The Cafe Project: Empire Espresso

It’s been far too long since the last installment of The Cafe Project. When I started this adventure, I had meant it to be a weekly occurrence. It was only life that got in the way, and I haven’t had the time to go out, to find a new spot, and to write.

Empire Espresso in Columbia City

Since this project is also partly about transit, I wanted to take light rail farther south than the International District. Since I haven’t been traveling as much, my trips south of the free-ride zone have been limited to SODO or to catch a Mariners game. I really needed to get out more.

Which is what brings me to Empire Espresso in Columbia City. It’s worth the train ride. It’s a small space, but even on a cloudy Wednesday afternoon it’s lively with people chatting, sipping lattes, and working on a wide variety of laptops. There’s soccer on the television and jazz on the stereo. The spinach and feta panini I had for lunch hit the spot, and the espresso is great, served with a normal pull rather than the common ristretto pull. Best of all, there’s table service! It’s a proper café straight out of the European mold.

It’s something that’s sorely lacking in Capitol Hill, where the cafés tend to be the Starbucks model of waiting in line for your drink and paying up front. (While I love Café Presse, it’s geared more toward a meal or drinks destination than a coffee destination.)

This is a great place to know. It makes me remember why I started this project in the first place.

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