After visiting Lighthouse, I lumbered down the road a mile or so to Milstead & Co., a café that sits quietly beneath the towering concrete pylons of the Aurora Bridge. Milstead is more like what I am used to when I think of a specialty café. Admittedly, the coffee selections had something to do with that. At the bar, the coffee signs hanging on the espresso grinders said….Coava and Stumptown.
“Do you have anything from Seattle?” I asked.
“The only coffees we carry that are roasted in Seattle are from Stumptown,” the barista told me.
Stumptown doesn’t count, and while it would have been a fun experiment to see how a Seattle café works with Portland coffees, I decided to try a brewed coffee instead, where there were more options. I chose a Rwandan coffee from Intelligentsia and watched as the “brewista” set up the AeroPress on a scale, taking care to weigh both coffee and water to the nearest gram.
She must have done everything right, because the coffee was very, very tasty. It was slightly sweet, savory, had a mellow acidity and a big, satisfying body. The complexity and depth of flavors reminded me of a good marinara sauce, where the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and white wine fuse together to make something that each alone could never be.
Milstead is an relaxing space, with calming grays and tans around the café. The tables, framed with welded rectangular tube steel and topped with chunks of reclaimed 2x10s, sit sturdily on a polished concrete floor. The café was quiet enough you could hear the soft music playing in the background, but not so quiet you would feel awkward having a conversation. Several people were working on their laptops, but a few people were chatting. The space was large enough to accommodate both.
Between the stellar coffee and the appealing, modern space, I would say that Milstead & Co. looked like the offspring of Portland’s Water Avenue and Barista cafés, with a bit of Ristretto thrown in for good measure. It’s definitely worth a stop if you are in Seattle.
Milstead & Co
Address: 770 North 34th Street, Seattle, WA 98103 (map)
Hours: Monday-Friday 6am-6pm
Recommendation? A West Coast coffee flight