Bar, Chairs (outside)
Wednesday 06:30 – 20:00 Food Sandwiches, Salads, Cake
Thursday 06:30 – 20:00 Service Counter
Friday 06:30 – 20:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 07:30 – 20:00 Wifi Free
Sunday 07:30 – 20:00 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 19th June 2015

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