Ugly Mug Café
Don’t let this coffee shop’s name mislead you. Ugly Mug is anything but. The cushioned couches, string lights, and vintage-chic decor makes this out-of-the-way coffee shop the coziest cafe in the U-District. An energizing and quiet atmosphere makes it a great place to recharge when class has got you down. With all the atmosphere and comfort of your grandmother’s living room, and the specialty drinks and treats of your hometown’s Starbucks, Ugly Mug is a great midday pit stop or post-class study spot. If you’re a chocolate fan, make sure to order the Mexican mocha, and if you’re hungry, you can never go wrong with the freshly-made grilled cheese. One of Ugly Mug’s greatest drawbacks is also its greatest strength — the cozy atmosphere feels homey, but leaves little room for studying with friends or meeting study groups during rush hour. This is one trip that might be best done alone, or at least not during peak business hours.
Chances are, if you don’t end up here on your own, someone else will take you. Arguably the Ave’s hippest coffee spot, Allegro features some of the best brew in the U-District, with plenty of space to spread out and work with study groups or friends. They serve a wide selection of freshly made breakfast pastries and specialty drinks, all sure not to disappoint. One of the oldest coffee shops in Seattle, Allegro has a history as rich as its coffee. The staff is friendly and personable, and if you decide to become a regular patron of Allegro, you’ll likely find yourself spotting familiar faces during your daily coffee break. Although Allegro boasts plenty of seating, with two large sitting rooms and a rooftop dining area, this also means it can get pretty loud during peak hours. If you enjoy the bustling coffee shop chatter of clinking dishware and espresso machines as the backdrop to your studies, then you’ll certainly have no issue here. However, if you prefer silence or drowning out the sounds of your environment while studying, you may be frustrated with Allegro’s busy background noise.
Slate Coffee Roasters
If you prefer your coffee shops industrial, sparse, and minimalistic, then Slate may be the place for you. More spacious than Ugly Mug and with fewer distractions than Allegro, Slate is exactly what its name implies — a blank slate. The cafe doesn’t boast quite as large a variety of drinks and snacks as other coffee shops on the Ave, but many loyal patrons enjoy their artisanal brew. While Slate may not have the largest variety of specialty drinks, they do have a wide variety of blends for the coffee minimalist. It also features two levels of seating with a chic upper balcony that’s perfect for studying or chatting. Because it’s newer than other coffee shops on the Ave, it’s usually less crowded, making it an ideal spot to go during peak hours.
Café Solstice is conveniently located a short walk from West Campus, and is one of the most laid-back coffee shops on the Ave. With a wide variety of food and drinks — both coffee and tea — and tables for large groups, individuals, or couples, Café Solstice has something for everyone. It’s also a great place to get a taste of Seattle’s music culture. The wide-open storefront includes a stage where you can occasionally catch local talent or even open mics sponsored by student organizations. Solstice is a great place to kick back or hunker down, without the intimidating sense of superiority other, more craft-focused, coffee shops may give off.
Whichever café you choose to make your second home, Seattle’s coffee scene is sure to not disappoint. Enjoy your caffeine while basking in the knowledge that you’re helping contribute to a local business rather than a super-mega-corporation (cough—Starbucks—cough).
Reach Arts & Leisure Editor Cameron Eldridge