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National coffee day: Three Tacoma coffee houses/roasters to try

Post by Sue Kidd / The News Tribune on Sep. 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm | No Comments »
October 4, 2011 4:00 pm
Leaf decorations in a latte don't cost extra at Metronome. I like the coffee geekery at the Sixth Avenue coffee house.

Today is national coffee day. You may be one of the masses enjoying your free cup of 7-11 joe, but here are three Tacoma roasters/coffee houses who deserve your patronage: Bluebeard Coffee, Metronome and Valhalla — all coffee houses in the neighborhood I like to call Jittery Lane. Click “more” to read about my three favorite coffee houses on Sixth Avenue.

Jeremy Baxter brews a siphon using Esmeralda coffee beans from Panama at Metronome Coffee in Tacoma. The siphon brew gives a balance cup of coffee from bold to light coffee beans. Photo by Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer

Metronome Coffee
Where: 3518 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
Info: 253-301-2375 or www.metronomecoffee.com

If you’re someone who appreciates the nuance of bean origin and brew technique and who enjoys the full-frontal palate assault of rich, dark coffee, then Metronome, which opened in January, is worth a visit. Metronome resides in a neighborhood filled with good coffee, including Valhalla and Bluebeard (both featured below), as well as Caffe Dei, the arty coffee house that specializes in well-pulled specialty espressos and vegan eats, Shakabrah, the downscale coffee cafe that serves good Joe and heaping breakfast plates, and Satellite Coffee, the tiny offshoot coffee stop located inside Masa.

A cinnamon roll from Corina Bakery, found at Metronome.

Metronome’s mood clearly meanders into the Land of Big Coffee Geek. At this coffee house, the theater is in preparation, method, flavor and origin.  The coffee vernacular includes a whiff of science class: Barometric pressure brewing, gold-mesh screen filtering, pressure power agitation, positive acidity, ceramic funnels. The coffee house is a flurry of machines. There’s the yama brewer, the chemex, the siphon brewer. And here’s something I love beyond the excellent selection of beans from Dillanos: pastries from Corina Bakery. Check out the cinnamon roll I ate there a few weeks ago. Isn’t it pretty?

Bluebeard Coffee Roasters
Where: 2201 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
Facebook: Here

Bluebeard Coffee Roasters opened in April and quickly became my place for a perfectly poured Americano with plenty of comfortable seating. Bluebeard is both a coffee roaster and espresso puller.

Like every coffee house on Sixth, Bluebeard exudes its own vibe, but it has overlapping qualities with nearby coffee kin. Bluebeard has the bare bones austerity of Valhalla, the coffee geek of Metronome and the hipster-ish vibe of Satellite. The one thing Bluebeard has that other Sixth Avenue coffee houses seem to lack is a well-organized space. The table area is expansive with well-spaced chairs and a few comfy couches. Big groups are not a problem.

Bluebeard also is a coffee roaster. I have spotted beans from El Salvador, Ethiopia and Indonesia. A pastry case offers a small selection of nibbles, both savory and sweet.

Valhalla Coffee
Where: 3918 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
Contact: 253-761-5116 or www.valhallacoffee.net

This is more coffee roaster than sit-and-sip coffeehouse. A few seats offer a view of the coffee action. Coffee geeks in search of technical descriptions and home brewing advice should head immediately to Valhalla.

If you recognize the coffeehouse’s name, it might be because it formerly operated inside Mandolin Café on Twelfth. The coffee menu is low-tech, but perfectly executed.

I can blame my addiction to Ethiopian coffee on Valhalla. Buy a bag of Valhalla’s Ethiopian Harar. It could change the entire tone of your mornings, it’s that delicious.

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