A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods


Tony’s Coffee celebrates first anniversary in Phinney on Friday

September 30th, 2013 by Doree

Tony’s Coffee Bar is celebrating its first anniversary at 7001 3rd Ave. NW with a party on Friday night. Doors open at 6 p.m. with free food and drinks, and live music by Nu Klezmer Army.

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Herkimer celebrates its 10th anniversary with free coffee on Thursday

May 8th, 2013 by Doree

Herkimer Coffee on the corner of North 74th Street and Greenwood Avenue North is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Thursday by serving a complimentary coffee beverage to everyone all day long.


Photo courtesy of Herkimer Coffee.

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Phinney-Greenwood coffee shops featured in new book, ‘Eclectic Coffee Spots’

December 7th, 2012 by Doree

Several neighborhood coffee shops are featured in Tacoma artist Marsha Glazière’s new book of paintings, photos and words describing 120 coffee spots with character in and around Puget Sound.

“Eclectic Coffee Spots” features Greenwood’s Green Bean Coffeehouse and Couth Buzzard Books Espresso Buono Café, Phinney-Ballard’s Café Bambino,  Lighthouse Roasters in South Phinney/Upper Fremont, and the former Cowgirls Espresso in Greenwood.

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Tony’s Coffee Bar celebrates grand opening Friday

November 27th, 2012 by Doree

Tony’s Coffee Bar has been open at 7001 3rd Avenue NW for several months, but it will finally celebrate with a grand opening party from 7-10 p.m. Friday.

Tony’s Coffees & Teas is a Bellingham-based company. It opened its coffee “lab” here last spring, then expanded into a full coffee bar late this summer. It just added pastries to the menu: cookies, coconut bread and muffins.

Friday’s party will feature refreshments, and readings from local writers Len Kuntz, Patrick McKay, Ross McMeekin and Robert Kaye. Customers can also get a free shot of espresso all day long.

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Tony’s Coffee Lab expands to a coffee bar

August 28th, 2012 by Doree

Tony’s Coffees & Teas, which installed a lab and training space at the corner of NW 70th Street and 3rd Avenue NW back in the spring,has now expanded to a full coffee bar. This is the Bellingham-based coffee company’s first coffee shop in Seattle.

Scene from a recent “cupping” at Tony’s Coffee Bar. Photo courtesy of Tony’s.

For now, Tony’s Coffee Bar, at 7001 NW 3rd Ave., is open from 7-10 a.m. Monday through Friday. After Labor Day they plan to expand their hours and be open on Saturdays.

Our menu will feature 4-5 rotating, single-origin, seasonal selections. We also have a rotating house coffee for those that are looking for a comfortable cup of drip. All of our coffees are brewed fresh to order using three manual brew methods – Aeropress, Clever Dripper and Chemex – as well as the fully-automated Trifecta brewer. We are happy to suggest our favorite brew method to first time customers. For those looking for a quick cup to-go, we are serving straight shots and Americanos made from our award-winning espresso blend. For tea drinkers in the neighborhood, we have a variety of organic, whole leaf offerings from local tea-maker, Choice Organics.

In addition to brewing delicious coffee, we are also selling whole bean by the bag and an assortment of brewing gear, including cones, filters, kettles and grinders. Customers get a free cup with a whole bean or brewing gear purchase. We will continue to host cuppings Fridays at noon that are still free & open to the public. We’re also excited to offer home brewing classes as well as other educational events in the near future. Our hope is to show customers how to brew great coffee at home while providing a space to explore all the possibilities coffee has to offer.

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Tony’s Coffee Lab having neighborhood party with food, beer and coffee-themed cocktails on Friday

June 3rd, 2012 by Doree

Tony’s Coffees & Teas, the Bellingham-based company that recently opened a staff training center at NW 70th Street and 3rd Avenue NW (called Tony’s Coffee Lab), is hosting a party for neighbors on Friday, starting at 5 p.m. (This is in addition to Friday’s weekly coffee cupping at 12 p.m.)

Friday’s party will feature appetizers, beer from Fremont Brewing Co., and coffee-themed cocktails. Tony’s staff will brew coffee on a variety of its brewing devices throughout the night for people to sample.

This is an informal affair and everyone is welcome. Anyone who is curious about what we do in the space is free to drop in for a drink and say hello. A number of our employees from Bellingham will be coming down to celebrate our first three months in the neighborhood.

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Sam’s Espresso inside Fred Meyer looking for new location in Greenwood

January 9th, 2012 by Doree

Sam’s Espresso, which has been located just inside the front door of the Greenwood Fred Meyer since 1988, is looking for a new spot when Fred Meyer closes next month for extensive remodeling.

Salam Ballout, who started Sam’s Espresso in 1988 and gave it to his brother Sam to run, told me today that when Fred Meyer reopens in the late fall, it will be with a Starbucks, not Sam’s. So Sam and Salam are looking for a new spot in Greenwood where they can serve up their low-priced espresso and famous hot dogs.

Salam also owned a Sam’s Espresso inside the Fred Meyer at Aurora Avenue North and North 185th Street from 1993-2000, before it was replaced by a Starbucks. Another Sam’s Espresso is currently located inside the Lake City Way Fred Meyer.

Salam said the brothers will miss their regular clientele, so they hope to find a new location quickly. They’re working with real estate agents to find something, but so far they haven’t found a spot with parking or reasonable rent.

Sam’s is well-known for its $2 mocha and the scent of hot dogs as you walk through Fred Meyer’s front door. Salam said the business has some customers who’ve been with them since the beginning, including a woman whose mother was a customer when she was pregnant with her, and who now brings her own 3-year-old to the cart for hot dogs and treats.

Salam Ballout and his brother Sam serve up low-priced coffee, hot dogs, cookies, bagels, granitas and other treats just inside Fred Meyer’s front door.

“We have people come from Redmond, Kirkland, Snoqualmie,” Salam said. “They used to live here and they come back once a month just to have our hot dogs.”

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Caffe Vita to donate proceeds from Friday grand opening to PNA

February 17th, 2011 by Doree

Caffe Vita opened its doors at 7402 Greenwood Ave. N. last Friday for its “soft” opening. Now, its grand opening is set for tomorrow, and the coffee shop plans to donate all proceeds from the day to the Phinney Neighborhood Association.

From the press release:

One-hundred percent of proceeds from all purchases made Friday will be donated to the Phinney Neighborhood Association and Center. Come have a Vita coffee, meet new neighbors, and help us support your local community.

Caffe Vita is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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Caffe Vita opens on Phinney Ridge

February 14th, 2011 by Doree

Caffe Vita opened at 7402 Greenwood Ave. N. on Friday.

At 4 p.m. Monday, a steady stream of customers came and went. The coffee shop also sells doughnuts, croissants, pizza, granola, cookies, Theo chocolate bars, juices, Dry Soda, loose leaf tea, travel mugs, and French press coffee makers.

It also serves coffee made with the Japanese cold brew system called “Oji.” Water very slowly drips from the top containers onto the grounds in the center, at about 43 drips per minute. It takes six to eight hours to brew one full batch. It is then served over ice. The resulting coffee is supposed to be less acidic and more dessertlike. Ross, seen in the photo below, described it as “almost like whiskey.”

Caffe Vita is also planning to open a cafe next door, but it is still under construction.

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Caffe Vita opening later this month

January 7th, 2011 by Doree

The new Caffe Vita at 7402 Greenwood Ave. N. hopes to open by the end of this month.

The original plan to have a pizza oven has changed; the cafe will now sell individual pizzas made at the Via Tribunali commissary in Georgetown. Caffe Vita also recently applied for a liquor license to sell beer and wine.

Update: A Caffe Vita representative sent us this note on Jan. 10:

“First and foremost we are very excited to become a part of the Phinney Ridge neighborhood. We look forward to serving excellent coffee to, and supporting, this vibrant community. As you might imagine, opening a new business can be a logistical adventure. We’re striving to be open by the end of the month.”

Thanks to Eric for the photo!

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Comeback Couth Buzzard celebrates 1-year anniversary

December 20th, 2010 by Tyler Steele

When the Couth Buzzard book store closed in September of 2008 after 20 years as a Phinney Ridge fixture, no one could have foreseen its comeback the following year. Couth Buzzard Books Espresso Buono Café re-opened at 8310 Greenwood Ave. N. just before Christmas last year, and last Saturday, it celebrated its one-year anniversary.

“We survived and thrived in a bad economy with a used book store and a café,” co-owner Theo Dzielak, 59, said from the back of the store on Saturday. As blue grass duo Pickled Okra performed “pickled” Christmas songs in the front, he added, “It’s our first-year anniversary, and we’re celebrating.”

“Our music — well, we throw songs into the pickle jar for a while, and they come out a little different,” performer Todd Gray said in between sets with wife and band mate Paisley Gray. With a laugh, the Greenwood couple added, “It’s an acquired taste.”

Performances from children’s music to blue grass went all day during the anniversary celebration. For the evening, Spanish wine tasting and a free concert were scheduled with performers Stew Hendrickson, Pint and Dale and headliner Jim Page.

Dzielak, a former store manager at the original Couth Buzzard, re-opened with original owner Gerry Lovchik, 73, and café owner Penny Wight, 59, on Dec. 15, 2009.

“We wanted to re-open, but not without a café person,” he said in reference to a conversation he had with Lovchik when the two were looking for a new location. “This was a no-go unless we could find a coffee person.”

He gestured to Wight and then explained her expertise as one of the main components to the store’s recent success.

“We couldn’t have made it as just a used book store,” he admitted. Wight, already a coffee shop owner in Lynnwood, had the “perfect” background to help the new store survive.

“Between the three of us, we have decades and decades of experience,” Wight said as she typed on her laptop next to Dzielak. “We were able to survive by becoming part of the community.”

She said the new store has “added events where people can show off their talents in a comfortable way — the kind of place where everyone is welcome.”

Aside from the café, which serves local beer and wine, the new store is still centered on using trade as a way to build value in their product and help customers feel a sense of ownership.

Dzielak said customers bring in used books for trade, are assigned store credit, and then use it towards the purchase of other books in the future. Customers can only use store credit to pay for 50 percent of the price of each item; the rest is out of pocket.

Customer records are kept in an old notebook — in a “trade log like the old days,” Dzielak said. “We’re kind of like a recycling center that way,” he added. “This system was started in the late 1960s and early 70’s in San Francisco.”

“But we’re a cleaned-up and amped-up version of the old one,” Wight explained. “I think it’s a stroke of genius.”

Long-time customer Rich Levinski, 42, said, “They give you more value than other local book stores, and a better deal in the long run.”

“And our baristas are so kind and considerate,” Wight said as she got up to relocate moveable book shelves to make room for the evening concert. “They make homemade baked goods and soups — the whole nine yards.”

“Our café is just fun, and we have the freedom to experiment and make things,” barista and cook Jason Studstill, 26, said as he took a tray of brownies out of the oven. “We are surrounded by eccentric artists, and that carries over into our work.”

“The reason this place is becoming a draw is because it has a nostalgic twinge,” artist Brian Prosser said as he sketched the ongoing blue grass performance. “People come in here every day and are excited that their old book store is back.”

“Opening up a business is almost like having a child all over again,” Dzielak said. “All these crises and decisions come up every day, and you’re counting the days until it goes off to kindergarten and you can finally take a breather.”

“Now that we have a system going,” Wight said, “we won’t have to work 80 hours a week to keep it going.”

Tyler Steele is PhinneyWood’s intern. He is a journalism student at the University of Washington.

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Wayward Coffee still closed, sets up donation fund

December 7th, 2010 by Doree

Wayward Coffeehouse at 8570 Greenwood Ave. N. is still closed after the accidental Nov. 22 fire at neighboring Rite Zone discount store caused water and smoke damage. Wayward staff members are still assessing the damage and don’t have a reopening date. They have set up the online “Wayward Phoenix Fund,” with the help of Seattle Browncoats Charities.

From their latest email update to supporters:

We are doing everything we can to get Wayward Coffeehouse reopened as soon as possible but there are still many challenges to overcome. Some of those things are beyond our control and we are anxiously waiting for those issues to be resolved. Your donations will help us during the closure and with all we have to do to reopen.

One of the hardest parts of being shut down by the fire is not being able to see all of you each day. We miss you all!

We are very grateful for the support and assistance of Seattle Browncoats Charities for making donations to the Wayward Phoenix Fund possible. Wayward has been the coffee haven of the Seattle Browncoats since we opened our doors over 5 years ago (a “Browncoat” is a fan of the sci-fi show Firefly and its follow-up film Serenity). As Browncoats ourselves, we are especially heartened by their ongoing support of Wayward Coffeehouse. There’s a reason we’re proud to be the geek coffeehouse and home to all the fandom, social, gaming, writing, charity, etc. groups that share our love of sci-fi/fantasy and all things geeky! Your support makes us mighty!

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