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Tuesday, October 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outrageous! Seattle isn’t the best coffee city in the country, says new survey

A barista reaches for a red paper cup as more, with cardboard liners already attached, line the top of an espresso machine at a Starbucks coffee shop in the Pike Place Market in November 2015. (Associated Press)
A barista reaches for a red paper cup as more, with cardboard liners already attached, line the top of an espresso machine at a Starbucks coffee shop in the Pike Place Market in November 2015. (Associated Press)
By Christine Clarridge Seattle Times

Say it isn’t so, Seattle.

A new survey claims that the Emerald City no longer wears the crown when it comes to all things coffee, and some local espresso enthusiasts are biting back.

The Apartment Guide survey on the “best cities for coffee lovers” looked at cities with populations of more than 100,000 and added up the coffee-related businesses and attractions in each city. Here’s how the rankings of the top five shook out:

Berkeley, Calif.: one coffee business for every 2,073 residents

Vancouver, Wash.: one coffee business for every 2,224 residents

San Francisco: one coffee business for every 2,297 residents

Seattle: one coffee business for every 2,308 residents

Portland: one coffee business for every 2,322 residents

Spokane ranked 13th in the survey, one coffee business for every 3,058 residents.

But quality of coffee matters more than quantity, said David Schomer, founder and co-owner of Espresso Vivace, who literally wrote the book on creating latte art. “What’s in the cup is far more important.”

San Francisco, for example, is “embracing a horrible, sour coffee” that’s been roasted too lightly and is full of citric acid, Schomer said.

“It’s the worst possible thing you can do with the roasting machine,” he said.

Everett, Seattle’s northern neighbor, also made the list, at No. 9.

Ross Beamish, head of wholesale accounts for Anchorhead Coffee, said other cities may have more coffee-related businesses, but that will never detract from Seattle’s historical position at the forefront of specialty coffees.

Beamish said that while other cities have certainly embraced specialty grade coffee roasters, with Portland and San Francisco perhaps on par with Seattle, no other city in the world can overshadow Seattle’s historical role.

“A lot is owed to Seattle for its history,” he said. “We are the home of espresso in America with Starbucks and (Espresso) Vivace. The hallmarks of the specialty coffee movement originated here and some of the best coffees in the world came to Seattle first.”

It’s all good, said Scott Callender, vice president for marketing and consumer strategy at La Marzocco, maker of high-end espresso equipment.

“I think we should accept this as a challenge to continually up our coffee game in Seattle,” he said in an emailed statement. “Coffee has become incredibly delicious and diverse all over the world, and acknowledging that should help the Seattle coffee scene continually improve.”

Schomer said Seattle doesn’t need to feel like it’s in competition with those other, more coffee-dense cities.

“If you are the type that needs a critic to tell you what you like, go to San Francisco and drink that acid coffee,” he said. “In Seattle, we have people who make up their own minds.”

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